Patient-safety-and-quality-improvement-is-possible-with-RightPatient

Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Can be Achieved with Positive Patient Identification

Among the several issues faced by the US healthcare system, one of the more prominent is patient misidentification. We know this to be true because even during the coronavirus pandemic, experts have stated that patient matching issues were continuing. Moreover, coalitions were formed to demand the fabled “unique patient identifier” once again. But why do healthcare providers demand patient identifiers time and again? Let’s take a look at some statistics that show how serious the issue is, some consequences caused by the absence of effective patient identification, and how patient safety and quality improvement are related to it.

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Patient identification issues are nothing new

The last decade has been a transition towards technology for the US healthcare system. Caregivers such as physician practices, hospitals, and health systems have made the jump from traditional paper medical records towards the more standard electronic health records (EHRs). However, as they did so, they saw the issues that occurred due to the absence of an effective patient identifier nationwide. One of the biggest challenges is matching patients to their accurate medical record whenever they arrive for healthcare services. Let’s review some recent statistics about how common misidentifications are. 

Some stats to back it up

According to a study conducted by eHealth Initiative, approximately 38% of the respondents have suffered from an unwanted event caused by patient misidentification within the last 2 years. Many of these events are caused by duplicate medical records, and an overwhelming 66% of the respondents blame data entry errors that lead to duplicates. Moreover, 80% of the providers have dedicated FTEs (full-time employees) or third-party contractors to solve these issues. The biggest barriers to reducing poor patient matching were the lack of prioritization and the lack of technology. 32% of the caregivers stated that they had around 3-10% duplicates within their EHR systems. All of these statistics show that patient misidentification is growing and needs to be addressed by caregivers. Fortunately, many hospitals and health systems are already using touchless patient identification platforms like RightPatient to solve these issues, but more on that later. Let’s see how patient misidentification is a barrier to patient safety and quality improvement.

Patient misidentification hampers patient safety and quality improvement

While patient misidentification causes a lot of problems for any given caregiver and patient, let’s take a look at how it impacts patient safety, and in turn, healthcare quality.

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Patient misidentification is closely related to duplicate medical records

Duplicates can lead to patient misidentification and vice versa. For instance, if a patient comes in and provides their nickname instead of the name on the medical record, the registrar won’t be able to accurately identify the medical record. Thus, after failing to find the record, a new one gets created, leading to another duplicate record within the EHR system.

Likewise, if there are many duplicates within the system against the same patient, there are high chances that all of them have incomplete and inconsistent information. This will lead to matching the patient to the improper medical record. Both of these scenarios will lead to incorrect procedures, adversely impacting patient safety.

Patient misidentification hampers patient data integrity

As previously stated, data entry errors are quite common during registration. Thus, if patients are associated with the wrong medical record, they will be treated based on someone else’s medical history, illnesses, allergies, and so on. One single pill can severely impact the patient’s health – one can imagine what would happen if the whole procedure was wrong! Such cases have led to delayed care, repeated lab tests, and compromised patient safety.

Patient misidentification leads to medical errors

Quite closely tied with the previous point, patient safety and quality improvement cannot be achieved if medical errors keep occurring. While medical errors happen for a variety of reasons, many are preventable, and as stated previously, 38% of the healthcare providers surveyed reported that they suffered from medical errors tied to patient misidentification. These errors could have easily been prevented had the caregivers used robust patient identity matching solutions.

Patient safety and quality improvement is achievable with RightPatient

Leading healthcare providers such as Catholic Health Services of Long Island, Terrebonne General Medical Center, Community Medical Centers, among others, have been using RightPatient and improving patient safety and quality of care. As the healthcare industry’s leading touchless patient identification platform, RightPatient has years of experience helping hospitals and health systems identify patients’ accurate medical records across the continuum of care. The platform uses patients’ photos to identify their accurate medical records, prevent medical identity theft, avoid duplicate records, and prevent medical errors – enhancing patient safety and ensuring a hygienic environment that will be crucial in a post-pandemic world.

Contact us right away to learn how we can help you achieve your goals.

