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Another Patient Mix-Up Leads to the Wrong Surgery – Are These Preventable?

We’ve seen and already covered many patient misidentification stories. These range from a mistaken patient identity that almost led to huge financial losses, wrong patient surgery cases that caused kidney transplant mix-ups, to a patient identification error that caused the wrong patient to be taken off of life support. Clearly, patient misidentification can cause serious to life-changing consequences for anyone involved. Unfortunately, today’s article is no different – the patient involved underwent a life-altering surgery only to find out that it was a case of a patient mix-up.

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That being said, let’s take a closer look at what exactly occurred, how patient mix-up cases can lead to drastic consequences, and how they demonstrate the importance of accurate patient identification.

A patient mix-up led to misdiagnosis and laparoscopic prostatectomy

There’s probably nothing worse than being told by your physician that you have a deadly disease, right? What about being told you actually don’t have the disease AFTER the life-changing surgery? 

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened with Eric Spang, 48, a man who lived happily with his family in Pennsylvania before he was misdiagnosed with prostate cancer. After learning the truth, Mr. Spang, quite naturally, became depressed and devastated both physically and emotionally.

Everything was going quite normally in Mr. Spang’s life until he received the results from a routine prostate screening. His physician informed him that he, unfortunately, had a common indicator of prostate cancer – elevated PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels. The later course of action was to get a biopsy to see if it indeed was cancerous or not – this is where the patient mix-up occurred and changed everything for both the patients and their families.

Mr. Spang got the biopsy result back – it was positive. The physicians recommended a laparoscopic prostatectomy – his entire prostate gland would be removed. After discussing it with his wife, Mr. Spang chose to go for the surgery, hoping that it would save his life and put an end to this nightmare.

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The bad news didn’t end here for the family, unfortunately. After the surgery, Mr. Spang and his wife found out that he didn’t have prostate cancer – the biopsy result belonged to an entirely different patient! While under different circumstances this might have been good news, it wasn’t for Mr. Spang – the irreparable damage had been done. Quite understandably, Mr. Spang was devastated.

Mr. Spang’s attorney, Aaron Friedwald, has filed a malpractice suit against Tower Health as well as the urology group. One of the reasons for this is because Mr. Spang wanted a second biopsy done to see if the results were consistent or not.  However, his urologist did not recommend it, whereas his physician said that his prostate looked good as other tests showed no worrying issues. Getting a second biopsy might have cost a bit more, but it would’ve saved Mr. Spang from the entirely unnecessary surgery and devastation.

Patient mix-ups are a huge cause for concern

Well, this misdiagnosis can be traced back to patient mix-ups – something caused by patient misidentification. Moreover, this is just one case, and as we mentioned in the beginning, we’ve covered cases like this in the past. However, these are the ones that are reported – what about those that go unnoticed and undetected? Imagine getting a kidney removed and finding out that it was entirely unnecessary or getting the kidney that was meant for another patient!

All of these mix-ups have drastic consequences for patients, their families, as well as healthcare providers. Patients’ and their family’s lives are irreversibly changed and they can file a malpractice suit against the healthcare providers and other parties involved. Not only do such cases attract unwanted attention to the hospitals but it also increases litigation costs, loss of goodwill, and might even cause patients to switch to other healthcare providers. 

However, these consequences are entirely avoidable with positive patient identification across the care continuum, and that’s what RightPatient does.

RightPatient prevents mix-ups across the care continuum

Leading healthcare providers such as Terrebonne General Medical Center, University Health Care System, and Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital are using RightPatient to identify patients accurately, prevent mix-ups, and protect patient records.

Patients are quite receptive to the touchless biometric patient identification platform. During hospital visits, RightPatient takes a photo of the patient and attaches it to the patient’s EHR after running a search to see if it already exists in any other EHR, preventing duplicates. Afterward, these patients only need to look at the camera – RightPatient runs a search and upon finding a match, provides the accurate medical record.

For remote patients, the patients are sent an SMS with a link to provide a selfie and a photo of their driver’s license or similar information – RightPatient compares the photos for a match and remotely authenticates patient identities. 

Doing so every time the patient visits, in-person or otherwise, ensures that the accurate information is being fed to the appropriate EHR – preventing transplant mix-ups, patient safety incidents, and even medical identity theft.

