five-tips-for-preventing-medical-identity-theft-in-healthcare

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. 

five-tips-for-preventing-medical-identity-theft-in-healthcare

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. 

rightpatient-prevents-medical-identity-theft-and-ensures-positive-patient-experience

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. 

5 Tips for Preventing Medical Identity Theft in Healthcare
5 Tips for Preventing Medical Identity Theft in Healthcare

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

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. 

rightpatient-leader-in-patient-identity-matching

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.

rightpatient-leader-in-patient-identity-matching

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. 

ensure-medical-record-accuracy-by-improving-patient-identity-matching-with-rightpatient

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.

Patient Identity Matching - Solving an unsolved crisis with RightPatient
Patient Identity Matching - Solving an unsolved crisis with RightPatient

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

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.

rightpatient-can-improve-quality-and-safety-in-healthcare

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.

rightpatient-can-improve-quality-and-safety-in-healthcare

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.

keep-your-healthcare-facility-hygienic-during-this-pandemic-and-improve-quality-and-safety-with-rightpatient

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.

improve-quality-and-safety-in-healthcare-with-rightpatient-touchless-patient-identification

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. 

Improve Quality and Safety in Healthcare With Touchless Patient Identification
Improve Quality and Safety in Healthcare With Touchless Patient Identification

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

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.

enhance-patient-safety-and-improve-hygiene-in-healthcare-facility-with-rightpatient

Enhance Patient Safety – Are you using a touchless solution for patient identification?

We are living through the COVID-19 pandemic. In times of crisis, the ability to provide treatments quickly and delivering clear communication are crucial.  The U.S healthcare system is responding to this crisis by detecting, testing, treating, isolating, and mobilizing patients as well as healthcare staff members. However, how healthcare providers are identifying their patients remains a key concern. Are they using contact-dependent or touchless solutions? Touchless solutions for patient identification have many benefits over contact-dependent options. Especially during a pandemic, the most important one might be obvious – they are ideal for hygiene and infection control. This can play an important role in patient safety. 

RightPatient-can-eliminate-risk-of-spreading-diseases-that-fignerprint-scanners-pose

The COVID-19 outbreak has been a prime catalyst for the growth and adoption of touchless identification processes. Many healthcare providers are also looking for ways to enhance patient safety while they secure a patient’s identity and their medical records in a hygienic manner. Let’s examine both contact-dependent and touchless solutions for patient identification with regards to hygiene and infection control.

Infection control concerns about fingerprint and vein scanners

Fingerprint and vein recognition models for patient identification are currently used across the U.S. healthcare system. However, hygiene and infection control must be considered with these contact-dependent biometric scanners. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, numerous studies have determined that there is a risk of infection through commonly touched surfaces. Reports determined that this virus can survive from hours to days depending on the type of surface the particles land on. For fingerprint recognition, patients are required to touch a sensor that carries a level of surface contamination that is equivalent to door handles. 

Vein recognition, on the other hand, requires users to place their entire hand or finger on a plastic mold that helps with proper positioning over the biometric sensor. This increases the amount of contact-dependent surface area and overall risk. 

In addition, fingerprint and vein scanner surfaces need to be cleaned after each use to prevent the risk of infection transmission. This necessary precaution introduces an additional cost and resources burden for healthcare providers while preventing employees from focusing on more important tasks. 

Facial and iris recognition modalities for patient identification

Touchless patient identification systems such as facial or iris recognition, on the other hand, completely eliminate the risk of spreading infection by allowing patients to be identified without needing to touch anything. Furthermore, according to a study, iris recognition has a far better success rate for identification compared to fingerprint recognition. 

enhance-patient-safety-and-improve-hygiene-in-healthcare-facility-with-rightpatient

Besides being more accurate, iris and facial recognition techniques will enable healthcare providers to identify their patients from a safe distance. By eliminating patient identification errors, hospitals can enhance patient safety while ensuring a hygienic environment, without even needing to constantly sanitize scanning devices or sensors. 

Enhance patient safety with RightPatient

Several studies suggest that touchless biometric identification is about to experience significant growth. Now that the difference between contact-dependent and touchless solutions is clear, choosing the right vendor will play an important role. Several leading hospitals have already experienced an improved revenue cycle by eliminating duplicate medical records and medical identity theft since using RightPatient – the leading touchless biometric patient identification platform. Some customers include Community Medical Centers, University Health Care System, and Terrebonne General Medical Center. 

