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rightpatient - unlocking biometric patient identification technology to improve patient safety in healthcare

Patient Identification in Healthcare: Unlocking Technology to Improve Patient Safety

rightpatient - unlocking patient identification technology to improve patient safety

Listen to this brand new podcast from the eHealth Radio network featuring RightPatient President Michael Trader discussing the current state of patient identification in healthcare

In the effort to draw attention to the ongoing problems that patient misidentification in healthcare creates, we were excited at the opportunity to discuss technology options now available for hospitals to increase patient ID accuracy with the eHealth Radio Network. Listen to the brand new podcast and learn:

— The latest news and updates from RightPatient® President Michael Trader
— Why biometric patient ID seamless integration with an EHR system is critical 
— The impact of biometric patient identification solutions on revenue cycle management (RCM)
 Why experience in biometrics and system integration is an important attribute to evaluate when selecting a vendor
— An update on the CHIME/HeroX national patient ID challenge

Take a moment and listen in to this podcast for more information on how to solve the vexing problem of achieving 100% accurate patient ID in healthcare. Thank you to Eric Michaels and the eHealth Radio team for the opportunity!

 

patient identification in healthcare

Is Petitioning Congress the Answer to Achieving Accurate Patient ID?

patient identification in healthcare

AHIMA’s efforts to petition Congress to life the federal moratorium on funding research on developing a national patient identifier may not do much to adequately solve the problem.

Hat tip for the recent efforts by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) to launch a petition drive that will move Congress to lift the federal legislative ban that has prohibited the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from participating in efforts to find a patient identification solution. It’s a noble effort and adds fuel to the hot fire burning in the industry to solve the persistent and dangerous problem of achieving accurate patient identification in healthcare. We understand that the effort to improve patient identification in healthcare has many downstream benefits to the entire industry including (but not limited to):

— Revenue cycle management
— Patient safety
— Health information exchange
— Population health

The fact that organizations with the clout of AHIMA and CHIME have contributed their powerful voices to the battle of improving patient ID in healthcare is advantageous to the end goal of finding a universal solution that can be adopted collectively throughout the industry. AHIMA and CHIME’s efforts are working to garner more attention to the persistent patient matching problem in healthcare and sparking more discussions about how to solve the problem. Often relegated as a back seat initiative in favor of other healthcare technology initiatives (e.g. – ICD-10, EHR implementation, interoperability), we have always believed that improving patient identification in healthcare should be higher on the priority list.   

AHIMA’s initiative has merit, but is advocating the use of a credential predicated on the concept of presenting something you have or know the answer to solving the patient identification problem in healthcare? One of the reasons that the healthcare industry has struggled with accurate patient identification is that legacy methods of identifying patients have proven to be easy targets to exploit. Human identification generally falls into three distinct categories:

  • “What you know” – address, phone number, date of birth
  • “What you have” – insurance card, driver’s license, passport, government issued identity
  • “Who you are” – biometrics

Traditional identification methods generally rely on asking a patient what they know or what they have but we already know that these are frequently abused and easy sources to commit fraud. Just look at the continued rise in cases of medical identity theft at the point of service – an estimated 2.3 million Americans or close family members had their identities stolen during or before 2014, and a large number of these cases involve family members stealing or sharing medical insurance credentials.

In geographic locations throughout the country where a large percentage of the patient demographic may share similar names, providing a false name or multiple variations of a name at the point of service in order to defraud the system is common. An example widely used throughout the industry to illustrate this is the Harris County Hospital District in Houston where among 3.5 million patients, there are nearly 70,000 instances where two or more patients shared the same last name, first name and date of birth. Among these were 2,488 different patients named Maria Garcia and 231 of those shared the same birth date.

In geographic locations throughout the country where a large percentage of the patient demographic may share similar names, providing a false name or multiple variations of a name at the point of service in order to defraud the system is common. An example widely used throughout the industry to illustrate this is the Harris County Hospital District in Houston where among 3.5 million patients, are were nearly 70,000 instances where two or more patients shared the same last name, first name and date of birth. Among these were 2,488 different patients named Maria Garcia and 231 of those shared the same birth date.