How are YOU preventing such disastrous cases at your healthcare facility?

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Electronic Medical Record Errors Are Preventable with Positive Patient Identification

We’ve been talking about several topics such as medical identity theft, duplicate medical records, COVID-19, revenue cycle management, data breaches, and more. However, the one point we keep coming back to is electronic medical record errors. This has been a cause of concern among healthcare providers and patients, but it doesn’t end there. The consequences of medical record errors extend to insurance providers, healthcare staff members, physicians, and even the patients’ family members!

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What many fail to grasp is that most of these errors are not caused by the EHR systems themselves, but are caused by external factors. One of the foremost reasons is that there’s no effective, standardized patient identifier present. This alone leads to medical record mix-ups, duplicates, and other errors – more on that later.

Let’s take a look at EHR error statistics, the consequences caused by them, and how positive patient identification can mitigate them.

Statistics regarding electronic medical record errors

A recent study focused on the frequency and types of EHR issues perceived by patients which shed light on a number of insightful statistics. Over 136,000 patients received the invitation to participate, and over 29,000 patients responded. 22,889 viewed 1 or more notes within one year. Out of these 22,889 patients, 21% (4,830) of them witnessed mistakes. Out of these 4,830 patients, 43% said that the mistakes were serious, 32.4% said that it was somewhat serious, and 9.9% said that it was very serious.

When asked about what kind of issues they saw within their EHRs, the most common response was diagnosis errors. For instance, many saw that a disease they didn’t have was listed in the EHR! Can you imagine the consequences of this? 

Others witnessed wrong medical history, medication errors, and so on.

Most of these issues, if not all of them, can be traced back to the lack of accurate patient identification – let’s see how. 

How patient misidentification creates electronic medical record errors

It’s quite simple – since there’s no effective and standardized patient identifier present in the U.S. healthcare system, EHR issues are bound to occur. An EHR system houses thousands and can even hold millions of medical records. It’s quite natural to have many patients with the same name, especially if it’s a common one.

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Now, if a patient named “James Smith” turns up, the EHR user will see that there are several medical records associated with the same name. Moreover, there’s no guarantee that the patient’s record is under the same name – it might be saved as “Jim Smith”.

Also, most EHRs provide basic search functionality, and with the registration area being a high-pressure environment, the EHR user needs to select the appropriate medical record quickly. If the hospital isn’t using an effective patient identifier, the registrar either creates an entirely new medical record or chooses the wrong one – creating the potential for medical record errors. 

While that’s how patient misidentification and electronic medical record errors are related, let’s take a look at some of the consequences.

Consequences of EHR errors and patient misidentification

EHR errors, bolstered by inaccurate patient identification:

  • Increase duplicates and overlays within the EHR system
  • Jeopardize patient safety
  • Hamper patient data integrity
  • Lead to patient record mix-ups
  • Create medication administration errors
  • Increase denied claims
  • Cause patients to go through repeated lab tests
  • Increase hospital readmissions
  • Create detrimental patient outcomes 

It’s not very surprising that patient identification errors have been occurring for a long time, and only a handful of healthcare providers have been proactive regarding preventing such issues within their facilities. These responsible healthcare providers have been using RightPatient to prevent such issues by ensuring accurate patient identification.

RightPatient ensures positive patient identification

RightPatient is the number one choice of leading healthcare providers – they’ve been using our touchless biometric patient identification platform to protect millions of patient records. 

RightPatient is easy to use and becomes a part of the EHR workflow. During registration, the platform requires patients to simply look at the camera – the platform takes a photo of the patient and essentially “locks” the EHR with it. Already registered patients then only need to look at the camera – RightPatient runs a search to match the live photo with the saved one – it’s that easy!

RightPatient has a vast amount of experience with several diverse hospitals, making it a clear choice to ensure accurate patient identification, prevent medical record errors, and more.

Are YOU preventing medical record errors successfully at your healthcare facility?

Patient-Verification-mitigates-hospital-losses

Patient Verification Helps Hospitals Deal with Decreasing Revenue as COVID-19 Cases Rise

Hospitals and health systems are constantly being challenged by the pandemic. Sure, COVID-19 has affected virtually every business – many organizations have declared bankruptcy while others have shuttered their doors. However, most, if not all of these organizations, had their employees work from home. Healthcare providers, on the other hand, had to face unprecedented challenges head-on, such as frontline healthcare teams risking their lives, losing billions of dollars, patient verification issues, data breaches, and more.