Enhance Patient Safety - Are you using a touchless solution for patient identification?
Enhance Patient Safety - Are you using a touchless solution for patient identification?

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

Aspects of our lives that we have been taking for granted have been threatened by the COVID-19 outbreak. Our fears and concerns about spreading the virus have been elevated, and healthcare providers are taking any and all necessary steps to protect their patients and their staff members. Clearly understanding the risk factors associated with contact-dependent biometric patient identification devices and considering RightPatient’s touchless patient identification platform can be an effective way to reduce risk and enhance patient safety. 

ensure-revenue-integrity-RightPatient

5 Strategies to Ensure Revenue Integrity in Healthcare

Many healthcare providers were struggling financially before the pandemic. But now, the U.S healthcare industry is on the verge of financial disaster. According to the American Hospital Association, hospitals are bleeding approximately $50 billion per month due to canceled elective procedures and costs associated with treating COVID-19 patients. Many non-COVID patients have also stopped seeking primary care visits, including patients with life-threatening conditions, because they are worried about exposures. In addition, claim errors, denials, and payment delays that result from inaccurate patient identification, duplicate medical records, and medical identity theft still persist, all of which affects revenue integrity. 

ensure-revenue-integrity-RightPatient

Adopting Value-Based Reimbursement (VBR) models has shown to have economic advantages but poses a real challenge for healthcare providers alongside ever-changing healthcare compliance regulations. Siloed workflows, data proliferation, and disparate systems make it difficult to achieve the collaboration that is needed for VBR to yield optimal results. However, intelligent revenue cycle management can be the key to achieving financial stability and revenue integrity. 

Identify the problem

Today’s environment requires automating workflows and considering the whole revenue cycle process to ensure revenue integrity. Healthcare providers want an easy, seamless way to manage revenue cycle without errors, such as those caused by patient identification issues. Considering the lack of electronic medical record (EMR) system capabilities to adequately address the critical need for accurate patient identification, it is vital to leverage complementary technologies with core-specific competencies that can improve the overall revenue cycle. For example, improving patient identification and matching processes at the front-end of the revenue cycle process can significantly reduce costs. 

As an industry-leader in touchless patient authentication, RightPatient has been helping many healthcare organizations reduce claim errors and denied claims by ensuring accurate patient identification. By eliminating denied claims linked to identification errors, healthcare providers can reduce the burden of back-end activities in the revenue cycle and simplify the reimbursement process to ensure revenue integrity.

Rely on technology

Adopting technology is also essential to ensure that clinical teams across the healthcare ecosystem are accessing high quality shared data to produce the best outcomes. Augmenting the organization’s core systems with complementary technologies on a single, integrated platform enhances internal collaboration with other teams or departments. For instance, RightPatient crosses departmental silos and brings transparency to patient healthcare data across disparate domains. Transparency across teams is critical. RightPatient will ensure that a holistic and accurate medical record of each patient can be accessed by clinical and operational staff members no matter where the patient is authenticated. By automating the patient identification and authentication process, RightPatient improves clinical outcomes and enables staff to proactively focus on other areas where their expertise has the most impact.

ensure-revenue-integrity-and-clinical-efficiency-with-rightpatient

Ensure compliance

According to the National Association of Healthcare Revenue Integrity (NAHRI), the goal of revenue integrity is to prevent issues that lead to revenue leakage or compliance risks through effective, efficient, and internal controls across the care continuum, supported by strong documentation and sound financial practices that can withstand audits at any time. 

Violation of healthcare compliance is a major contributing factor to financial losses. For instance, HIPAA violations are becoming more common across the U.S healthcare system. HIPAA compliance software, on the other hand, can help address this issue. Such software allows healthcare providers to simplify their compliance efforts and manage training through an effective communication system. Ensuring HIPAA compliance prevents privacy issues that can impact proper revenue cycle management and helps to avoid costly financial losses.