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Top Reasons for Using a Robust Patient Identification Platform

Even though the novel coronavirus and its effects are dominating headlines (as well as our social lives and safety), patient identification issues have not been far behind. Those who are up to date with the U.S. healthcare system know that the UPI (unique patient identifier) has been trending once again – healthcare leaders across the states are urging lawmakers to lift the ban this year as well. While the future is uncertain due to COVID-19, even if the ban is lifted and the UPI created, providers would need to couple it with a robust patient identification platform such as RightPatient. Let’s take a look at why such a platform would be perfect for patient identification, with or without the UPI.

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It eliminates risks associated with contact-based patient identification platforms

There are many patient identification platforms available – we’ve talked about them several times. However, the responsible healthcare providers always choose touchless platforms as they don’t have the problems associated with touch-based patient identification systems – let’s take a precise look at what those are.

Patients have to touch the devices while using most patient identification systems. Naturally, this would entail concerns regarding infection control – these are used within the premises of healthcare providers who serve the sick, after all. Thus, there’s quite a high chance that one patient can unwittingly infect others when they verify their identity using such systems.

One unfeasible remedy to avoid infection control issues would be to clean the devices after every verification – imagine the administrative nightmare! Thus, even if these systems are accurate (fingerprint scanning, for instance), they are not at all suitable for such environments housing cases that may potentially lead to infection control issues.

Secondly, since these are contact-based, many, if not all the patients, would be reluctant to touch these devices. In the post-pandemic world, almost everyone is well-informed about how dangerous contact-based solutions can be. Thus, the COVID-19 crisis has rendered even accurate touch-based solutions ineffective as patient acceptance rates would be significantly lower now. 

Thankfully, touchless patient identification eliminates all these issues – more on that later.

A robust patient identification platform helps avoid duplicate records and overlays

Since we’ve already established that touchless patient identification is the only feasible choice in a post-COVID-19 world, let’s look at the other proven benefits of such a system, starting with duplicate medical records.

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Whenever a healthcare provider uses an obsolete patient identification platform (the most common one being asking patients questions), they’re bound to get confused when seeing the multiple medical records assigned to the single patient. They have to dig through them to find the accurate and most up to date one each time the patient arrives. In some cases, they might even create a new record just to avoid the hectic procedure – adding another duplicate record into the mix. These lead to delayed patient care, compromised patient safety, and impact healthcare outcomes. 

Overlays are even more dangerous – these are the merging of medical records of the same or different patients. Imagine being treated with someone else’s medical history – the treatment will be botched right from the start.

A robust patient identification system, however, can avoid such issues. By ensuring that the correct medical record is identified every time across the care continuum, duplicate records and overlays are avoided as well as the issues associated with them.

It prevents medical identity theft

One of the bigger healthcare concerns is data breaches that ultimately lead to medical identity theft. After buying the stolen patient information from hackers, the fraudsters use that to bypass obsolete patient identification systems and gain unauthorized access to medicine, treatment, and expensive medical devices. However, robust patient identification systems like RightPatient can prevent medical identity theft in real-time. When the fraudster has to verify their identity, the identification platform red flags them upon detecting that the fraudster’s photo and the photo in the medical record saved by RightPatient don’t match. Thus, patients and providers are protected from the consequences of medical identity theft, even if the data is breached, thanks to positive patient identification.

It ensures that you send out proper e-notifications

Healthcare providers will require software that supports e-notifications to patients’ other caregivers beginning May 1st, 2021, as per the CMS. This system is designed to promote interoperability and ensure proper care coordination.

However, to send out e-notifications to the appropriate caregivers, the hospital needs to ensure that they are identifying the proper patient first. Otherwise, the hospital might end up sending alerts to the wrong caregiver or information about the wrong patient. This can easily be avoided if a proper patient identity verification system is in place. 

RightPatient does all of the above – and more

RightPatient is the leading patient identification solution used by forward-thinking caregivers. Healthcare providers who are currently using RightPatient don’t need to think about infection control issues now – they thought about it before COVID-19. It uses photos of patients to identify their records. Patients take a selfie and a photo of their driver’s license after appointment scheduling. RightPatient checks the selfie and the driver’s license to ensure a proper match. During hospital visits, patients enrolled under RightPatient only need to look at the camera – the platform finds the appropriate record within seconds. If fraudsters try to assume a user’s identity, it red flags them, preventing medical identity theft in the process.

Contact us now to see how we are helping leading providers like TGMC, CHSLI, and Grady Health.