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Unfortunately, it looks like the battle with COVID-19 is far from over for healthcare providers. With the Delta variant once again wreaking havoc, caregivers are experiencing razor-thin margins. That being said, accurate patient verification CAN prevent many issues, helping hospitals survive this challenging period. Let’s take a look at a few stats that show how concerning the new variant is and how positive patient identification can help caregivers.

Some recent statistics that show a rise in margins and expenses 

While things were definitely getting better with millions being vaccinated across the U.S. and businesses slowly opening up, the Delta variant of COVID-19 has struck back with full force. While healthcare providers have been facing lower losses and improved margins when compared to the first half of 2020, a new report sheds light on many facts. While many indicators show that things are going in the right direction, some show that the effects of COVID-19 are far from over.

The “median operating margin index” in June was 2.8%, excluding funding from the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relied, and Economic Security) Act. When taking funding into account, it was 4.3%.

What do these numbers mean for hospitals and health systems? Well, it’s an increase of almost 90% (excluding CARES Act Funding) or 48.7% (including the funding) when compared to the first half of 2020. All of these numbers are based on 900 hospitals that have participated monthly for the last three years. 

When it comes to patient volumes, it’s a mixed bag. Patient volumes were higher when compared to 2020, but lower than they were before the pandemic. For those who want specifics, discharges between January and June of 2021 were 10.1% higher than in the first half of 2020, but when compared to the first half of 2019, patient volumes are down 4.4%. A similar trend can be seen for ER visits in hospitals, i.e. higher than in the first half of 2020 but lower than in the first half of 2019.

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Fortunately, the revenue of hospitals and health systems has increased compared to both 2020 and 2019! According to the same report mentioned above, this is because of outpatient visits. “Gross operating revenue,” excluding CARES Act funding for January to June of this year, was 18.2% higher than the same period of 2020 and 7.9% higher than the same period of 2019.

But all of these statistics look good for hospitals, right?

Well, while all of these do look good, expenses have also increased – affecting margins significantly. The first half of 2021 saw an 8.5% rise in expenses when compared to the first half of last year, and an increase of almost 10% when compared to the first half of 2019. 

While margins are increasing, expenses are increasing as well

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over – the Delta variant has reached the U.S. and has been in the news for the past few weeks. While healthcare providers have opened their doors to regular patients, COVID-19 cases are spiking once again, and this might be detrimental to hospital margins according to an official associated with the study mentioned above. 

Hospitals need to identify ways to reduce losses, improve patient safety, and avoid unwanted incidents that hurt the bottom line. But how can patient verification help?

How patient verification helps improve hospital margins

Accurate patient identification has been a topic of discussion for several years now, and identification errors have also given rise to a number of studies.

Accurate patient identification helps

  • Prevent medical record errors such as duplicate medical records and overlays
  • Prevent medical identity theft in real-time
  • Protect patient data integrity
  • Reduce denied claims by ensuring accurate, consistent information within medical records
  • Prevent medical errors that might lead to patient safety incidents
  • Avoid dangerous patient mix-ups, including transplant mix-ups
  • Ensure CMS compliance by sending out proper e-notifications to appropriate caregivers
  • Improve patient outcomes
  • Reduce hospital readmissions

All of the above, when considered together, can drastically reduce losses and improve a hospital’s margin. We know this because our leading patient identification platform has been helping several healthcare providers for years.

Patient verification made easy with RightPatient

A number of healthcare providers have chosen RightPatient to manage their patients’ medical records. In a post-pandemic world, RightPatient’s touchless patient ID platform makes the most sense, as it keeps everyone safe by preventing physical contact (when compared to other methods of identification). 

RightPatient reduces denied claims, improves patient safety, prevents duplicates and overlays, and prevents patient identity theft – boosting the bottom line of hospitals. 

How are YOU planning to reduce losses and improve margins at your healthcare facility?

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Misidentification of Patients Can Cause Deaths – How Are Hospitals Preventing Them?

