How-Many-Patient-Identifiers-Should-be-Used-RightPatient

How Many Patient Identifiers Should be Used to Ensure Patient Safety?

The US healthcare system has always been plagued by a number of issues. One very common but often overlooked issue is that of patient identification errors. Misidentification cases continue to be quite prevalent while there continues to be a ban on the creation of a state-funded Universal Patient Identifier (UPI). While debate continues around the risks and rewards involved with a UPI, one should also be asking about its efficacy. How many patient identifiers should be used to prevent patient safety issues? Will a UPI be enough to solve this colossal challenge?

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UPI’s history in a nutshell

Since the idea for a unique patient identifier was formed, it’s seen constant criticism and opposition, resulting in a ban that’s lasted for around two decades. Last year, healthcare organizations came pretty close to finally having the ban removed when the US House of Representatives voted to repeal the ban. However, the ban is still in effect with the legislation failing to gain approval in the Senate.

As for the future of the UPI, let’s look at its past. It has not been funded for around two decades due to issues like privacy concerns and growing data breach incidents that could seriously jeopardize patient safety and privacy. Thus, chances are high that the future may not be kind to the creation of a state-funded UPI.

Lack of effective patient identification is felt throughout healthcare

The absence of reliable patient identification is widely felt throughout hospitals and health systems. Patient safety issues and patient data integrity failures are just some of the many issues associated with patient misidentification. However, a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic clearly highlighted the importance of proper patient identification, impeding the ability of caregivers to provide healthcare services quickly and effectively without access to holistic patient information. Since the pandemic started, healthcare staff on the frontlines have been learning that the hard way.

Many experts are even thinking that this might be the time the UPI will finally be realized. But will it be enough? How many patient identifiers should be used to make sure it’s safe for patients and effective for providers? Fortunately, our Co-Founder, Michael Trader, has a comprehensive answer.

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How many patient identifiers should be used?

Mr. Trader has stated that it’s crucial to find balance regarding a UPI and it’s equally important to establish an infrastructure that can house the UPI securely – only identifying patients accurately is not enough. Furthermore, the creation of duplicate medical records and overlays need to be prevented – they are some of the many issues that significantly hinder patient matching.

Mr. Trader adds that while the UPI will have benefits such as better interoperability as providers can share patient data more reliably, it will not mitigate issues such as duplicates, overlays, and medical identity theft. How many patient identifiers should be used, then?

Mr. Trader stated that instead of relying solely on the UPI, responsible providers will pair it with another identification system, and preferably one that is tried and tested. Linking the UPI to a photo-based biometric patient identification platform comes to mind. This touchless solution can be scaled across all encounter touch points, even enabling patients to utilize their own smartphones, making it the ideal solution in our post-pandemic world. With such a combination, patient misidentifications can be eliminated.

For years, patient misidentification has been a persistent problem for patients and caregivers alike. Providers need to eliminate misidentification as soon as possible, with or without the UPI. After all, it’s a single mistake that can cause severe consequences for both providers and patients. Fortunately, RightPatient can help providers avoid such unwanted cases. 

With its photo-based patient identification platform, RightPatient has been identifying patients accurately for years. Leading and responsible providers have chosen RightPatient instead of waiting for the UPI – they know the effects of patient identification errors better than anyone else. Thus, if the UPI is created, responsible leaders will be coupling it with the leading patient identification platform, ensuring interoperability, accurate patient identification, and reliable patient data exchanges.

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Dirty Patient Data Can Have Severe Consequences for Healthcare Providers

The US healthcare system has always been facing problems that stopped it from realizing its full potential. These issues are longstanding barriers to providing immaculate healthcare services to patients, and thus affect healthcare outcomes for all involved. One of these issues has been the “dirty” patient data accumulating within EHR systems over the years. With the COVID-19 pandemic causing even more issues like the unprecedented financial strain, layoffs, restructuring and so on, providers need to ensure that the patient information within their facilities is accurate, consistent and relevant. Let’s look at what unclean patient data is, how it affects patients and providers and how RightPatient can ensure the cleanest patient data with accurate patient identification.

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Patient data

A brief definition

In the simplest terms, patient data refers to a single patient’s medical information – medications, medical history, vitals, illnesses and so on. Such data is critical in making informed decisions regarding the patient in question. What should be the current or future course of action and how to best handle the needs of the patient are some common examples.

From the explanation, it is clear why clean patient data is important for both caregivers and their recipients. Let’s look at the other side of the coin: dirty data.

“Dirty” patient information

By now, it should be quite clear what dirty data means. Whenever the data is inaccurate, incomplete, inconsistent, obsolete or corrupt, it is considered “dirty”. Unclean patient data can lead to a lot of problems for any given healthcare provider. It impacts everyday operations, makes effective data sharing difficult and impacts healthcare outcomes, among other issues. Let’s have a more detailed look at the common ones.

Effects of unclean patient data

Inaccuracy and inefficient operations

Imagine if a patient goes to their healthcare provider for a checkup. The registrar types in the patient’s name: several medical records pop up on the screen, all pertaining to the same patient. Understandably, this can confuse the registrar. They are faced with a difficult choice: either go through all the patient records and find out the accurate one or create a new one entirely. The former case will take up a lot of time, while the latter will just create another duplicate medical record within the system. Both of these are consequences of having unclean data within the system.