Pushing Congress to lift the federal moratorium on funding research on developing a national patient identifier may lead to a solution that requires patients who opt-in to bring this credential with them when seeking medical treatment. In the absence of incorporating an additional identification credential that relies on “who you are,” simply creating another individual authentication credential that relies on “what you know” or “what you have” leads us down the same path of abuse and fraud. After all, in theory the national patient identifier would be similar to a social security number or other credential that is subject to being stolen, shared, or swapped just like current methods of identification. Do we really want to allow this to happen? Seems as if this solution would be the equivalent or rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. 

Moving forward, the smarter way to solve the identification crisis in healthcare is to adopt technology that identifies patients by who they are, or some sort of a combination of what you have or what you know with who you are. For example, the use of biometrics for patient identification – already a proven technology that patients accept and significantly reduces duplicate medical records, overlays, medical identity theft, and fraud – would be a more sensible way to identify patients to alleviate the problems caused by misidentification. 

Lobbying Congress to lift the moratorium on funding research to develop a national patient identifier won’t solve the patient ID problem in healthcare unless the industry realizes that it must move away from antiquated identification methods that rely on what you have and/or what you know and instead shift to identifying patients by who they are. Unless this is part of the equation, healthcare will continue to spin it’s wheels in the effort to solve the vexing problem of how to achieve 100% accurate patient identification.

blab session discusses the current state of patient identification in healthcare

IntrepidNow Radio Discusses Current State of Patient Identification in Healthcare

blab session discusses the current state of patient identification in healthcare

Joe Lavelle from IntrepidNow Healthcare Radio interviewed us during a blab session today to talk about the current state of patient identification in healthcare.

Delighted at the opportunity to discuss the current state of patient identification in healthcare with Joe Lavelle (@Resultant) from IntrepidNow Radio and Jared Johnson (@jaredpiano) today via blab. Joe and I had a lengthy discussion about patient ID in healthcare at this year’s HIMSS16 trade show and Joe was gracious enough to follow up our conversation with a formal blab session addressing the topic. Here is a brief summary of what we discussed today:

  1. How does RightPatient® serve its customers?
  2. Clearing up some of the common misunderstandings about the use of biometrics for patient identification in healthcare.
  3. What is the current state of the patient identification market? What are the leading technologies? What are the key issues? How are customers deploying patient ID solutions?
  4. Are their privacy issues related to implementation of patient identification solutions?
  5. A recent guest on my show, a telemedicine company CEO, told Joe that his largest competition is the status quo. Is that also true for RightPatient®?
  6. Information on CHIME’s National Patient ID Challenge launched in January.
  7. What can we expect from RightPatient® in 2016?

Grateful for the chance to talk about this critical issue in healthcare and offer insight on solutions and initiatives underway. It was an excellent discussion and we were able to touch on a number of issues affected by inaccurate patient identification including: medical identity theft/healthcare fraud, duplicate medical records/overlays, identifying patients at new touchpoints along the care continuum, the advantages of using photo biometrics for patient ID, the culture of patient ID, patient privacy, and more!

Here is the blab session in its entirety: 

Thank you to Joe Lavelle and Jared Johnson for their time today! Stay tuned to the “Resources” section of our Web site for future podcasts, blab sessions, and video interviews. 

 

tweet chat on patient identification in healthcare

RightPatient® to Host September 11th #HITsm Chat on Patient Identification in Healthcare

tweet chat on patient identification in healthcare

Join us on Friday, September the 11th for the #HITsm tweet chat where we will discuss CHIME’s national patient identifier challenge and the state of patient identification in healthcare.

Join us this Friday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. CST as we host the weekly #HITsm tweet chat and discuss the conundrum of establishing accurate patient identification in healthcare. The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) recently issued a $1 million “national patient ID challenge” in an effort to find a universal solution for accurately matching patients with their health information. 

Patient identification in healthcare has bubbled to the top of the health IT priority list since accurately identifying patients is perhaps the most fundamental element of ensuring data accuracy throughout the care continuum but a confluence of barriers has inhibited advancing initiatives intended to improve it and help increase patient safety. 