Unfortunately, misidentification of patients is something that’s still a prominent issue in hospitals and health systems. In fact, just a few weeks ago, there was a patient who received the wrong kidney, which was just one example of the many wrong patient surgery cases. Fortunately, the patient survived but just imagine the implications if the patient didn’t live! Not everyone recovers from patient misidentification mishaps unscratched – some even lose their lives. 

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Although these cases are occurring more frequently, most healthcare providers are responding reactively rather than being proactive and preventing such cases entirely. That being said, let’s take a look at a couple of other patient mix-up cases and how RightPatient is ensuring identity management in healthcare facilities to avoid such cases.

Misidentification of patients – a few more cases

A patient got the wrong medications

This one is an old story but is worth mentioning since it shows the actual dangers of patient misidentification. A patient, Z, had gone in for cancer treatment and the patient mix-up occurred in a busy registration area, something that is quite typical in hospitals. The EHR user was quite new but followed the facility’s rules – she entered the patient’s name according to the driver’s license. Unfortunately, she clicked on the first EHR that appeared without checking the others or inspecting them to see if this was the patient’s medical record or not. She was oblivious to the fact that there can be other patients with the same exact name – something that is quite a common issue.

The patient was given a wristband with the wrong information. Later down the line, the EHR user asked the patient whether it was accurate or not – the patient responded positively. However, during a testimony down the line, the patient said that he wasn’t wearing any glasses to be able to verify it accurately and was actually depending on the hospital to ensure his safety. 

The patient was later sent to a busy area and the nurse asked whether his name was Z or not and also his birthdate – the most common (but unreliable) patient identifiers used. While the patient agreed, a mistake had already been made – as a result, the patient received chemotherapy for an entirely different patient whose name was also Z but had a different D.O.B.

During the same testimony, it was found out that this all happened because of miscommunication – the room was too loud so that the patient couldn’t hear properly, and he also said that the nurse had an accent that was difficult to understand. The nurse, on the other hand, said that the instructions were written as “day 1, day 8”, and she assumed that the patient came in on the scheduled day. All of these problems could’ve been avoided with positive patient identification using RightPatient – more on that later.

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Fortunately, while the patient received the wrong treatment, the side effects were few, although, it was classified as wrong medication administration, something that’s quite common when misidentification of patients occurs.

While patient Z was extremely lucky to have survived, not everyone does – just like the patient in the next case. 

The wrong patient was taken off of life support

This was quite a devastating case – the wrong patient was taken off life support

The patient, Samuel (pseudonym), was apparently admitted to St. Barnabas Hospital and was unconscious. Later down the line, it was detected that due to OD, he was left in a vegetative state and required life support. His sister was contacted, and after a few days, she made the very difficult decision to take her brother off of life support. 

Afterwards, it was identified that it wasn’t actually her brother but a different person entirely! Once again, this is a case of misidentification of patients. When the actual patient was admitted to the ER, the social security card identified him with his actual name (Samuel Richard Jackson). However, the hospital staff chose the medical record of Samuel Jackson, an entirely different patient. While the patient’s fate might have been uncertain, at least the proper family would’ve been notified if the accurate medical record was chosen. 

As can clearly be seen, patient identification errors have severe consequences for everyone involved. The patients receive the wrong medication and treatments, resulting in detrimental healthcare outcomes, hospital readmissions, or even deaths, whereas the healthcare providers face lawsuits, suffer from losses, and lose goodwill. All of this is entirely preventable by ensuring accurate patient identification.

RightPatient eliminates misidentification of patients

RightPatient has been protecting millions of patients in several healthcare facilities with its touchless biometric patient identification platform. During the registration process, it attaches a photo of the patient to their EHR, “locking” them essentially. Even if a patient with the same name or characteristics comes up, the registered patients’ records will be safe, since their faces don’t match. 

By identifying patients accurately right from appointment scheduling, check-in, and beyond, RightPatient eliminates chances of duplicate medical records, overlays, and patient mix-ups.

How are YOU preventing such mix-ups within your healthcare facility?

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Another One Added to Wrong Patient Surgery Cases – Is Patient Misidentification To Blame?