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Huge losses

According to Gartner, unclean data can cost an organization anywhere from $9.7 to $14.2 million. For US healthcare providers, however, it’s an entirely different figure. AHIMA stated that duplicate medical records can cost up to $40 million for any given provider, while a health system having several facilities can house up to 20% duplicate records.

Imagine if a patient is treated with another patient’s medical information. When the record holder gets the bill for services they did not use, they’ll simply contact their insurance provider regarding the matter. This will lead to a denied claim. Thus, inaccurate data can lead to denied claims as well – costing around $4.9 million on average for the average health system.

Patient safety is compromised

One of the biggest issues of unclean data is that it impacts patient safety. One patient will receive inaccurate and even dangerous treatment because they are being treated based on an entirely different patient’s medical record. Even if it is the same patient, if there are multiple records under their name, each record will have inconsistent and incomplete information about the patient, leading to improper care, medications and procedures. All in all, healthcare outcomes will not be as expected as patient safety and quality of care is jeopardized severely. This can affect a provider’s ratings as well. Patients will not be happy if they are not receiving unreliable healthcare services. Thus, clean data is critical to improving quality and safety in healthcare.

Non-compliance issues

This one is quite new. However, most healthcare providers know this and are working on it: e-notifications support.

The CMS rule mandates that all caregivers having EHR systems must ensure they support e-notifications by May 1st, 2021. During any ADT event, the provider needs to send e-notifications to the patient’s caregivers, whether they be established primary care practitioners, post-acute providers & suppliers or any other entity primarily responsible for the patient’s care. This is done to boost positive healthcare outcomes and improve care coordination. If the data is unclean, providers will end up sending false alerts either to the wrong provider or the wrong patient.

In any case, unclean data will cause non-compliance issues, penalties and might even jeopardize CMS provider agreements.

Lower ROI

Health systems and hospitals have been investing significantly in population health management, big data, analytics and similar projects they find promising. The efficacy of these systems depends on high-quality data being fed into them. When data is corrupted due to duplicate and overlay records, those investments are diluted, leading to lower ROI. 

Keep patient data clean with RightPatient

One of the best ways to ensure that patient data integrity is maintained is by identifying the accurate patient record from the get-go. That’s where we can help.

RightPatient is the leading patient identification platform that ensures data integrity is maintained within EHRs. It is a touchless, photo-based platform used by leading healthcare providers. 

By making sure that you identify your patients accurately every time, you can avoid duplicate medical records, prevent medical identity theft, eliminate financial issues related to dirty data, improve patient safety and quality of care. Also, you can send out proper e-notifications to the accurate caregivers, eliminating any non-compliance penalties.

By ensuring accurate and consistent data that can be used by the aforementioned investments (population health management, big data, analytics, etc.), RightPatient improves ROI for healthcare providers, creating a win-win scenario for everyone.

Contact us now to know how RightPatient works and how we can help you ensure the cleanest data via positive patient identification.

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CMS Compliance Requires Identifying Patients Correctly – Are you Ensuring it? 

From the title, it is quite clear what this is about. The changes made to the Medicare CoPs (conditions of participation) have attracted attention within the US healthcare system, especially after the introduction of mandatory e-notifications during every ADT (admission, discharge, or transfer) of a patient. While providers are more focused on e-notifications, most of them forget about one very important prerequisite: identifying patients correctly. While we have already touched upon the topic regarding CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) Interoperability & Patient Access Final Rule, this time, we will focus more on the practical aspects and how patient identification is a crucial component that is absolutely necessary for e-notifications to work properly as well as CMS compliance. Without further ado, let’s dive deeper into the topic at hand.

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A brief refresher

A few changes have been made regarding the CMS Interoperability & Patient Access Final Rule. As the name suggests, it has been done to boost interoperability efforts within the caregivers of the patients. Let us look at why it is required within the healthcare system.

There are many cases where a patient is not restricted to a single healthcare provider;  especially if they have complications, multiple ailments and so on. Such patients need to visit and consult with multiple healthcare providers in order to receive the best patient care. For this to be effective, caregivers need to have access to the patient’s medical record, history, medications, vitals and other necessary information. In order to make the caregiving process seamless and boost interoperability, the Final Rule was introduced.

The “companion final rule” states that e-notifications must be sent out by healthcare providers (such as acute care, psychiatric, critical access providers, etc.) during every ADT to the appropriate recipients, i.e., the other caregivers (post-acute providers & suppliers, established primary care practitioners, or any other entity primarily responsible for the patient’s care). This rule applies to inpatient admissions as well as ED admissions. 

Who needs to ensure it?

Applicable healthcare providers are those who use digital medical records like EMR or EHR systems. They need to ensure compliance and have proper systems set up by May 1, 2021 so that they can send out e-notifications during ADTs. 

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While that’s a succinct summary of the most recent change in the CoPs, every healthcare provider needs to ensure that they are sending out e-notifications. Otherwise, they can face undesirable consequences such as receiving penalties for non-compliance, or worse, jeopardizing their CMS provider agreements. But how is identifying patients correctly related to CMS compliance regarding e-notifications?

Identifying patients correctly is required for CMS compliance

As previously mentioned, the CMS rule requires healthcare providers to send out notifications during ADTs. But there’s a catch.

Identifying patients correctly is quite important for e-notifications to work. Think about it: if a patient is not accurately recognized or is misidentified as a different patient, the healthcare provider risks sending alerts to the wrong caregivers. Worst of all, the provider risks that they won’t be able to answer alerts other caregivers are requesting.