Accurate documentation and coding

Unfortunately, as long as healthcare providers do not address the issue of front-end data validation, claim denials will continue to wreak havoc. Inaccurate patient identification and medical identity theft still remain a major contributing factor to denied claims and payment delays. However, through accurate patient identification, RightPatient enables healthcare providers to bill and code each patients’ information accurately. By ensuring accurate and clinical documentation, this platform significantly reduces inefficiencies of denials and rework, thereby strengthening revenue integrity. 

Improve hygiene and foster patient trust with RightPatient

Healthcare providers are witnessing a reduction in non-infected patient activity due to the fear of COVID-19. Visits for general check-ups or other routine procedures have decreased to the obvious financial detriment of healthcare providers. These providers need to reassure their patients that they are taking all precautionary steps to maintain hygiene and control this contagious disease. Adopting RightPatient is a sensible part of this strategy. 

RightPatient is a completely touchless biometric patient identification platform that can accurately identify patients throughout the continuum of care. After capturing a photo from a smartphone, tablet, or webcam, RightPatient instantly identifies patients and retrieves their correct medical record. By securing unauthorized access to medical records, hospitals are able to prevent medical identity theft, reduce denied claims, and duplicate records – all of which are vital to a high-performing revenue cycle. 

5 Strategies to Ensure Revenue Integrity in Healthcare
5 Strategies to Ensure Revenue Integrity in Healthcare

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

RightPatient also offers remote patient authentication, which is becoming increasingly necessary as people are maintaining social distance by staying at home and getting treatment through telehealth practices. During this process, RightPatient validates patient identities by comparing their ID (e.g. driver’s license) and selfie photos. This process can also help healthcare providers to save money on more expensive identity proofing solutions through credit agencies. 

As patient care becomes more complex, so does the management of the revenue cycle. RightPatient can help to simplify and manage the complexity by ensuring safe, ubiquitous patient authentication from various patient encounter points. Full financial recovery from this pandemic may take years, but adopting RightPatient will ensure that you are on a faster path to success.

correct-patient-identification-RightPatient

Correct Patient Identification is Crucial for Vaccine Administration

With over 1.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States as of 22nd May 2020 and surrounding talks about reopening society, it remains a firm fact that without widespread contact tracing and safe vaccine administration, there is no getting back to the life we once knew as normal. Nevertheless, there is one major and longstanding hurdle to overcome for achieving either of both widespread contact tracing or safe vaccine administration goals, and that is correct patient identification.

correct-patient-identification-with-RightPatient

The importance of correct patient identification

The Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-profit, non-governmental organization along with several other organizations have been looking for ways to improve patient matching through correct patient identification. Most importantly, they have stressed the fact that biometric technology is the key, including in a recent HIMSS20 Digital Presentation

PEW has again stressed that Congress should act to improve patient identification and patient matching. They sent a letter this week to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel, R-Kentucky, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York. According to the letter, thorough contact tracing in the short-term and nationwide vaccination administration in the long-term relies on having accurate patient demographic data, but the current flaws with correct patient identification and matching of patient records hinder the nation’s ability to achieve either of those goals.

Drawbacks of patient identification errors

Ben Moscovitch, Project Director for Health Information Technology at the Pew Charitable Trusts says “Matching is a problem today”. He says, according to research, half of the patient records may not match when transferred from one healthcare facility to another, thereby imposing unnecessary risk and potential harm to the patient. 

eliminate-drawbacks-of-patient-identification-errors-with-RightPatient

Not having a correct patient identification technique in hospitals can cause discrepancies in data when hospitals try to match an individual’s record, and it may lead to the creation of another electronic health record (EHR) for the same patient (this is commonly known as creating a duplicate medical record in the system). Duplicate medical records drive up costs. Research has shown that duplicate medical records can cost hospitals $96 to fix each record, adding up to $1,000 to remove the data of two patients whose records have been merged together.

Key factors that can hinder the immunization process

A variety of factors can affect correct patient identification. When common identifiers such as name, DOB, and address are used, a simple typo or variation in how these identifiers are recorded during registration can lead to poor match rates. 

Another major problem with patient matching is the fact that many people have similar names, including the same date of birth. In a nation where nearly 48,000 people are named John Smith, correct patient identification is absolutely critical for an effective widespread vaccination program.

An effective large-scale nationwide vaccination program and immunization registry would depend on reliable and robust patient data, and successful administration of this program hinges on the ability of healthcare providers to locate the right patient record. Biometric technology has consistently proven effective in matching patient records through correct patient identification.

