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Improving Patient Outcomes Relies on Identifying Patients Even During COVID-19

Healthcare in the US has always had its fair share of troubles. Price transparency issues, medical identity theft, data breaches, denied claims, and interoperability issues are just some of the many issues plaguing it. However, it is having arguably one of the worst times it has ever faced due to COVID-19. To date, over 14 million American citizens have been infected with the infamous virus, whereas over 270,000 people have lost their lives battling it. Due to the spike, hospitals are shutting down, health systems are closing their emergency departments, elective surgeries are being canceled, and healthcare staff members are being pushed to their limits once again. It feels like a particularly bad déjà vu. While healthcare providers are doing whatever they can to help with improving patient outcomes, many are facing a critical issue that has been an impediment to quality healthcare for years – patient identification errors.

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Having said all that, let’s focus on: 

  • why patient identification errors are a big deal even during the pandemic
  • what healthcare providers are doing to address it
  • how a tried and tested solution ensures patient safety and quality healthcare, improving patient outcomes in the process

Patient misidentification is nothing new

Anyone who knows anything about the US healthcare system has heard at least one story about patient misidentification or something related to it, such as duplicate medical records, patient mix-ups, incorrect surgeries, medical errors, etc. It has been occurring for years, leading to delayed patient care, detrimental patient outcomes, repeated lab tests, among other consequences. While many caregivers have been facing all these challenges for quite some time, a large number of them didn’t pay much attention to the problems. Everything changed with the pandemic – let’s see how.

Improving patient outcomes is difficult due to existing issues

COVID-19 pushed everything to its limits, especially the healthcare providers, and they were forced to face the issues that significantly hamper patient outcomes. One of the more prevalent issues was, and still is, patient misidentification.

HIMSS VP of Government Relations, Tom Leary, said that public health response efforts can be significantly impacted by inaccurate patient data, and that’s exactly what happened during the first wave. Since patient identification was erroneous in most healthcare facilities, this led to improper data sharing, delayed test results, sending results to the wrong patients, and more. Nurses even tried to google patients so that they could send them the test results!

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COVID-19 is an unprecedented situation that requires prompt responses that can help save lives, and issues such as patient identification errors significantly hamper the efforts put forth by frontline teams. So, what are healthcare providers doing to address it?

Healthcare providers are urging for the UPI

The US healthcare system was supposed to get a unique patient identifier (UPI) years ago, but a bill had restricted state funding to create one. Since then, most healthcare providers have been struggling to identify their patients accurately. Each year, experts come together and urge the ban’s abolishment, but their requests get rejected every time – for almost two decades. Even if the mythical UPI is made, it won’t be enough to solve such a huge problem by itself.

However, not every hospital is struggling with patient identification errors – many forward-thinking ones are using RightPatient.

Improving patient outcomes is possible with RightPatient 

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that is the most feasible solution currently, given the pandemic. It uses the characteristic that cannot be stolen, lost, or transferred, patients’ faces, to verify identities. However, the part that makes RightPatient ideal for the pandemic is that it is entirely touchless, ensuring infection control and reducing hospital-acquired infections.

By locking medical records with patients’ photos, RightPatient protects patient data and accurately identifies patients. Moreover, it is versatile enough to be used across any touchpoint within a healthcare facility, starting from appointment scheduling.

After scheduling an appointment successfully, patients receive an SMS or email, and they are required to provide selfies as well as a photo of their driver’s license. The platform compares the photos for a match, ensuring remote authentication. If these are new patients, RightPatient provides them with new biometric credentials – making it a hassle-free experience. 

Within healthcare facilities, patients only need to look at the camera – the platform compares the live photo with the saved one. After finding a positive match, RightPatient provides accurate medical records within seconds. This helps prevent patient mix-ups, duplicate medical records, medical errors, denied claims, and patient safety incidents – improving patient outcomes. Moreover, it can also prevent medical identity theft in real-time, as it red-flags fraudsters who try to assume patients’ identities. 

RightPatient can enhance healthcare outcomes, improve patient safety, and reduce significant costs – something which is extremely crucial for hospitals right now in order to survive.

Contact us now to learn how we can help you improve your bottom line.

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2021’s Patient Safety Goals Show that Patient Identification Is the Topmost Concern

This has been a devastating year all around for the entire world due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects. Even though there have been a lot of issues within the US healthcare system that surfaced during the pandemic, one of the more prominent problems healthcare providers faced (and are still facing) is patient identification errors. Experts have talked about and how patient misidentification is detrimental to both patient safety and quality healthcare. Thus, it isn’t surprising that improving the accuracy of patient identification takes the top spot of 2021’s patient safety goals as per the Joint Commission.