Without a reliable way to identify patients, things can escalate quickly. If a provider cannot fulfill alert requests or sends too many incorrect alerts, care coordination teams will start to lose faith and miss opportunities to improve patient outcomes. Noncompliance will also incur CMS penalties, which can result in hefty fines. After COVID-19, nobody can afford such costs.

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While healthcare providers are busying themselves by deciding how to best implement e-notifications, they should also assess the effectiveness of their patient identity matching systems. Clearly, the former is dependent on the latter. Those who are struggling with patient identification need to upgrade their systems to futureproof, easy-to-use and hygienic ones. 

RightPatient helps identify patients correctly

We ensure that patients are always identified correctly with our industry-leading touchless biometric patient identification platform.

How it works

After making an appointment, patients receive an SMS or email to validate their identity. During this process, the patient takes a photo of their driver’s license and a selfie. RightPatient automatically matches the selfie photo with the photo on the driver’s license to ensure a proper identity match. If the patient is not already in the system, RightPatient assigns biometric credentials to the new patient.

This is how we prevent patients from registering under a different identity or medical record mix-ups. There’s no need to worry about name changes, mistakes when entering a patient’s name or other common issues. Patients are recognized with their selfies.

We have been helping prominent health systems like TGMC, CMC and CHSLI fight the battle against patient misidentification for years. With RightPatient, responsible healthcare providers can send e-notifications and comply with CMS without worrying about faulty alerts.

If we haven’t convinced you by now, why don’t you try our free trial? No gimmicks – it’s really free!

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Patient Identification Policy Impacts Data Integrity and Patient Safety Issues

Let’s face it – patient identification errors are nothing new and it is a much-discussed topic among healthcare leaders. For instance, just a month ago, a new coalition was formed to urge Congress to develop a UPI (unique patient identifier) to be used nationwide. Sadly, such formations are quite common – groups, competitions, and alliances have formed for years for the same reason. The result is that no UPI exists yet and patient identification errors are still wreaking havoc. However, many healthcare providers are reaping the benefits of accurate patient identification – it boils down to the patient identification policy used by the caregiver. Let’s take a closer look at how patient identification errors can cause a multitude of problems, why accurate patient identification is so crucial, and how platforms like RightPatient can help ensure just that.

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Patient misidentification

It is quite self-explanatory. Patient identification errors occur whenever a healthcare facility fails to accurately match the patient with their appropriate medical record present within the EHR system.

It happens for a number of reasons. As already mentioned, it is nothing new and has been the result of years of human errors and improper patient data maintenance like duplicate medical records, overlays, and missing, incorrect, and/or incomplete information, leading to low patient match rates.

To put it into perspective, AHIMA stated that health systems can house up to 20% duplicate records within their EHR systems. The financial impact? It can go as high as $40 million for any given healthcare facility. 

Effects of patient misidentification

Low patient match rates is just the tip of the iceberg! Patient misidentification leads to several problems. Let’s look at the more prominent effects of patient misidentification.

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Whenever you incorrectly identify a patient, it means that one patient’s data will get written into someone else’s medical record – creating patient data integrity issues. This leads to a lot of problems – incorrect medications, repeated lab tests, incorrect medical procedures, inaccurate patient history – the list just goes on. Both the patients will receive inaccurate care by the caregiver as a direct consequence of patient misidentification, hampering patient outcomes.

Naturally, patient misidentification leads to patient safety issues – these are bound to happen if your treatment is based on the wrong medical record. Consequences can be delays in treatment, worse patient outcomes, irreparable damages, and sometimes, patient misidentification can even result in deaths. According to a report by John Hopkins University, medical errors can cause up to 250,000 avoidable deaths per year, many of which happen due to patient identification errors. 

Thus, the million-dollar question is how can healthcare providers ensure accurate patient identification across their facilities?

It depends on a provider’s patient identification system

The accuracy of patient identification is as good as the patient identification policy used by the hospital in question, and there are many options hospitals can choose from. Responsible leaders, in any case, must choose the patient identification system that ensures accurate patient identification, provides a seamless experience, and provides a safe and hygienic environment for all involved.

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There are a plethora of options available that hospitals can use as their primary patient identification policy. Sadly, many are still choosing the most obsolete one – inundating patients with questions. Whenever a patient arrives, officials ask them questions to find the correct medical record. This policy is slow, outdated, and extremely insecure – anyone can pass themselves off as the patient. In fact, this leads to medical identity theft – fraudsters buy stolen medical records from the black market and have all the information to pose successfully as the victim.

One other policy is to use patient ID wristbands. While this is a tad more secure than asking questions, it can still be taken off a patient and used for fraudulent purposes. Moreover, it is a contact-based solution, and that’s not something hospitals would want after the COVID-19 crisis – everyone is extremely aware of infection control issues now.

The most secure solution is using an identification policy where the identifier cannot be transferred or stolen – biometric modalities come to mind. There is a caveat though – patients would be quite reluctant to accept touch-based solutions such as fingerprint or palm-vein scanning.

Implement a touchless patient identification policy

The best option has been left for last – touchless patient identification platforms. RightPatient is the leading photo-based biometric patient identification system used by progressive healthcare providers.

Locking the medical records of patients with their photos upon registration, returning patients only need to look at the camera and the platform matches the photo with the one saved alongside their medical record, ensuring accurate patient identity verification.

There are many patient identification platforms available – be the responsible leader by choosing the one that shares the common goal of improving patient safety and quality of care at your facility.