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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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A Futureproof Patient Identification Protocol Can Help Mitigate Providers’ Losses

COVID-19 has been one of the biggest catastrophes to hit the world in modern times. There is literally no aspect of our lives it didn’t affect. Unfortunately, it will continue to affect us – experts are saying that the second wave is already here in the US. However, healthcare providers are still reeling from the ongoing surge of COVID-19 patients as well as the unprecedented losses faced due to the pandemic. With hospitals and health systems having to make hard choices like laying off employees, introducing pay cuts, and furloughing employees, is there any way to mitigate the losses? Yes, there are many, but the most sensible choice for providers would be to adopt a futureproof patient identification protocol like RightPatient. Let’s explore further.

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Hospitals expected to lose $323 billion in 2020!

And that is apparently an understatement. Losses might even exceed $323 billion, depending on the inevitable surges during the rest of the year as well as the increasing number of cases in some specific states.

The breakdown

During the final half of the year 2020, hospitals are set to lose at least $120.5 billion, especially due to lower inpatient visits, whereas an estimated $202.6 billion has been lost between March and June, according to AHA.

COVID-19 has affected all industries in the US, but its healthcare system is clearly the one it hit the worst – $323 billion is no small number. Since the pandemic started, hospitals had to reprioritize to deal with the surge of COVID-19 patients. Healthcare providers canceled elective procedures and non-COVID-19 patients were advised to use telehealth, reducing inpatient visits and leading to most of the financial losses.

Moreover, COVID-19 is causing hospitals to face higher expenses. PPE and ventilators, for instance, were not used as extensively prior to the pandemic. As previously mentioned, providers had to lay off employees, furlough them, or reduce their salaries, while others were even forced to close down due to the financial strain. Let’s look at some of the recent victims.

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Some recent victims

BRMC (Bluefield Regional Medical Center) will be permanently closing down by July 30th, 2020. Financial damages due to the pandemic, lower patient volumes, and reimbursement rates were contributing factors that forced the officials to make this tough decision.

Saint Luke’s Health System will permanently close the doors of its Cushing Hospital in Kansas on October 1st, after closing down its inpatient unit on July 17th – another victim of COVID-19.

HealthPartners will shut down seven clinics and has stated that it will lay off 200 employees at two of those seven facilities. This, too, is because of the financial pressure brought by the pandemic. 

Suffering from financial challenges tied to the pandemic, UW Medicine will lay off 100 employees. This comes after it has already furloughed 4000 unionized employees and 1500 non-union ones. It has also received around $180 million in provider relief funding, but sadly, it looks like that will not be enough to offset the damages caused by COVID-19.

These are just some of the numerous cases that show the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on healthcare providers and how the pandemic is forcing them to make tough choices. Sadly, we are only halfway through this pandemic-driven year – we do not know what’s in store for us. 

Healthcare providers need to reduce costs significantly in order to survive this challenging phase – perhaps the most challenging one they have ever faced. So, is there anything that can help them mitigate their costs? 

An effective patient identification protocol can help

While healthcare providers are searching desperately for ways to reduce their costs, they can do so by preventing medical identity theft, avoiding duplicate medical records, and preventing patient identification errors. All they need to do is upgrade their patient identification protocol.

Before doing that, healthcare providers need to evaluate their current patient identification protocols.

  • Is it ensuring accurate patient identification across the care continuum?

  • Is it preventing medical identity theft?

  • Is it preventing duplicate record creation?

  • Is it ensuring a hygienic environment for patients and employees?

  • Does it have a high acceptance rate among patients?

  • Is it futureproof?

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If even one of the answers to the questions listed above is no, then providers seriously need to upgrade their patient identity matching systems within their facilities. This is where RightPatient can help hospitals and health systems to reduce their losses and improve patient identification.

Achieve accurate patient identification with RightPatient

RightPatient is a photo-based patient identification platform that checks all the boxes for being an effective patient identifier. During registration, the platform locks the medical records of the patients with their photos. Returning patients simply look at the camera and are identified by the platform within seconds – providing the EHR user with accurate medical records. It also prevents medical identity theft, as fraudsters are red-flagged when they face the robust verification process. 

RightPatient prevents duplicate record creation, reduces denied claims, and prevents avoidable medical errors in the process to enhance patient safety.