Why should you use biometric technology in a post-coronavirus society?

Contactless biometric technology is a hygienic way to ensure correct patient identification, limiting infection control risk during the identification process. As a pioneer in touchless biometric patient identification, the RightPatient platform offers iris and facial recognition for correct patient identification to ensure that patients can be identified without having to touch a common biometric device. 

Correct Patient Identification is Crucial for Vaccine Administration
Correct Patient Identification is Crucial for Vaccine Administration

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

RightPatient uses the biometric characteristics of a patient to prevent medical identity theft and duplicate medical records. Through the platform, patient identities can be validated remotely through their own personal devices (e.g. smartphones, tablets, and PCs) after they schedule appointments. During in-person or telehealth visits, patients can be subsequently authenticated by simply capturing their photo. The solution significantly increases patient matching rates. 

Needless to say, contactless biometric technology for correct patient identification is the key to an effective nationwide vaccination program. Errors from common patient names, lack of demographic data standards, and human mistakes can be avoided with RightPaitent to strengthen the integrity of data related to vaccinations and COVID diagnoses. This will help to reduce costs and improve patient safety. 

Use-RightPatient-to-prevent-duplicate-records

Importance of patient identification and EHRs – What you need to know

When it was at its introductory stage, the official representatives had stated that medical records going digital and becoming electronic health records (EHRs) would change the healthcare system of the US entirely. They said that EHRs would be the future of the healthcare industry as they will be safe, inexpensive, and easy to use, with a focus on the importance of patient identification. They were leaving conventional paper records in the dust. They were right –  partially. EHRs did change the healthcare industry as we know it, it did prove to be the future, and it did make paper records obsolete, only not in the way everyone thought it would. Almost a decade later, issues like human errors have caused problems within EHRs – for patients, health systems, insurance providers, and everyone else involved with it. Moreover, the biggest challenge it caused is patient misidentification, which is a multibillion-dollar burning issue, and presently, everyone is clamoring for a viable solution for the errors caused by EHRs.

Use-RightPatient-to-prevent-duplicate-records

These are some findings by a study which highlights some of the biggest problems of patient misidentifications via EHRs. 

Patient safety

The most obvious and most dangerous problem caused by EHRs is reducing patient safety – EHRs, since their introduction they have created several issues which compromise patient safety. Innumerous incidents have been reported including as wrong treatment, wrong surgeries, even deaths and many more, all of which lead back to software issues, errors, bugs or flaws of EHRs and how it misidentifies patients. We have read many stories of how EHR misidentifications have led to surgeries of wrong patients, or how they have caused financial losses for patients, or, in unfortunate cases, deaths. It has been years that EHRs have become standardized, but there are no efforts to fix these problems within the EHRs to improve patient safety. The importance of patient identification has been underestimated which is why these problems occurred. 

Medical identity theft 

The next issue caused by patient misidentifications is fraudulent activities. EHRs can be tricked since no unique patient identifier exists in the US, which can verify the authenticity of the patient. This fact is commonly known, and due to this, many miscreants can attempt to fool the system and officials and commit medical identity theft, healthcare fraud and many other unlawful activities with the patient ID and get away with it. Such incidents cause financial losses for the patients whose IDs are stolen, and it can also be used for more nefarious purposes like obtaining unprescribed drugs to consume or sell them, and events like these have caused the opioid crisis.

Importance of patient identification and EHRs - What you need to know
Importance of patient identification and EHRs - What you need to know

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

Interoperability issues

When EHRs were introduced, it was expected that given it will be completely digital, there will be some form of seamless integration of the data which can be accessed by a patient’s different healthcare providers. However, fast forward a decade, and the reality is entirely the opposite. Forget about obtaining the same data around the nation. Research has shown that even after using the same EHR system, two different healthcare systems cannot also match a patient correctly, as the match rates are as low as 50%. Thus, information exchange is next to impossible with EHRs, which is why there are so many interoperability seminars being held nowadays.

Physician burnouts

Many doctors have reported dissatisfaction with EHRs, as they spend almost half their day clicking on the system and inputting data to match the patients instead of interacting with the patients themselves. This is problematic not only for the physicians but for the patients too, as more time is spent on EHRs rather than patients. Even then, patients sometimes cannot be accurately matched with their health records.