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Patient Data Protection is Ensured by Responsible Healthcare Leaders

Healthcare providers in the US have a lot on their plates. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, they had their hands full with issues like patient identification errors, cybersecurity threats, HIPAA compliance issues, an abundance of duplicate medical records, medical identity theft, a distinct lack of patient safety, and more. Whatever the case may be, progressive healthcare leaders need to ensure patient data protection at all costs. In fact, many of the aforementioned problems can be mitigated by protecting patient data – leading providers have been doing that constantly. But why is it so important? How can providers safeguard patient data? Let’s dive in.

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Patient data protection

Safeguard-electronic-health-records-with-RightPatientPatient data protection has been one of the oldest and most important requirements for healthcare providers, and rightfully so – a patient shares critical and sensitive information with their caregivers. Names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, contact information, addresses, facial photographs, medical history, and ailments are just some examples of the information stored within patient records. If these get compromised and land in the wrong hands, such cases can have disastrous consequences – healthcare insurance fraud, litigation costs for providers, and hampered patient safety are some common results. Thus, protecting patient data is crucial for any caregiver. Let’s take a look at a few more reasons why protecting patient data is necessary for hospitals and health systems.

Reasons to protect patient data

Ensuring Compliance

Concerns regarding data privacy are more common than ever – even more so when it comes to patient data. The frequency of healthcare data breaches proves that. However, providers, along with other healthcare organizations that deal with patient data, need to have safeguards in place to protect sensitive information.

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HIPAA, also known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, was introduced back in 1996 and is primarily used for patient data protection. It mandates that all healthcare organizations who deal with PHI (protected health information) must ensure that the data is protected at all times. If an organization fails to do so or violates HIPAA in any other way, they will face heavy scrutiny and hefty fines – up to $1.5 million per year. On top of that, the person committing the violation may face criminal penalties – fines and even jail time. Data breaches can cost up to $ 6 billion for the healthcare industry, and the US also tops the list of most expensive data breaches, besides Germany.

HITECH, or the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, compliments HIPAA. It was created to make sure that healthcare information technology is adopted and utilized appropriately. Privacy and security concerns are addressed by HITECH as well.

Thus, patient data protection is a must to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations that are in place. While HIPAA compliance can be cumbersome and challenging, healthcare organizations can simplify compliance management and reduce HIPAA-related administrative burdens. There are solutions available to ensure HIPAA compliance – organizations should choose one that is simple but powerful and gets the job done effectively. HIPAAReady is such a solution. A robust HIPAA compliance software, HIPAAReady ensures training management and scheduling, reduces administrative burden, and keeps all HIPAA compliance documents in a centralized location. Organizations can even detect security gaps by conducting internal audits with HIPAAReady.

Preventing medical identity theft

One of the more crucial reasons why protecting patient data is so important is because failure to do so leads to medical identity theft. Let’s see how that happens.

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Cybercriminals are always trying to breach the security of healthcare providers, and when they finally do so, they steal sensitive patient information and sell it on the black market for high prices. Fraudsters buy the data and assume the identity of the affected patients – committing medical identity theft, pushing off the expenses on the victims, and fraudulently obtaining healthcare services. 

Medical identity theft can lead to lawsuits, demand significant time and costs from patients and/or providers to rectify the issues, and compromise patient data integrity. That leads us to the next reason for protecting patient data.

Enhancing patient safety

Failure to maintain patient data integrity means that the data is not accurate anymore. When a provider fails to protect patient data, it leads to medical identity theft. When the fraudster uses the victim’s healthcare services, he/she contaminates the patient data – the fraudster’s data gets written onto the victim’s patient record, rendering it inaccurate. If such cases remain undetected or unfixed, they can severely hamper patient outcomes. Medical errors, delays in treatment, incorrect procedures, and even deaths – these are just some of the numerous consequences of compromised patient data. Thus, patient data protection is critical for enhancing patient safety.

Protect patient data now

Protect-patient-data-now-with-RightPatientProtecting patient data is a huge challenge, but it is achievable. One of the first and foremost things providers can do to protect patient data is to ensure positive patient identification at each encounter. That’s where we can help.

RightPatient is the leading patient identification solution chosen by progressive providers. It is a photo-based and touchless biometric patient identification platform with common goals shared by caregivers – to enhance patient safety, to ensure accurate patient identification, and to prevent medical identity theft

It locks the medical records of patients upon registration with their photos. Returning patients look at the camera and the platform matches the photos and provides accurate records within seconds. Even with healthcare data breaches, RightPatient protects your patients and their data as the platform will red-flag fraudsters during patient identity verification.

Protect patient data, prevent medical identity theft, ensure positive patient identification, and more – with RightPatient.

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Patient Identification Errors in Hospitals Should be Eliminated Now Instead of Waiting for a UPI

Patient identification errors have been haunting the US healthcare system for decades now. In fact, the lack of effective patient identity management within the majority of hospitals and health systems is quite well-known as it is prevalent. Otherwise, groups would not have formed every year to appeal to Congress to finally approve a state-funded unique patient identifier (UPI). However, the coronavirus pandemic has been wreaking havoc across the US, which is why accurate patient identification is needed more than ever. But should they still wait for Congress for a UPI, or is there a way to eliminate patient identification errors in hospitals now? The short answer to the latter is yes – RightPatient. Let’s dive deep into the issues caused by patient misidentification, what the healthcare industry is doing about it, and how leading providers are solving it.