Even before the pandemic, responsible healthcare leaders chose RightPatient because its touchless platform eliminated any chances of infection control issues during its usage – something that other conventional patient identifiers do not possess. RightPatient has over 99% patient acceptance rate – it provides a seamless, hygienic, and easy way for ensuring proper identification, improving patient safety and quality of care

The pandemic requires providers to switch to a touchless patient identifier and reduce healthcare costs significantly – try RightPatient now and experience the difference it makes.

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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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Infection Control in Hospitals – How it Should be Addressed as Hospitals Reopen

COVID-19, “the novel coronavirus”, “corona” – it goes by a lot of names. Whatever you choose to call it, one thing everyone can certainly agree on is that it is an unprecedented phenomenon that has changed the reality for all of us. Many of us have not met friends or family members for months, have not left our homes, and are practicing social distancing to save ourselves and our loved ones from getting infected. However, one of the only exceptions to be highlighted are healthcare workers. They have been tirelessly providing services over the last few months – tackling the relatively new disease on the frontlines, with many even getting infected with it in the process. However, hospitals need to ensure patient safety as they are opening up gradually. With that in mind, infection control in hospitals is mostly focused on the busiest areas of their premises. What about the first point of contact? Is it safe for patients? Is the process touchless, accurate, and hygienic? Let’s analyze how RightPatient can reduce infection control issues for you during the arrival of patients.

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Infection control in hospitals

First of all, infection control in hospitals aims to reduce the spreading of infectious diseases and keep the number of infected individuals, incidents causing infections, or the possibilities leading to outbreaks as low as possible. This is quite a tricky task, as it is not always possible to keep these criteria in check.

However, everyone mostly focuses on the other areas of the health systems and are overlooking the first point of contact – patient registration desks, EDs, and so on. For most of the providers, that is usually where all patients go first to receive healthcare services. If not kept in check, these points of entries might turn into infection control issues. For instance, if the place gets contaminated, every patient coming afterward will be potentially infected unless it is decontaminated properly. That itself is an administrative nightmare and will force the hospital to block off the area, leading to delays or hold-ups in services, causing significant losses in the process. As one can clearly see, this is something that any healthcare provider would want to avoid, which is why infection control issues were always a concern for leading healthcare providers.

Patients are wary of infection control issues now

While infection control in hospitals, or lack thereof, was only a common headache for the providers, the coronavirus pandemic has led to it being a headache for everyone else as well. Nowadays, everyone is well aware of how the virus spreads and they are scrutinizing how hospitals can and are reducing or managing infection control issues.

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While the US healthcare system has been going all out to deal with the overwhelming number of patients, many providers are slowly opening their doors to regular patients requiring urgent care. For these patients, the hospitals need to be up to speed and ensure that they are improving patient safety and quality of care so that patients feel right at home and go through the caregiving process without any unwanted incidents.

While COVID-19 has instilled the fear of how good or bad infection control in hospitals is, what can the providers do to reduce spreading the disease at the first point of contact?

RightPatient – the futureproof patient identifier

It is a touchless biometric patient identification platform and has a variety of benefits. But how does it work exactly?

RightPatient locks the medical records of the patients with their photos upon registration. After enrollment, the patient just comes in and looks at the camera – RightPatient then matches the photo with the one saved alongside the medical record. It provides the saved medical record within seconds – ensuring accurate patient identification.

Leading healthcare providers understand the importance of positive patient identification and how it affects them. They have been using RightPatient for years and one of the reasons they chose it is because it is the most hygienic way to identify patients accurately and quickly without causing any infection control issues like other touch-based solutions.

While leading healthcare providers have been reducing infection control issues for years, you can do it now – preventing medical identity theft in real-time, reducing denied claims, and preventing duplicate medical records – all with a single platform that can be seamlessly integrated with your EHR system. RightPatient proudly protects over 10 million patient records and boosts the bottom lines of several healthcare providers.

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Patient Identity Management is More Important Than Ever – Are you Doing it Right?

Patient identity management, to put it very simply, refers to how patients are being identified in hospitals. However, anyone who knows the US healthcare system is familiar with the fact that it is quite a significant problem for the majority of healthcare providers. Lack of proper patient identity management is a problem not only for healthcare providers but for everyone involved in healthcare, including patients and insurance companies. While healthcare providers incur financial costs as well as the loss of goodwill, patients face financial costs as well as the wrong treatment and medications, hampering patient safety. Even though there are effective solutions, the coronavirus pandemic has rendered most of them ineffective. Let’s dive deep into why patient identification errors occur, how they have been solved until now, and why the future of patient identity management will be different (read touchless) due to COVID-19.