How to fix these errors?

EHRs’ biggest problem is patient misidentification, and that itself causes all of the above issues. Everyone in the US healthcare learned the importance of patient identification the hard way. However, for the past few years, many have tried to come up with innovative solutions to combat patient matching errors, but the best one is RightPatient – a biometric patient identification solution. It uses the iris scanning modality to ensure a safe, hygienic, and convenient way to detect the patients accurately. Since there is no necessity for physical contact, a look at the camera is enough for identification, and patients find this extremely convenient and easy to use. Once a hospital registers a patient with their proper EHR via RightPatient, he/she can be identified by their biometrics only, which improves patient safety and provides an exceptional patient experience, as per the reports of the hundreds of health systems who are currently using RightPatient to eliminate patient matching errors and saving millions in the process.

Patient-safety-issues-can-be-prevented-with-accurate-patient-identification

Patient safety issues occur due to misidentifications

When electronic health records (EHRs) were introduced, people lauded it as the next big thing in the technological landscape of the healthcare industry. There were many reasons – it was entirely digital as the name suggests, could be accessed quickly and whenever required, reduced paperwork, among many other reasons. However, once it was widely implemented, the reality was drastically different. Instead of solving these problems, EHRs added additional ones along the way – patient safety issues.

Patient-safety-issues-can-be-prevented-with-accurate-patient-identification

EHRs have created many problems for patients and healthcare providers alike. They have created risks which were unpredicted at the time of their implementation, which can potentially generate the chance to make grave errors in the treatment processes for patients, specifically if the treatment involves medicines. If this seems terrible, it gets even worse. These problems associated with EHRs are much more catastrophic for children and younger patients since their prescribed drugs are age-based. A study has found that EHRs do not take age into account; thus, it does not tackle the problems associated in a pediatric environment. Other than that, patient safety issues like matching errors are synonymous with EHRs. This is where biometric patient identification systems like RightPatient come into play.

The problems healthcare providers face while using EHRs lead to misidentifications mostly. Some of the challenges EHR users face are:

  • Problems associated with displaying patient information, or incomplete/corrupt patient data
  • Issues related to patient data entries which cause delays
  • Problems with EHRs regarding feedback or notifications
  • Disruption in the workflow if data needs to be shared 

So what are the actual problems associated with patient safety issues caused by EHRs? 

Restricted information results in wrong medications

EHRs usually provide the hospitals with blank data fields which the latter can fill in, if required, regarding making notes making it easier for colleagues. However, they do not know whether their colleagues have access to those specific fields, which can create many problems. For example, if a doctor had made a note within the EHR regarding the medical condition of a patient, say glucose level, the nurse who will administer the medication may not be able to view this note because her access is restricted, not taking into account the medical condition. Such problems lead to a lot of medical complications. Likewise, if required fields are not available to be viewed by everyone in the hospital, the staff may get confused between patients with common characteristics like name, address, etc., causing patient matching errors.

A patient is provided with excess or wrong medication due to an entry error

This is the primary cause of confusing units – between imperial units and metric units. Thus, as it is common in the US to use pounds, and if the weight is entered in pounds, but the EHR accepts only kilograms, this will hamper with the medication. Medications are sometimes dependant on the weight, especially in the cases of children, and they may, unfortunately, receive larger doses of medicine than required, which can be fatal. Other than that, if a patient is misidentified, then this will cause the patient to receive the wrong medication as well.

Patient safety issues occur due to misidentifications
Patient safety issues occur due to misidentifications

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

Missed doses of medications occur due to problematic information displays

EHRs can usually list all the medicines that have been scheduled for patients, along with time and dosage required. However, sometimes due to patient matching errors, they may end up with the medicines planned for some other patient, and this can be fatal for both the patients involved if someone is not cautious enough while administering the medications.

Duplicate patient IDs are created

By far, one of the most significant flaws of EHRs is consistent to this very day. News regarding patient matching errors are very common, and at least one person you know has faced it. How does it happen? Very simply – once a patient comes in and a hospital representative does not find the individual’s record in the EHR, the employee tries to save time by creating a new ID instead of searching more in-depth for the correct record. The staff thinks that this is the way to save time and effort but generates another source for losses by the employer. Sometimes even the patients are to be blamed – if they are not attentive enough while verification, the hospital staff may pick the wrong record for them. Its effects can range from being financial losses to even life-threatening. Due to this single issue, everyone involved with healthcare has suffered – patients, healthcare providers, insurance companies, and so on. Healthcare companies are now clamoring for a unique patient ID solution to eliminate these errors. 