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Issues caused by patient misidentification

Patient misidentification has always caused a plethora of problems – for patients, healthcare providers, insurance companies – basically anyone involved with patient care. However, the pandemic has deemed the elimination of patient identification errors in hospitals more necessary than ever, so that patients can get faster, more accurate care, leading to improved health outcomes. So, what are the issues caused by patient identification errors?

The lack of accurate patient identification can create duplicate records or overlays (merged medical records of the same or different patients), causing a ripple effect and hampering patient safety by generating inaccurate patient information. For example, a patient with a common name comes into a provider’s facility, and without a robust patient identification platform, it will be quite difficult for the EHR user to determine the correct medical record for the patient. Thus, the healthcare official will either painstakingly search for the correct record, which is quite time-consuming, or else an entirely new record will be created, leading to just another duplicate record among the several existing ones. Duplicate records create patient safety issues – patients will be treated based on an incomplete or inaccurate medical history. For providers, the financial cost of duplicates can be up to $40 million, according to AHIMA.

Patient misidentification can also cause denied claims, which have a severe impact on the financials of hospitals and health systems. Suppose a patient is misidentified by the provider using an obsolete patient identification system. While the patient at the facility will be receiving the care, someone else will be charged inadvertently for the services as a result of patient identification errors. However, the medical record holder can simply let the authorities know that someone else had used the healthcare services, and thus, he/she will not be charged – leading to a case of claim denial. Denied claims can cost up to $4.9 million on average for any given healthcare provider.

Even during this ongoing and unprecedented health crisis, patient misidentification is quite common. It occurs because there is no proper way to match patients to their electronic health records (EHRs) within those providers’ facilities, and it leads to patient safety issues as well as reduced quality of care. Other issues patient misidentification causes are incorrect treatments, medications, and lab test results – hampering patient outcomes significantly. Given the current scenario of the healthcare system, these issues should be minimized as much as possible – something that RightPatient can help hospitals with.

What is the healthcare industry doing about it?

During a virtual briefing, the CEO of AHIMA, Wylecia Wiggs Harris, stated that COVID-19 shows how important accurate data is and why patient misidentification issues must be solved as soon as possible. 

Leading-healthcare-providers-use-RightPatient-for-positive-patient-identificationLikewise, other experts have been making similar statements. For instance, even COVID-19 test results were affected by patient identification errors. After the results came in, it was quite difficult to identify and search for the patients, as no accurate patient identity management system existed within the facilities.

Thus, healthcare leaders across the states are coming together to once again to ask Congress to lift the archaic ban on a state-funded UPI. However, if the past has anything to teach, it is the fact that the ban has been in effect for decades now. Lawmakers and officials placed the ban citing privacy concerns regarding a UPI, and it is quite unlikely that they will budge now.

Instead, many leading providers have taken it upon themselves to eliminate patient identification issues within their premises themselves. How are they doing that?  

Eliminate patient identification errors in hospitals now

Forward-thinking providers did not rely on Congress to remove the ban, which might not happen anytime soon, admittedly. Instead, they deployed RightPatient – the leading photo-based biometric patient identification platform.

It locks the medical records of the patients with their photos – a returning patient looks at the camera, allowing the platform to identify the correct medical record within seconds. It is completely hygienic and ideal for the current crisis. 

Our platform has been successfully reducing patient identification errors in hospitals and health systems. RightPatient ensures accurate patient identification, reduces claim denials, avoids duplicate medical records, and even prevents medical identity theft – improving patient safety and quality of care in the process.

Contact us now and ensure accurate patient identification at your facilities to stay ahead of the curve.

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How Can Medical Identity Theft Occur During Telehealth Visits?

Telehealth has been around for years, but it has only been growing exponentially for the past few months. One of the biggest propellers that caused the surge in telehealth usage is the coronavirus pandemic, while the other reason is its benefit of taking healthcare out of the regular setting and setting up safe and remote environments for the patients and caregivers. While many predict that telehealth is here to stay after seeing how it can benefit caregivers and patients, health systems and hospitals need to focus on another important aspect – how can medical identity theft occur during telehealth visits, and is it preventable? Fortunately, it can be – with RightPatient. Let’s dive deep.

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Telehealth skyrocketed due to COVID-19

Since telehealth was introduced, experts in the US healthcare system have been busy debating its pros and cons, affecting its growth and questioning its capabilities. However, as the pandemic has shown, telehealth has been extremely crucial for the US healthcare system during its ongoing battle against the pandemic. It has helped reduce the risk of more COVID-19 cases as non-COVID-19 patients were recommended to use telehealth instead of inpatient visits.

As previously mentioned, the biggest benefit of telehealth is that it enables patients and caregivers to engage in healthcare remotely. All they need is a good internet connection and devices to communicate with each other – eliminating any chances of contracting the virus as opposed to inpatient visits during the pandemic. Thus, it is no surprise that telehealth demand has been sky-high, with experts predicting over one billion visits during 2020 alone. While providers are quickly adapting to the changes and using telehealth, hospitals and health systems must also think about a serious problem – how can medical identity theft occur during telehealth usage?

Medical identity theft is all over the place

Medical identity theft is nothing new. Hackers steal valuable patient information through healthcare data breaches. They sell it for up to $1000 per record on the black market to fraudsters. Since healthcare is quite expensive, these fraudsters prefer buying patient information from hackers for a much cheaper price, shifting the healthcare costs onto the shoulders of the victims.