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Reasons for patient identification errors

Patient identification errors have always been present. Earlier, patient record mix-ups were the main reason when paper medical records were used. To put it simply, patient records were mixed up when the patients had common names and characteristics such as age, address, etc. Fast forward to the age of EHR (electronic health record) systems, where things have become quite complicated. Human errors, negligence, and relevant external factors have caused EHR systems to house duplicate medical records as well as overlays, causing patient identification errors to be more prevalent than ever. 

Duplicate medical records can be created for the same patient. For instance, if a patient goes to avail of healthcare services, the first thing the provider would do is identify the patient’s medical record. For various reasons, the EHR user cannot identify the correct medical record (say, the EHR user sees that there are multiple records for the same name). Either the hospital staff spends more time painstakingly searching for the right medical record, or else creates a new record, the latter leading to a duplicate being created. This duplicate will lead to fragmented data and patient care – neither the correct record will house the most recent data of the patient nor the new one will contain the entire medical history of the patient. All in all, this will hamper patient safety, and increase costs. 

Medical record overlays are created when multiple records are merged, and this can be for the same patient having duplicate records as well as a different patient having the same characteristics as another patient. As can be understood, overlays are quite dangerous as it mixes information from different patients.

On top of all that, the classic cases of patient mix-ups still exist. A few months ago, two patients got mixed up regarding a kidney transplant – the wrong patient got the kidney. Fortunately, nobody was hurt as the kidney was compatible with the wrong patient. This mix-up occurred due to the patients having similar names, age, as well as being lined up for kidney transplants, albeit on different dates. While both the patients surviving without major issues was a huge stroke of luck, not everyone is as fortunate. There have been many cases where mistaken patient identities caused deaths

All in all, patient identification errors cause a plethora of problems for everyone involved, which makes an effective patient identity management solution like RightPatient all the more crucial, especially in a post-COVID-19 world.

Common patient identity management solutions

By far, the most common and obsolete way of patient identification is asking patients questions. Even in this day and age, many hospitals are still using this simply ineffective method. Patients are asked to state their names, addresses, and other relevant data to crosscheck against present medical records. This is slow, tedious, and also dangerous – someone can just assume the identity of another patient and commit medical identity theft. Healthcare data breaches are quite common, and hackers steal patient data, only to sell it later on the black market. An impostor can just buy the data and assume the identity of the patient, and if this outdated way of identifying patients with questions is used, the actor cannot be detected easily.

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Another way healthcare providers identify patients is by using patient ID wristbands. While this might seem like a better patient identity management solution, it also has its flaws. To begin with, patient ID wristbands can be transferred, stolen, or lost. This can lead to medical identity theft as well. On top of that, it requires contact – something hospitals are quite wary of and now patients are too, given the coronavirus pandemic. Infection control issues have always been a headache for providers, but COVID-19 has made it a concern for the general public as well. For the next several years, people will be quite reluctant to touch anything, especially within hospitals. 

That brings us to touch-based biometric patient identification solutions like fingerprint and palm-vein scanning. While these are far more effective patient identity management platforms, as there is no way for anyone to fool biometrics, these too pose threats to patient safety. Even before COVID-19, one of the main factors healthcare providers considered before choosing a patient identification platform was how safe it was and whether any infection control issues would arise from using the platform. For both fingerprint and palm-vein scanning, patients had to touch the devices, leading to potential infection control issues. On top of that, cleaning the devices after every use would be a nightmare, to say the least.

The futureproof patient identity management solution

RightPatient is the most apt patient identification platform, moving forward. Why? Because RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification platform. It locks the medical records of the patients with their photos upon registration. Whenever a patient comes to the healthcare provider, all the patient needs to do is look at the camera and the platform identifies the correct medical record within seconds, making it the easiest, most seamless, and completely touchless experience.

Leading healthcare providers like Terrebonne General Medical Center, University Health Care System, and Community Medical Centers, among others, have chosen RightPatient because it creates no infection control issues – one of the benefits of being a touchless solution.