Medical ID thefts take place

Another consequence of patient safety issues via EHRs – fraudulent activities. Addicts and professional thieves can very easily misuse others’ IDs and gain access to healthcare benefits or drugs which are entitled to the actual patients, resulting in financial losses incurred by the unfortunate patients. All this happens because there was no sure way to identify whether the medical record belonged to the perpetrator, until now.

What can be the solution to patient safety issues?

As seen from the problems, all of them point in one direction – patient matching errors. From all of this, patient identification error is seen as a disease in itself of the healthcare industry. Everyone involved is affected and suffers due to it in various ways and degrees. It is a multibillion-dollar problem in the US, where fixing a single entry costs from $1000-5000.

However, its days are numbered, it seems, as biometric patient identification systems like RightPatient are successfully eliminating it from the healthcare providers who use it. It uses iris scanning, which is easy and convenient for patients – all they need to do is look into the camera, and they are identified accurately. Another benefit of this biometric modality is that it also correctly identifies the irises of the younger patients as irises are formed within ten months of birth and remain unchanged. Patients also love it because there is no chance of getting any contagious diseases as it does not require physical touch. Over a hundred healthcare providers are using it, and they are reiterating the same thing – patient experience has improved along with patient safety due to the reduction of errors and the speed of the process.

patient-misidentification-cases

Patient misidentification cases are persistent as no industry-wide solution exists

Synchronizing medical information with the appropriate patients accordingly – how hard can it be, right? Well, it is precisely the opposite. It is easier said than done – patient misidentification cases are abundant. Since the introduction of electronic health records (EHRs), people thought that it would make the lives of everyone involved easier, but the reverse has happened. EHRs are filled with issues like misspellings, incomplete data, common names, outdated addresses, and so on, which overall leads to duplication of records. One of the consequences of all of this, according to a reputed organization, is the match rates being an average of 80%, sometimes even lower. It doesn’t sound all that bad, but it is the result obtained from the same healthcare provider the records have been created in! 

patient-misidentification-cases

One out of every five patients is likely to suffer from patient identification errors and become one of the many patient misidentification cases in the US. This is not the only problem, however. Patient matching errors are like a web created by spiders – trapping all the parties who are connected to patient identification – patients, healthcare providers, physicians, insurance companies, and so on. 

Patient misidentification cases are also synonymous with rising costs as patient misidentification is famous for being a persistent multibillion-dollar problem in the healthcare industry. A patient matching error costs a hospital around $2000, and if we look at the bigger picture, there are $1.5 million of denied claims for a single hospital in a given year. That is an outrageous amount of money which is completely wasted due to these errors.

As per the definition, patient matching refers to obtaining the accurate medical record for a given patient whenever necessary, to make informed decisions regarding the health of the patient. Healthcare professionals are frustrated that this is not what they experience whenever they are matching the patients with their records and are clamoring for something which will change the industry and generate accurate patient identification – something RightPatient is very good at doing. 

Let’s explore more in-depth into why patient matching errors occur. Patient matching is also reliant on the hospital employees who come into contact with it – they need to fill in the gaps for the new data, or else they might need to update changes in data like a surname, address, etc. to ensure accuracy. However, errors, in this case, maybe made by either the patient, the staff, or both. A patient might not be attentive and may not check whether accurate data has been entered; likewise, an employee may not check with the patient to ensure he has put in the correct data or not. They might think that it is not a big deal, but there lies the problem. Such inconsistencies which they believe are inconsequential lead to increased waiting times, worse patient outcomes, financial losses, wrong treatments, and sometimes even result in deaths. 

Patient misidentification cases are persistent as no industry-wide solution exists
Patient misidentification cases are persistent as no industry-wide solution exists

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

A reputed individual in the industry stated that to combat these errors, a lot of countries have switched to unique IDs for patients. Sadly, the US is not doing that yet, as it has no nationwide standardized patient identifier nor any effective strategy to do so. Thus, the responsibility is pushed onto the shoulders of the healthcare providers, each coming up with their own approach for identifying patients. 