We’ve been talking about patient misidentification for quite a long time now, and for very good reasons. While many think that patient identification errors in hospitals are not that common or serious, but every now and then, a piece of news comes up that shows just how serious it can be. This time, a patient received a kidney that was actually meant for someone else – can you imagine? Without further ado, let’s dive deep into the unfortunate tale and see how wrong patient surgery cases can be prevented with positive patient identification. 

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A classic case of transplant mix-up

This unfortunate case of transplant mix-up is exactly what we warn healthcare professionals against – we’ve seen our fair share of wrong patient surgery cases.

It occurred in University Hospitals (UH) on the 2nd of July, and fortunately, the recipient survived, as the kidney was compatible with the patient. The patient is slowly recovering, according to a spokesperson, and the surgery of the actual patient who was supposed to get the kidney has been delayed. UH also notified UNOS (United Network for organ Sharing) about the transplant mix-up.

Moreover, UH isn’t divulging any more details about the situation as of now – they are analyzing the situation, investigating what caused the issue, and are working so that it never occurs again. However, the employees that were involved with the medical error are on administrative leave until the issue is figured out. 

However, while this might seem quite unusual, wrong patient surgery cases do occur every now and then – something which we can confidently say occurs because of patient mix-ups due to poor patient identification systems. 

Wrong patient surgery cases are uncommon, but not unheard of

Back in 2019, before the pandemic changed everything, wrong patient identification led to another transplant mix-up in Lourdes Hospital Transplant Center (which we’ve covered already). Coincidentally, it also was a case of a kidney transplant.

However, this was a much more transparent case as the patients had a similar name and age – something that we very well know leads to patient mix-ups, among other things. Fortunately, in that case, the patient who got the kidney survived as it was a perfect match. 

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This case was also reported to UNOS and the patient who was supposed to get the kidney had the transplant down the line. 

However, in UH’s case, the patient who’s supposed to get the transplant is still on the waiting list. As already mentioned, UH isn’t releasing any details about the mix-up – but we are too familiar with such cases. 

Wrong patient surgery cases occur due to poor patient identification

In Lourdes Hospital Transplant Center’s case, the patients had common names and were of similar age. This is a classic case of patient identification errors. Patient’s medical records are usually mixed up during registration, and if they have common characteristics, such devastating cases are generated. 

We believe that whatever occurred in UH was due to patient misidentification, or the lack of proper patient identification.

Medical record mix-ups, poor quality patient data, medication administration errors, wrong transplants, detrimental healthcare outcomes, mistreatments, and adverse incidents are just some of the consequences of poor patient identification, and can even claim patients’ lives. The patients involved in the two wrong patient surgery cases above are extremely lucky to be alive – not everyone makes it out alive. 

Such transplant mix-ups or patient mix-ups are deadly, but they ARE preventable – as long as the healthcare provider is ensuring accurate patient identification. We’re so concerned about such cases is because we help responsible hospitals and health systems prevent patient mix-ups with our industry-leading touchless biometric patient identification platform, RightPatient. 

RightPatient prevents patient mix-ups and patient safety incidents

RightPatient prevents patient identification errors right from the start. It takes patients’ photos during registration and locks the medical records with them. Whenever a patient comes up later on, the platform provides the accurate medical record after comparing the saved photo with the live one. This makes sure that patient mix-ups are eliminated, as it uses the one characteristic that cannot be mixed up – patients’ faces. 

RightPatient has a vast amount of experience with ensuring accurate patient identification in several hospitals and health systems, and we’re confident that it could’ve prevented such cases. 

Are you preventing such mix-ups at your healthcare facility effectively?

EHRs-need-accurate-patient-data-RightPatient

The Importance of EHRs Shows Why Medical Record Errors Must be Prevented

When caregivers are asked about the most important tool they have at their disposal to treat their patients, what answers are expected? Some would say their healthcare team, the cutting edge technology/procedures they have access to, the different solutions they have that improve healthcare outcomes, and so on. However, the most underrated and crucial tool is definitely the electronic health records or EHRs. Think of it – where would healthcare be without EHRs? EHRs ensure that the right information regarding the right patient is provided to the right medical team. However, this is applicable only as long as certain issues are prevented, especially medical record errors.

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That being said, let’s take a deeper dive into how EHRs are the most important tool for healthcare providers and why ensuring patient data integrity is a must. 