Moving forward, the majority of healthcare providers are opening up in phases, and they would need to ensure patient safety. Hospitals have already lost a lot of money due to the pandemic, and they need to start mitigating losses. RightPatient can help providers with that – by both ensuring accurate patient identification and eliminating any touch-based interactions required during the process. This helps reduce denied claims, improves the revenue cycle, and prevents medical identity theft. Mitigate losses now with RightPatient.

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Patient Identity Verification Must be Touchless After COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has been the biggest changemaker in recent decades. After months of lockdown, social distancing, and gradual reopening of society, new cases are being seen in the US again. While everything may seem uncertain for now, one thing is for sure – COVID-19 has changed reality for everyone. Going to restaurants and hanging out with friends are things of the past now and there is no telling when all this will be normal again. The coronavirus has highlighted one thing in particular that will stay for us with a long time to come – how to reduce physical contact with others. Healthcare providers have had headaches of infection control issues for years now, but it is the headache of the average patient after the pandemic shook the world. While there will be a rise in usage and demand in touchless technology in the future, such as facial/voice recognition attendance systems, printing board passes via gestures, etc., one area where it is crucially needed is during the patient identity verification process. Let’s analyze the current condition of patient identification processes used, why a uniform identifier is not used by providers, and how leading healthcare providers are ensuring accurate patient identification.

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Patient identity verification – the current scenario

Patient identification errors have been a much-discussed topic in this space, and for good reason. It is still one of the biggest problems healthcare providers are facing – leading to denied claims, medical identity theft, increased losses, and patient safety issues. While ineffective patient identity verification is a prevalent issue, different providers are implementing different solutions to solve them. But shouldn’t there be a uniform method of patient identification present? That is where the UPI comes in.

The mythical UPI

UPIs, or unique patient identifiers, have been the talk for years now. UPIs can be anything that is, as the name suggests, unique to a single patient. Its absence has led to quite a few problems within the US healthcare system, including duplicate medical records, waste, and preventable medical errors. In fact, John Hopkins has said that over 250,000 people in the US die due to medical errors, many of which are due to incorrect patient records and data. These unfortunate deaths could have been avoided with accurate patient identification. But why, then, is UPI still not a thing? Why do healthcare providers still struggle with patient identification? 

Healthcare providers, as well as respected leaders in the healthcare system, have been clamoring for a UPI for years now. In fact, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) mandates that a UPI be created for patients. However, there have been concerns since the beginning of talks regarding a UPI – how it might be stolen, misused, or worse, just like Social Security numbers. Basically, lawmakers were concerned as to how UPI could be kept private and confidential so that third parties cannot gain unauthorized access to it. Thus, back in 1998, Congress banned the authorization of a state-funded UPI. The stance has not changed after all these years. Even in 2019, the House of Representatives voted to revoke the ban, but the Senate let it stay. The lack of an effective patient identifier has been haunting the US healthcare industry ever since the UPI was banned in 1998.

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How is the US healthcare system verifying patient identity?

Different healthcare providers are using different methods for patient identity verification. However, most of them are rendered ineffective now due to the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier, only healthcare providers used to think about infection control issues. Now, it is a headache for the patients as well.

While some are waiting around for the government to approve a state-funded UPI, they are facing a constant struggle with the usage of an obsolete means to identify patients – asking them questions. This has a lot of loopholes – it is slow, tedious, and anyone can assume the identity of the patient as long as they have the patient’s data with them, leading to medical identity theft.

Others are using patient ID wristbands. While more effective than asking questions, this, too, can be stolen, transferred, and used to commit medical identity theft. Not to mention, these require physical contact as well, something that patients will very much be reluctant to do nowadays – a result of the pandemic.

An effective patient identity verification system is biometric patient identification. Once again, not all modalities are effective, safe, and practical. As mentioned earlier, the pandemic has changed reality for all of us – patient identification is no exception.

While biometric modalities like fingerprint and palm-vein scanning are effective, they require the one thing patients will not be ready to do for a long time – touch the device to verify their identities. Hospitals are the epicenter of infection control issues, and while every provider has been dealing with COVID-19 patients, regular patients will be quite hesitant to touch anything. This is especially applicable during patient identification, as they know all patients pass through this location, and contact-based devices might lead to infections.

Touchless patient identity verification is the future

This is where RightPatient comes in. We have been providing hospitals with a touchless biometric patient identification platform for years now. Since the beginning, our focus was to ensure patient safety, which is why we always suggested healthcare providers consider our touchless solution that eliminates any infection control headaches related to patient identification. Unlike touch-based solutions, our devices do not require cleaning after every use.