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Let’s take a look at the new goals set by the Joint Commission, why improving patient identification can help achieve the other goals, and how RightPatient can help healthcare providers.

Patient safety goals for next year

The Joint Commission outlines the top patient safety concerns that healthcare providers must address each year based on available information. Patient identification has been on the list almost constantly because errors can cause a lot of adverse effects for patient safety, healthcare outcomes, hospitals’ finances, etc. – more on that later.

Let’s take a look at the national patient safety goals for the upcoming year 2021:

  • Identify patients accurately.
  • Improve staff communication.
  • Safely use medicines.
  • Reduce patient harm by improving clinical alarm systems.
  • Reduce hospital-acquired infections.
  • Identify patient safety risks within the healthcare facility.
  • Prevent surgical mistakes.

While these are different issues, some of these patient safety goals can be met, or at least the unwanted incidents can be reduced, by ensuring accurate patient identification with RightPatient.

How patient identification ties in with other patient safety goals

While patient identification errors might seem trivial to some, there have been many complaints about the different problems which were consequences of misidentification – not finding the accurate medical record, delays in care, repeated tests, etc. As a result, many healthcare experts are clamoring for the mythical national patient identifier once again this year. However, national patient identifier or not, patient identification must be accurate to mitigate patient safety issues. Moreover, by ensuring accurate patient identification, other patient safety goals can be met – let’s explore how.

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Improving staff communication

Communication is crucial for ensuring improved healthcare outcomes and reducing patient safety incidents across the care continuum. By ensuring that patient data is accurate and consistent, it will enhance outcomes, as most patient safety incidents occur when patient data is corrupted, fragmented, obsolete, or inconsistent.

When patients are accurately identified every time at any touchpoint across the hospital, it helps maintain patient data integrity, ensures that the correct information regarding the patient is used, leading to accurate test results being passed to the appropriate personnel at the right time.

Safely use medicines

Many patient safety incidents occur because of simply giving the wrong patients the wrong medicine, incorrect doses, and/or at the wrong time, leading to preventable medical errors. While clearly labeling and rechecking do help, many medical errors occur because of patient misidentification. For instance, if the patient is misidentified right from registration, rechecking the name or information won’t help, as it belongs to someone else entirely.

If patients are accurately identified from the start, not only will patient misidentification be eliminated, but medical errors will be prevented too, enhancing patient safety and improving healthcare outcomes in the process.

Prevent surgical mistakes

This is somewhat related to the previous point, but medical record mix-ups do lead to the wrong surgeries being performed as well. If the patient is misidentified during registration, rechecking won’t help, as it will lead to the wrong surgery being performed on the wrong patient. 

Only by identifying patients accurately at the front-end can mistakes such as patient record mix-ups be prevented effectively.

Reduce hospital-acquired infections

Now, how can patient identification reduce hospital-acquired infections (HAIs)?

Well, as there is no standardized patient identifier present in the US healthcare system, many caregivers are using different solutions to fit their needs. However, many of these solutions can be ineffective and are touch-based, which is a major challenge, given the pandemic. These touch-based solutions can lead to infection control issues, as they require contact by multiple individuals. If an infected person uses it, the subsequent patients will be infected as well, leading to a disastrous situation.

However, many caregivers are using innovative solutions such as RightPatient – a touchless biometric patient identification platform. It uses the patients’ photos to ensure that the patients are who they claim to be, preventing patient identification errors, mix-ups, duplicate medical records, and more. It can also be used across any touchpoint, starting from appointment scheduling.

How RightPatient works – improving patient safety

Patients need to provide a selfie and a photo of their driver’s license – the platform automatically compares them for a match, remotely verifying their identities. During inpatient visits, the patients only need to look at the camera – the platform provides accurate medical records within seconds after comparing the live picture with the saved one.

RightPatient thus prevents HAIs as it is a contactless solution, enhancing patient safety, improving patient outcomes, and reducing preventable medical errors across the care continuum.

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Infection Control in Hospitals is Imperative as COVID-19 Cases Increase

COVID-19 is a phenomenon that has crippled almost the entire world. Even in those very rare countries where it didn’t infect many people, it did hurt their economies. The majority of developing countries are severely affected by the novel virus, leading to disruption in international businesses and global transactions. However, one can safely say that COVID-19 has affected America the worst – it is currently seeing huge spikes across the states, where officials are introducing new safety measures. Let’s take a look at the most recent record-breaking statistics of US COVID cases, some measures officials are implementing to mitigate its spread, and practices that will help ensure infection control in hospitals – improving patient safety and quality of care.