Medical identity theft is becoming quite prevalent. In 2019 alone, more patient records were breached in comparison to the previous three years combined. Medical identity theft leads to lawsuits, patient safety issues, settlement costs up to $250,000, unwanted attention, and loss of goodwill. Thus, it becomes increasingly necessary to ensure that medical identity theft is prevented, even during telehealth visits.Medical-identity-theft's-effects-can-be-mitigated-with-RightPatient

But how can medical identity theft occur during telehealth? Well, the stolen information can be easily used by the fraudster to bypass the obsolete patient identification systems most hospitals have – just like inpatient visits. Moreover, many patients sometimes even give their credentials to their family members or friends willingly – aiding them in medical identity theft. 

Such cases lead to added costs like medical record clean-ups, lack of patient data integrity, and patient safety issues, among other problems. Hospitals are facing huge losses already due to the pandemic, and they need to recover their losses if they want to survive in the future. One of the best ways to do all of that is by ensuring positive patient identification.

Accurate patient identification with RightPatient

RightPatient is the healthcare industry’s leading touchless patient identification platform. It locks the medical records of the patients with their photos upon enrollment. Whenever the patient comes, all he/she needs to do is look at the camera and the platform matches the photos and provides the correct medical record within seconds. RightPatient seamlessly integrates with the major EHR systems, enhancing the experience for providers as well. It is hygienic too, enhancing patient safety and reducing infection control issues.

While it has been ensuring accurate patient identification for providers for years, RightPatient brings the same expertise to telehealth. It can also be used to remotely validate a patient’s identity. Patients receive an SMS or email after scheduling an appointment, after which they need to take a selfie and photos of their driver’s license. RightPatient automatically matches the photos of the driver’s license and the selfie to validate patient identity – preventing medical identity theft in the process.

RightPatient has been successfully protecting over 10 million patient records and preventing fraudsters from harming patients while reducing healthcare costs, denied claims, lawsuits, and boosting the bottom lines in the process. Protect your patients – even during telehealth visits – with RightPatient. 

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Identifying Patients Accurately is Critical for Ensuring CMS Compliance

The US healthcare system has been going through a very challenging phase due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, it looks like healthcare providers are going to have their hands full – they have another rule to comply with and must plan accordingly to ensure compliance by May 1, 2021. The fact that there have been additional changes to the Medicare Conditions of Participation (CoPs) is already well known among healthcare leaders. However, while many providers are already thinking about how they can ensure compliance, they might leave out one significant factor that can make or break the entire effort – are they identifying patients accurately? Why is this important? How does patient identification fit in with the new changes? How can providers ensure accurate patient identification? Let’s explore in detail.

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CMS Interoperability & Patient Access Final Rule

While the entire healthcare system has been suffering from the lack of interoperability, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have made some changes to the CoPs to ensure that there is some degree of interoperability, believing that it will have positive effects on care coordination as well.

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The “companion final rule”, as per CMS, mandates that healthcare providers like acute care, psychiatric, and critical access hospitals send out e-notifications during every patient admission, discharge, or transfer (ADT) to the designated recipients (read: providers and other entities primarily responsible for patient’s care). This is applicable for both inpatient admissions and patients registered in the emergency departments (EDs).

Moreover, the providers obligated to follow the ADT requirements must make enough effort to ensure that they have sent out the notifications to the applicable parties (suppliers, entities, practitioners, etc.) in real-time.

Any given healthcare provider that uses digital medical records like EMRs or EHRs needs to ensure compliance with the updated CoPs for e-notifications. COVID-19 has extended the deadline – healthcare providers now have until May 1, 2021 to ensure compliance with the recent changes. 

Why are the CoPs important?

What is the biggest reason to ensure CMS compliance? Financial factors like CMS reimbursements and avoiding non-compliance penalties are more than ample motivators. Healthcare providers need to be compliant in order to safeguard their CMS provider agreement – it determines whether the providers are able to receive reimbursements or not, which can be quite significant in some cases. If providers do not ensure compliance, not only will their agreements be in jeopardy, restricting them from receiving reimbursements, but they might also face penalties. Given the current healthcare crisis that has crippled almost every caregiver, more financial woes are something any provider would want to avoid. 

What the healthcare providers are doing

Since the deadline has been extended to May 1, 2021, leading figures of healthcare providers are brainstorming about how to comply with the change – should they build an in-house e-notification system themselves, or should they buy from experienced vendors? Whatever option providers go with, they are not addressing the elephant in the room – are they identifying patients accurately?

How identifying patients accurately is related to e-notifications

Think of it this way – patient identification in hospitals is already inaccurate. In fact, many healthcare providers face patient identification errors due to duplicate medical records, medical record overlays, and patient mix-ups, among other problems. These lead to issues like compromised patient safety, unwanted patient outcomes, avoidable medical errors, and even deaths.

So, it has already been established that if a hospital does not have an accurate patient identity management system, then it causes a lot of problems for the facility. Can you imagine what will happen if the hospital goes for an e-notification platform without identifying patients correctly first?

Issues like common names and characteristics shared by patients are already quite prevalent and cause patient mix-ups. If such a case occurs while sending out e-notifications, then the wrong patient’s data will be provided to the subsequent caregiver. Thus, patient mix-ups and incorrect patient identification cases during ADT notifications will wreak havoc – delays in treatments, medical errors, and lawsuits are just some of the consequences of such scenarios. It will be a nightmare for any given provider. Hospitals and health systems that are not identifying patients accurately at their facilities need to eliminate these errors to ensure CMS compliance and avoid any unwanted consequences. They need to ensure patient data integrity by ensuring positive patient identification every time a patient comes in. That’s where we can help.