The medical records of the patients are locked with their photos upon registration. Whenever the patient returns, RightPatient identifies the right medical record within seconds after the patient looks at the camera. 

RightPatient has been serving leading healthcare providers like Community Medical Centers, University Medical Center, and Duke Health. It has helped with eliminating the creation of duplicate medical records, preventing medical identity theft, and enhancing patient safety through accurate patient identification in a hygienic manner.

We shared the same concerns healthcare providers have – how to ensure accurate patient identity verification while eliminating infection control issues. After the pandemic, patients have the same concern too. Are you addressing it correctly? If not, contact us right away.

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Patient Identity Matching – Solving an unsolved crisis with RightPatient

Accurate patient identity matching holds paramount significance across the U.S. healthcare system. Delivering the best possible patient experience, including safety and outcome, hinges on the ability of the healthcare providers to keep and maintain accurate medical records. Healthcare providers continue to struggle to accurately match their patients’ identities to their health records, and blame it on inaccurate and incomplete patient data, says the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Physicians should be able to retrieve accurate records on each patient’s medical history, including lab results, diagnoses, medications, imaging, surgeries, etc. to deliver the best patient care. Needless to say, accurate patient identity matching during the COVID-19 crisis is vital for ensuring a positive patient experience.

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Can healthcare providers solve the patient identity matching crisis? Yes, and the solution is RightPatient – a leading touchless biometric patient identity management platform that has been successfully helping many leading hospitals address this specific issue.

Accurate patient identity matching ensures that the right patient is associated with the right medical records within a healthcare system. It means knowing with certainty that a piece of medical information belongs to the correct individual. There are many consequences if records are mismatched, such as incorrect treatment, improper data entries which can lead to the creation of duplicate records, and medical identity theft. Effective patient identity matching is not just about patient safety, it also helps healthcare providers avoid financial losses associated with duplicate records and claim denials from medical identity theft. 

How costly are patient identity matching errors?

Let us look at this example. A patient’s kidney was surgically removed by the time physicians realized that there was no tumor. This blunder in the operating room of Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Mass., occurred when the patient’s CT scan was accidentally mixed up with the record of another patient who had the same name. The incident was widely reported in July 2016 when regulators came to investigate what exactly happened. Most people who read the accounts thought it was a rare blunder. But this type of blunder is not rare at all. 

Every day in medical clinics and hospitals, physicians assume they have an accurate picture of a patient’s medical history, diagnoses, lab results, and other information when they click into an electronic medical record (EMR). But this assumption can lead to fatal consequences, like the example mentioned above.

The problem is called patient identity matching error, a crisis that RightPatient has been addressing for years. One of the most severe match errors is when two patients’ medical records, with a similar or same name, get merged, leading to an erroneous organ removal or other nightmares. More common than this is the creation of duplicate medical records. For instance, Christina Elizabeth Smith, Cristina E. Smith, and C. E. Smith refers to the same individual, but her medical information is filed under three separate records. Neither the physician nor the patient will be aware of missing data points when they are discussing treatment decisions or procedures. 

The problem with common identifiers

Duplicate medical records can be created in many ways. One of the most common sources of duplicate records is making errors during the patient registration process. Other variations can be associated with identifying an unconscious patient when they are in the ER. Many times, duplicate records are also created due to demographic changes for the patient. Registrars face difficulties when patients change their last name or move to another place, so they create a new record for that individual. 

Patient identity matching errors can also occur when there is a variation in using common identifiers during the registration or identification process. A simple typo or mishearing the correct word can result in a mismatch in records. 

Common identifiers are also used to commit medical identity theft, an issue that healthcare providers have been trying to avoid for the past several years. A fraudster can easily get access to this type of information and fraudulently imitate someone else’s identity to get medication/benefits for their own use. 

These kinds of problems can be mitigated if common identifiers such as names, DOB, SSNs, or other demographic data used during the initial registration and identification process are replaced with the unique identifiers that RightPatient uses. For instance, identifying and authenticating an individual by using their iris pattern or a photo of their face. 