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US COVID-19 cases keep breaking records

Unfortunately, the US has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world – over 11.3 million! Moreover, it keeps on making new records: November 13 saw 184,514 new cases, according to John Hopkins University. This is in line with experts’ predictions – many stated that things will get worse during the fall. Ultimately, all of this will add to the huge amount of pressure healthcare providers are already facing – the COVID Tracking Project saw over 68,000 hospitalizations on November 13 where 6% of the patients were on ventilators and 19% in ICUs.

Needless to say, these numbers are frightening, with officials introducing measures to mitigate further spread. Let’s review some of the emergency measures introduced within some states.

Some recent measures to mitigate COVID-19’s spread

Oregon will see restrictions on gyms, restaurants, and retail stores. Virginia issued a mask mandate for anyone older than five starting on the 15th of November. New Mexico will be facing a two-week shutdown that consists of nonessential activities starting from 16th November.  Many other locations are seeing similar restrictions to ensure social distancing practices as a result of ever-increasing cases.

While these measures are in place to lower potential COVID-19 cases, infection control in hospitals must be ensured so that cases don’t spread within healthcare facilities. Let’s explore why this is important.

Why is infection control in hospitals important?

Of healthcare providers’ many responsibilities, preventing hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) has been a topmost priority for many of them. Hospitals are constantly looking to improve practices that enhance infection control and prevent HAIs. It is a crucial role of any hospital because, if not ensured, it will lead to compromised patient safety, undesirable healthcare outcomes, and create a chain of events that will jeopardize the entire healthcare facility. However, prior to the pandemic, HAIs used to be a headache of healthcare providers only; but now, contracting diseases is the concern of virtually everyone, especially those in hospitals.

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COVID-19 has shown how effective communication can be in this day and age – any new update regarding the novel virus can be shared and seen by anyone, thanks to the internet. Almost everyone has extensive knowledge about the do’s and don’ts, and they are quite reluctant to visit hospitals since they know that’s where the COVID-19 patients are going. Thus, healthcare providers need to ensure infection control in hospitals and enhance patient safety as well as the safety of the frontline staff members. Let’s take a look at how hospitals can reduce HAIs, some of which are according to WHO, and improve healthcare outcomes as a result.

Practices to ensure infection control in hospitals

Create an effective infection control policy

The foundation of having zero to minimal HAIs is to have an effective infection control policy at hand. Healthcare providers wanting strict infection control must plan for it in advance, and this plan should contain guidelines for dealing with HAIs, identifying affected patients, locations to place the patients in isolation, and the duration of such events.

Washing hands thoroughly and regularly

While this might seem obvious at this point, it is still one of the most important practices to ensure infection control in hospitals and save lives in the process. Washing hands regularly with liquids containing antimicrobial agents for twenty seconds is a must, especially after interacting with extractions, contaminated items, blood, secretions, etc. Keep sanitizers within a short distance of each other so that patients and caregivers both have access to them. If possible, use automatic dispensers to make it a touchless and safer experience for everyone involved.

Enforce PPE usage

PPE is a term that has been tossed around since the beginning of the pandemic, and for good reason. While healthcare professionals have been using it for decades to prevent HAIs, virtually everyone uses some form of PPE nowadays to protect themselves. Unfortunately, not everyone follows best practices, which will ultimately put others at risk.

Enforcing PPE usage for everyone within a healthcare facility is a good practice, regardless of their designation. Simply putting up signs saying “No PPE, No Service” will be quite effective for patients. For the healthcare staff members, surgical masks, face shields, gloves, gowns, etc., must always be present whenever they are within the facilities.

Keeping surfaces clean

Viruses linger on surfaces for days, and keeping them clean is the best solution to prevent HAIs. We can significantly reduce HAIs by monitoring the materials and environmental surfaces that are touched frequently and disinfecting them regularly and thoroughly, such as beds, handles, etc.

Using touchless solutions that ensure infection control

While many touchless solutions will be popping up within the next few years, there is one that is already being used by many healthcare providers to prevent infection control issues – RightPatient. It is a touchless patient identification platform that uses patients’ photos to lock medical records and verify their identities. Enrolled patients only need to look at the camera – the platform matches the live photo with the saved one, providing the appropriate medical record within seconds without requiring any physical contact, and ensuring patient safety and hygiene.