During the chat we will discuss CHIME’s initiative and debate on whether it truly has the ability to improve patient identification in healthcare plus we will talk in-depth about how inaccurate patient ID effects healthcare interoperability, the evolving patient role to ensure the accuracy of their PHI, new patient touchpoints that complicate the goal of implementing technology that improves identification accuracy, and which new patient identification technologies show promise to help advance accurate patient identification in healthcare.

Please join the discussion beginning Friday at 11 a.m. CST, 12 p.m. EDT by following the #HITsm hashtag.

Additional information about the topic and discussion can be found here.

What additional topics would you like to see added to the conversation on establishing accurate patient identification in healthcare?

establishing accurate patient identification in healthcare is critical

CHIME Breathes New Life Into Patient Identity Crisis in Healthcare

establishing accurate patient identification in healthcare is critical

Did CHIME’s recent letter to Congress stressing the importance of establishing a national patient identifier light a fire under the government to act?

Last week, word came from Washington D.C. that the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) included language in a letter written to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions that accentuated the importance of accurate patient identification as a key component to ensure patient safety. In the letter, CHIME CEO Russell Branzell wrote:

“The accurate and effective matching of patients with their healthcare data is a significant threat to patient safety. We must first acknowledge that the lack of a consistent patient identity matching strategy is the most significant challenge inhibiting the safe and secure exchange of health information. As our healthcare system begins to realize the innately transformational capabilities of health IT, moving forward toward nationwide health information exchange, this essential core functionality consistency in patient identity matching must be addressed.”

Kudos to CHIME for resurrecting this issue and calling intention to its importance in the scope of the new healthcare industry paradigm of fluidly sharing patient data both in and outside of healthcare networks to advance to goal of improving both individual and population health. In their letter, CHIME and Branzell also recommended that Congress remove the prohibition levied on HHS every year since 1999 that prohibits the use of federal funds for the development of a unique patient identifier. 

CHIME’s actions are extremely significant in the overall scope of inching closer to the establishment of a national patient identification credential because they are arguably the most influential healthcare lobbyist on Capitol Hill representing the general views of over 1,400 members around the world, many of which are healthcare CIOs — a very powerful voice in health IT. The root of the patient identification problem at hand stems from multiple sources – lack of industry standards, a lack of consistency on how patient data is collected, and the public’s perception that they don’t have to show ID when accessing healthcare, just to name a few. Couple that with the aggressive push to establish concrete interoperability between healthcare systems for the seamless exchange of patient health data and you can see where the conundrum lies.

We have always thought that initiatives set in motion by the healthcare industry championing interoperability have always been sort of a “cart before the horse” scenario. Realistically, how can the healthcare industry expect to achieve meaningful interoperability when one of the core issues to reaching that goal (accurate patient identification) gets little to no attention as a key factor in its success? Furthermore, lack of a sustainable, federated patient identification credential inhibits progress towards the “triple aim” of healthcare — improving the patient experience, improving population health, and reducing the per capita cost of care.

Think the situation could get more complex? Don’t worry, it does. When you factor in the explosion of patient touchpoints permeating the healthcare market (e.g. mobile devices, patient portals, mhealth apps), the patient identification issue becomes much more stickier. As the multitude of channels patients can now submit and access health data to grows, any national patient identification solution must have the ability to address accurate patient identification at each and every touchpoint patients come in contact with. No longer interactions in strictly brick and mortar environments, administering care to patients has slowly evolved in lockstep with the rise of digital health capabilities, pushing the urgency to implement stricter patient ID protocols in an effort to ensure accuracy and safety.

Data accuracy in healthcare is unlike data accuracy in any other industry. Consumers can always rectify banking errors for example, but errors in interpreting inaccurate or missing health data can be matters of life and death adding even more urgency to solving the patient identification dilemma.

As we move closer towards opening the door even wider to advanced discussions on the issues surrounding patient identification within the U.S. healthcare system, you can bet that CHIME will continue to be a strong voice and influential entity to mold and shape future policies that address the need to establish more accuracy at each point along the care continuum. 

What are your thoughts on CHIME’s statements to Congress? Will their efforts help left the moratorium? Please let us know in the comments below.