Accurate Patient Identity Matching with RightPatient

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identity management platform. Problems pertaining to duplicate records, medical identity theft, and record mismatch have been successfully mitigated by using RightPatient. Leading healthcare providers such as Terrebonne General Medical Center and The University Health Care System have successfully eliminated these sorts of problems and are continuously delivering the best experience for their patients with utmost clinical efficiency. 

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During the initial patient enrollment process, RightPatient will lock an individual’s medical records using their iris pattern or a photo of their face. Each time a patient arrives at the continuum of care, RightPatient will verify and authenticate their identity through an iris scanner, camera, or a webcam and retrieve their accurate medical records.

As a leader in the patient identity matching process, RightPatient helps healthcare providers to keep and maintain accurate medical records of their patients. Patient identity matching problems related to aggregating patient data via Health Information Exchanges (HIE) can be eliminated if all the healthcare providers adopt RightPatient, ensuring the best clinical outcome and data integrity across the healthcare system.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, touchless biometric technologies will play a key role in the next few years. RightPatient ensures safety and hygiene in a health facility by limiting physical contact between people and frequently touched high-risk surfaces, such as fingerprint scanners. Adopt RightPatient and make sure that one patient does not have multiple records in the master patient index (MPI) and that each piece of health information ends up in the correct patient record.

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Improve Quality and Safety in Healthcare With Touchless Patient Identification

In the medical field, elective procedures are surgeries that can be scheduled in advance, including those that are medically required. The U.S. healthcare industry is losing millions of dollars due to canceled elective procedures. Studies have found that surgical stays account for approximately 48% of hospitalization costs and elective procedures bring in $700 more per admission than emergency room admissions. For obvious reasons, many people have stopped going to hospitals, even those with critical medical conditions, since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. On the bright side, more than half of the health consumers now feel moderately safe about returning for elective procedures. But much of it will hinge on ensuring quality and safety in healthcare.

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Hospitals are considering when and how to recommence elective procedures as the surge in COVID-19 patients in some areas of the country has slowed down. But families and patients will want to know what changes the healthcare providers made from when they were told to stay at home. They want reassurance that hospitals have undertaken appropriate measures for ensuring quality and safety in healthcare delivery, and it will take time and proper resources for physicians to convince the consumers. 

Key takeaways

In a recent webinar panel discussion with some patient and family advisors conducted by Vizient, they found out that patients are likely to return to elective procedures in waves. The initial wave will include those who will come forward no matter the risks, such as oncology patients, patients with impairment affecting their daily life activities, or those in pain. This will be followed by the second wave, who may return if they feel safe about hospital hygiene, for instance, low risks of getting infected or a low-risk procedure with a minimum follow up. Other findings also include transparency and communications. To feel safe, patients will want to know that safety and infection prevention processes are in action, including cleaning of handrails, elevators, and other high-touch surfaces, and clinicians wearing personal protective equipment throughout the care.

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Feel safe with RightPatient’s touchless patient identification platform

As the aforementioned examples suggest, patients will demand assurance from providers that they are taking actions to ensure quality and safety in healthcare delivery. Adopting RightPatient’s platform is an ideal strategy to make sure of that. Elective procedures or not, at the initial stage, identifying patients accurately and matching their medical records is an integral part of the healthcare delivery process. As an industry leader, RightPatient has helped many healthcare providers tackle the patient identification crisis and improved quality and safety in healthcare delivery. With patients demanding more hygienic solutions, RightPatient’s touchless identification process can help hospitals convince healthcare consumers to come in during this or a post-COVID-19 crisis.

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RightPatient is an entirely touchless biometric patient identification platform. From pre-procedure through discharge, this platform can match a patient’s identity and pull up their correct medical records throughout the continuum of patient care. All a patient needs to do is get their photo captured by a smartphone, tablet, or a webcam from a safe distance, and RightPatient will instantly identify the patient and bring up their medical records. Additionally, RightPatient also has a remote patient authentication model. During this process, RightPatient can validate patient identities while they are at home by comparing their ID (e.g.driver’s license) and selfie photos. 

Clinical efficiency and positive patient experience will play a key role in hospitals gaining back their momentum. With RightPatient, patients can be reassured that their medical records are secure and healthcare providers can be at ease knowing there is zero chance of making a blunder in matching a patient’s identity. Besides accurate identification, this platform helps prevent medical identity theft and duplicate medical records as well, overall enhancing quality and safety in healthcare delivery.