Identifying patients accurately with RightPatient

CMS-compliance-requires-proper-patient-identification-for-e-notificationsRightPatient is the healthcare industry’s leading photo-based biometric patient identification platform. It seamlessly integrates with the major EHR systems and becomes part of the workflow. Patients are registered by locking their medical records with their photos. After enrollment, incoming patients only need to look at the camera and the platform matches the photos and provides accurate medical records within seconds. This ensures a safe, easy, touchless, and hygienic patient identification experience for everyone.

RightPatient ensures that the correct patient is identified every time across the care continuum, helping you maintain patient data integrity. With RightPatient, you can send out the correct patient’s notification every time, ensuring CMS compliance and safeguarding your patients and, in turn, your business.

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5 Tips for Preventing Medical Identity Theft in Healthcare

Hospitals, medical centers, and physicians’ offices are not only places where patients should feel safe about getting the right medications, but it should be a place where they also feel safe with their sensitive information. Unfortunately, with the rise in the number of healthcare data breaches, the market is even riper for medical identity theft. Over 41 million patient records were breached in 2019 alone and the majority of them were associated with hacking or cyber attack-related incidents. 

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Preventing medical identity theft has been one of the top priorities, yet many organizations still rely on antiquated patient identity management solutions. Many leading hospitals, namely, Terrebonne General Medical Center and The University Healthcare System have been successful in preventing medical identity theft and benefitted in many other ways since using RightPatient. Other benefits include eliminating duplication of medical records, improving patient identity matching rates, clinical efficiency, and boosting the overall revenue cycle. But what about medical identity theft? How are patients affected by it? What are the ways for preventing medical identity theft? Let’s find out.

What is Medical Identity Theft?

Medical identity theft occurs when a fraudster uses someone else’s personally identifiable information (e.g. name, DOB, Social Security Number, health insurance number) to fraudulently receive medications or services, including attempts to falsify medical billings. The healthcare industry would have billions of dollars in surplus if all healthcare providers could prevent medical identity theft. This crime involves the fraudulent use of someone’s health insurance information to obtain reimbursement for healthcare-related services provided to a person not covered by the policy. This is one of the most common reasons for the rise in the numbers of claim denials. It affects revenue integrity and requires organizations to put in more strenuous efforts and resources to identify and resolve the problem throughout the revenue cycle management.

How are patients affected by medical identity theft?

Patients may not be able to afford the cost: Financial consequences for the victims of medical identity theft can exceed the cost of credit card fraud. According to a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, medical identity theft can cost an average American $13,500 to resolve.

Victims may not be aware of their information being stolen: In most cases, insurers or healthcare providers rarely inform the patients about the crime. In general, victims are completely unaware of when they became a victim and learn about the theft of their credentials about three months after the crime has occurred.

Reputations can be on the line: Found in many studies, victims said that their reputation was affected because of medical identity theft due to disclosure of personal sensitive health information. Many respondents believe they missed out on good career opportunities due to identity theft. Some said it resulted in the loss of their job.

5 Tips for Preventing Medical Identity Theft

Invest in modern patient identity management technology and software

With the transition of paper-based patient’s records to electronic-based record-keeping systems, it is necessary to invest in modern technology and software for preventing medical identity theft. For better security and matching rates, many healthcare providers have adopted RightPatient – a leader in touchless biometric patient identity management solutions. With RightPatient, healthcare providers can verify patients’ identities and protect access to medical records. RightPatient does not only help in preventing medical identity theft but it also drastically improves patient matching rates and eliminates the creation of duplicate records.

Just as facial recognition or iris scanning techniques are used in smartphone devices today, this platform uses similar biometric techniques in a healthcare setting for authenticating and verifying an individual’s identity. RightPatient uses an individual’s iris pattern or photos of their face to lock their medical records. Each time a patient arrives at the continuum of care, the platform will scan their iris pattern or photos of their face to authenticate their identity and retrieve their correct medical records. With secure-log-in monitoring, fraudsters will be instantly denied when they try to gain access to medical records by assuming someone’s identity. 

Automating the patient registration and enrollment process

Automating the patient registration and enrollment process can eliminate the hassle of a long, complicated registration process, save valuable time and resources, and reduce errors at the same time. Criminals can easily obtain or use someone else’s common identifiers, such as names, SSNs, and DOB for fraudulent use. Many times common identifiers have also been the main cause of the creation of duplicate identities or record mismatching. Paper-based records are also vulnerable to how easily they can end up in the wrong hands. With RightPatient, transitioning to an automated patient enrollment system will be seamless. 

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Streamline workflow and maintain compliance

Protected health information (PHI) is like a treasure box for cybercriminals and thieves. PHI contains valuable sensitive information and can easily be worth more than credit card numbers on the black market. This is why the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was established to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of PHI. HIPAA requires healthcare organizations to implement appropriate safeguards to better protect patients’ information so it doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. Maintaining compliance with HIPAA can be quite strenuous, but organizations can use HIPAA compliance software to streamline their compliance efforts and reduce administrative burden. Adopting the best security practices to limit unauthorized access or disclosure of patient information is crucial for preventing medical identity theft.

Robust bring your own device (BYOD) and network access policy

Personal devices should be secured before accessing a patient’s information across the network. A proper BYOD policy must be developed and maintained. For instance, is it safe for employees to bring company-issued devices back home? Many times, thieves get access to sensitive information when devices such as laptops, tablets, or smartphones get stolen from the office, home, or even from a car. Hospitals should also install a separate internet wi-fi network for visitors and patients to restrict access to the organization’s internal network. 