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Patient Safety and Communication are Critical as Patient Visits Return to Pre-pandemic Levels

COVID-19 has changed everything in unparalleled ways. Gone are the days when we could hang out casually with friends, be safe without PPE, and commute without the fear of catching the virus. It is quite natural that COVID-19 has impacted organizations and industries as well, and arguably, the US healthcare system is facing the worst consequences. The pandemic has affected every aspect of healthcare as we know it, and healthcare providers will be facing the consequences for years. They were forced to postpone elective procedures and outpatient visits to accommodate the surge of COVID-19 patients. While that was at the beginning of the year, many caregivers are now witnessing increased outpatient visits. Let’s take a look at some numbers regarding the fluctuation of outpatient visits, what caregivers should focus on now, and how patient safety and communication can be achieved with positive patient identification.

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What has been the situation since the pandemic hit?

While the novel coronavirus has rattled almost every country’s healthcare system, America’s is the one it hit the worst. In addition to the many pre-existing issues with the healthcare system, the US has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world. In order to make room for the numerous COVID-19 cases, as already mentioned, caregivers had to cancel elective surgeries and also encourage non-critical patients to opt for telehealth visits. 

Updates regarding outpatient visits

The Commonwealth Fund was closely following the updates of patient volumes within hospitals – let’s take a look at the numbers.

Outpatient visits took a significant hit – they had reduced by almost 60% during the early stages of the pandemic. The update provided by the Commonwealth Fund during May showed that patients were returning for outpatient visits, however, they were still one-third lower compared to pre-pandemic numbers. Also, the latest report shows that weekly outpatient visits are somewhat higher now, compared to the pre-pandemic period.

Outpatient visits vary

While this is a good sign for healthcare providers, it must be noted that these vary greatly depending on age, location, specialty, etc. For instance, in-person visits from younger patients are still lower than they were before the pandemic. Visits are higher for urologists, dermatologists, and adult PCPs, whereas behavioral health providers are experiencing lower visits. More Medicare patients are coming for inpatient visits compared to the pre-pandemic period. Telemedicine visits were higher when inpatient visits declined, but its usage is declining. However, its usage is still much higher than it was before the pandemic.

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All these comparisons show that providers and patients are adapting to the new normal. Many patients are suffering from complex diseases and, due to the pandemic, they have been postponing healthcare visits for far too long. However, since restrictions are being lifted, patients are returning for outpatient visits in order to avail healthcare services. While providers are opening their doors to treat patients, they also need to ramp up their patient safety and communication efforts. After all, the post-pandemic world is completely new for everyone – there’s no tried and tested formula to ensure everyone’s safety. Healthcare providers also must make sure that their patients are not contracting COVID-19. Let’s see how this can be a possibility.

How patient safety and communication are hampered

All of the patients of any given hospital must first be identified. This happens either at the registration desks or within the emergency department. Different caregivers have different patient identity verification methods in place. Now, many caregivers either use inefficient methods, like questioning patients, or use solutions that have become outdated, such as contact-based patient identification platforms. 

When asking patients questions, there are high chances that the registrar or nurse will identify the wrong medical record – they might need to find the record from an EHR system that contains thousands. Moreover, duplicate medical records are quite prevalent. Whatever the case may be, such inefficient methods hamper patient safety, lead to poor communication, and adversely impact patient outcomes.

While many used touch-based solutions to identify patients before the pandemic, COVID-19 has rendered these solutions unsatisfactory. Many caregivers have witnessed significantly lower utilization of these solutions – patients simply are reluctant to touch them. This is because of the pandemic and the fear of contracting the virus, which is not unreasonable. Every patient of any given hospital is processed from registration desks and EDs – can you imagine how disastrous it would be if one of them had COVID-19? Once the infected patient touches the device, it would lead to everyone else becoming infected. Before, infection control was a common headache of caregivers, and now it is a concern for patients too. Touch-based solutions have always had an impact on patient safety, but only the most forward-thinking caregivers foresaw this. That’s why they went with RightPatient, improving patient safety and communication in the process.

RightPatient enhances patient safety

RightPatient is the leading patient identification platform used by caregivers who prioritize patient safety. It’s an entirely touchless solution that uses a powerful photo-based engine and patients’ faces to identify them across the care continuum. 

Whenever patients arrive at the hospital, all they need to do is look at the camera – the platform matches the saved photo taken during registration with the present one, ensuring an entirely touchless, hygienic, and safe experience for everyone involved. This eliminates the risk of contracting infectious diseases and enhances patient safety.

By identifying patients accurately right from appointment scheduling, as well as other touchpoints, RightPatient ensures patient data integrity by preventing data corruption, improving communication across the care continuum and reducing the chances of medical errors based on incorrect patient data.

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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.