A lot of suggestions have been made by experts to solve these errors, like software for patient identification, improvements in data standards, and ID cards, among many other options. However, the only one which is being pursued by many and used by early adopters are biometric patient identification systems. RightPatient is the most appropriate choice to eliminate patient matching errors. It uses iris scanning to ensure that the correct patient is identified, and it does so with ease, as reported by over a hundred healthcare providers who are using it. As it is using iris scanning, it is also hygienic and safe, as it requires no physical contact, and is convenient for the patients, as all they need to do is look into the scanner to match with their records. Since it is also less time consuming than traditional patient matching, it is lauded by many for improving the patient experience as well as patient safety. Patient matching has never been easier and more accurate, according to the users of RightPatient

RightPatient-successfully-prevents-patient-identification-errors

Patient identification error causes yet another grave mistake

Another day, another mistaken patient identification error. However, it was a bit different in this case. Two sisters were informed that their brother was on life support and that is the premise of the whole fiasco.

RightPatient-successfully-prevents-patient-identification-errors

The sisters, Rosie Brooks, and Brenda Bennett-Johnson received a call from an official that someone they believed to be their brother Alfonso was breathing with the help of a ventilator at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center of Chicago. However, the sisters stated that they didn’t talk much to their brother. The call started with someone enquiring about relatives of Alfonso, and Brooks replied that she was the sister, and then the official broke the news – that he was fighting for his life in the ICU, explaining that he was beaten quite severely, especially the face.

The Chicago police had found the man beaten to a pulp, and according to reports had neither clothes nor any means of identification on his body. A police spokesperson said that witnesses of the incident identified the injured man as one Elijah Bennett. Later on, he was rushed to the hospital and was on life support. 

During his time in the hospital, as nobody came looking for him, the hospital staff had to take the help of the police in identifying him. The spokesperson said that their database had no “Elijah Bennett,” however, they did find “Alfonso Bennett.” The police later on handed over a picture so that the hospital could help identify any family members of the unfortunate patient. All these events led to the call to Brooks, yet another patient identification error. 

Patient identification error causes yet another grave mistake
Patient identification error causes yet another grave mistake

#1 Biometric Patient ID Platform

Superior flexibility, power & ROI

When the sisters rushed to the hospital, they failed to identify the man as their brother Alfonso. However, CPD kept saying that it was their brother. According to the nurse, police used the help of mugshots to identify him, but due to budgetary issues, a proper ID could not be made. 

However, the patient’s situation was worsening, and the sisters faced a challenging situation – whether or not to remove his life support. With immeasurable sadness, they had to sign papers stating that this man was their brother and to remove his life support, and as expected, the man passed away, unfortunately.

After this series of events, the story did not end. After the untimely death of the “brother,” the sisters started making preparations for his funeral, to give him a proper sendoff. Before they could carry out the planning, however, what happened next was a scene out of a dramatic movie – the brother, Alfonso, walked right through the front door of the house of the one sister! She shouted over the phone to her other sister, exclaiming that the brother they had thought was dead is very much alive and healthy and that it almost gave her a heart attack. 

However, this newfound relief and happiness quickly turned into sadness, regret, and remorse – they realized that they had given the green light to end the life of a stranger, thinking it was their brother. They shared how they felt with the media and that they were extremely remorseful about deciding everything about someone unknown. However, the police, later on, identified the person with the help of fingerprints and started looking for his family. Everyone involved was deeply disturbed by this incident and thinking that there are no procedures or strategies to ensure such cases do not happen again in the future. However, this is not an isolated incident, as a very similar situation occurred in 2018. 

Many people are worried that as these incidents are recurring, there is no way to avoid this. They are wrong. RightPatient would have helped the situation in reducing such errors. It is a biometric patient identification system which, and with the help of iris scanning modality, it reduces not only any kind of patient identification error but is also safe, convenient, and quick. Since no physical contact is required, all it needs is a glance from the patient for registration and matching – thus being hygienic and easy to use for both patients and physicians. All these features help to enhance patient safety as well as improve the patient experience, reducing claims by 35% and saving a lot of costs of healthcare systems in the process.