Educate your employees and patients and instill a culture of best privacy practice

Not all data breaches are malicious – human error is inevitable. From emailing sensitive data to the wrong person to accidentally posting on social media or leaving a laptop open, information can be disclosed in many ways. It is essential for healthcare providers to conduct proper training and educate their staff members, working in any capacity with medical information on how to handle and access PHI in an appropriate manner and identify suspicious behaviors for preventing medical identity theft. Training can be easily streamlined using applications.

Many hospitals always strive to do their best when it comes to securing patient information. The occurrence of medical identity theft is unfortunate but isn’t rare at all. Hospitals should also advise patients and encourage them to keep their sensitive information safe and be cautious when sharing sensitive information. 

Preventing Medical Identity Theft with RightPatient

Even during this COVID-19 national emergency crisis, medical identity theft is continuously becoming a great threat to the safety of patients and healthcare providers. Besides being the leader in patient identity management, RightPatient offers completely touchless biometric modules for patient identification. With RightPatient, healthcare providers can easily prevent medical identity theft and improve patient safety along with hygiene in a facility by removing physical contact, thus, limiting the spread of contagious diseases. 

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Optimizing Revenue Cycle Management in Healthcare is More Important Than Ever

While the US is still suffering from the effects of the highly contagious COVID-19, it has arguably hit its healthcare system worse than anything else. Around 1.4 million people working in healthcare have lost their jobs. The number itself is quite shocking, however, what makes it worse is that the pandemic has changed everything. For instance, the US healthcare system used to be unaffected by any recessions, but COVID-19 has shown otherwise. This is because numerous hospitals have declared layoffs, furloughs, or are even shutting down due to unimaginable financial pressure. With that in mind, as hospitals are opening up, they need to reduce their losses right off the bat, otherwise, it will be hard for anyone to survive. Thus, revenue cycle management in healthcare is more crucial than ever now.

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The numbers are drastic

It has already been mentioned that over 1.4 million healthcare professionals lost their jobs. That’s not where it stops, though. Since hospitals made the difficult but necessary choice to prepare for the overwhelming amount of COVID-19 patients by shutting down non-emergency care at their premises, they became financially crippled. The American Hospital Association stated that hospitals are losing a mindboggling $50 billion a month, due to the fact that they are seeing an extremely low number of patients – as low as 70%. Revenue cycle management in healthcare has always been a much-discussed topic, however, as the numbers show, it is of utmost importance now to optimize revenue cycles by reducing costs and mitigating losses – something that RightPatient can help healthcare providers with. But how does optimized revenue cycle management help hospitals deal with the financial crisis?

Benefits of optimized revenue cycle management in healthcare

Reduced denied claims

A streamlined revenue cycle depends on the level of accurate data present within the system. If there is a high level of accuracy, it reduces the chances of denied claims. Usually, denied claims occur when there are mistakes in payment claims. One example is when patients are mistakenly charged for services they have not used. RightPatient ensures that the patient is accurately identified from the beginning to the end of the process – substantially reducing denied claims. 

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Enhanced patient experience

An optimized revenue cycle means that the FTEs will spend less time on redundant tasks such as rechecking coding and billing for errors and focus more on providing better care to the patients – enhancing the patient experience. 

Higher and faster collections 

It is quite simple – if the revenue cycle is optimized, there will be higher collections with a lower number of errors. FTEs, thus, do not have their hands full of coding and billing errors – giving them the time to focus on the remaining collections, improving efficiency in the process. 

Accurate patient information 

An optimized revenue cycle means that you are ensuring patient data integrity; that is, from the beginning of caregiving to collections, the correct patient has been identified. This can be easily achieved using an accurate patient identification platform like RightPatient.

Better financial returns

One of the most vital parts of a healthcare provider that everyone scrutinizes, other than treating patients, is its financial performance. After all, these are the indicators as to how well a provider is doing. An optimized revenue cycle means that there are increased clean claims, faster collections, lower lost claims, and accurate patient data – all leading to improved revenue of the provider.

Since COVID-19 is still affecting the financial performance of providers, they need to ensure that their revenue cycle is as optimized as possible. 

Optimize revenue cycle with RightPatient

Optimized revenue cycle management in healthcare means that you need to have the correct data for the patient and you are ensuring that he/she is being billed accurately throughout the whole process. Thus, for a better revenue cycle, you need to ensure accurate patient identification. This is where RightPatient can help you.

It is a touchless biometric patient identification platform and is used by leading healthcare providers for a number of reasons. It prevents medical identity theft, optimizes the revenue cycle, reduces denied claims, prevents duplicate record creation, enhances patient safety, and more – leading to improved financials, boosting the bottom lines in the process. 

Upon registration, RightPatient locks the medical records of the patients with their photos. Whenever an enrolled patient comes in, all he/she needs to do is look at the camera and it identifies them within seconds, providing the correct patient record to the EHR user and ensuring accurate patient identification. This ensures that the correct patient is identified right from the start – reducing billing errors and denied claims and optimizing revenue cycle in the process. This is something that every provider needs to ensure to survive during this unprecedented situation.

RightPatient has years of experience and has been helping protect over 10 million patient records. Duke Health and Community Medical Centers, among others, are using RightPatient to ensure safe, hygienic, and accurate patient identification. Are you optimizing your revenue cycle sensibly?