Healthcare is evolving but the starting point remains the same

Let’s go back to a time before the deadly pandemic. If someone went to a healthcare provider and told them that telehealth would become mainstream in the future, the provider would most likely say that they’re crazy! Look at the reality now – telehealth is still preferred by many, even while users are decreasing due to hospitals opening up. 

Healthcare has been evolving – rapidly in some areas and steadily in others. One certain thing is that healthcare isn’t limited to the four walls of hospitals and health systems anymore – one of the consequences of the pandemic. However, whether it’s in-person visits or virtual ones (telehealth/telemedicine), the foundation for providing care to patients remains the same – EHRs. 

EHRs are more important than most realize 

Patients, caregivers, and others are quite satisfied with telehealth now.

Patients on the younger side have stated that they would like to continue using telehealth even if the national health emergency is over. That’s probably because it’s more convenient, easier, and safer – all the patients need is an internet connection with a communication device. 

Caregivers have a bit more complex process to go through. 

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Caregivers who are providing telehealth services have to consider a lot of factors – the telehealth platform, the portal, the EHR system, identifying the right patient, rules and regulations, ensuring patient safety online, and more. Also, while providing virtual services to the patients, the physicians need to ensure that the necessary information is being fed to the EHRs of the patients accurately – just as they do during an in-person visit. 

The bottom line is that whether the healthcare provider is seeing the patient within their facility or online, the one thing that basically remains constant is the patient’s EHR. However, issues such as medical record errors can mess EHRs up, derailing healthcare outcomes among other things – let’s see how. 

Why it’s crucial to prevent medical record errors

One of the starting points of providing healthcare is the EHR. When the patient interacts with their healthcare provider, usually to schedule an appointment, one of the first things done by the caregiver is pulling up the patient’s EHR. It basically provides the entire medical history, recent lab test results, and other information required to treat the patient. Moreover, any new information captured by the caregiver will be added to the EHR. EHRs, by providing timely, relevant, comprehensive, and accurate information to the physicians, improve healthcare outcomes, optimize healthcare delivery, boost coordinated care, and reduce adverse events. 

Now, imagine if an inaccurate EHR is selected – the consequences can be devastating! 

Medical record errors such as duplicates and overlays lead to patient mix-ups. Patient A’s treatment will be based on patient B’s medical record, leading to detrimental healthcare outcomes, adverse effects, and worse. Patient data within the EHRs becomes unreliable as it is fragmented, erroneous, and inconsistent. 

However, all of this can be prevented with positive patient identification with RightPatient.

RightPatient prevents medical record errors – and more!

By identifying patients correctly right off the bat, RightPatient ensures that accurate, high-quality data is fed to the EHRs every time the patient checks in for a healthcare visit. Patients only need to look at the camera – the touchless biometric patient identification platform does the rest.

With RightPatient, responsible healthcare providers are not only ensuring patient data integrity, but they are also improving patient outcomes, preventing patient safety incidents, and providing optimal healthcare services to patients.

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Another Patient Misidentification Case Shows Why Hospitals Must Prevent It

Patient misidentification strikes again. It’s not surprising at this point, as patient misidentification cases have been occurring frequently in hospitals and health systems. There are a plethora of consequences attached to it, which is why patient safety goals quite frequently have “improving patient identification” listed as one of the top goals to address. That being said, let’s take a look at the patient identification error in detail and how these cases are preventable with a robust patient ID solution. 

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A recent occurrence of patient misidentification, but certainly not the last one

Fortunately, the problem was detected before it caused any patient harm. While the patient, Ronnie (pseudonym), was waiting for a virtual visit, she was trying to convince the medical assistant that she didn’t have the rare condition called hereditary nonspherocytic hemolytic anemia. Ronnie doesn’t know how it got added to her EHR, however, that was not her only concern regarding the matter. As she was trying to get this inaccurate information removed, she experienced a lengthy and tedious process. 

The assistant informed Ronnie that only the person who added the condition can remove it – EHRs are quite sensitive documents, and access to modify them is restricted to only a handful of people. However, the assistant provided the name of the doctor, and the surprise here is that Ronnie had never had any physician by that name. 

The assistant was adamant that Ronnie might have had some encounter she forgot about – for instance, it might have occurred in an ER visit. However, Ronnie never went to the ER and got diagnosed with such a rare condition. She backed up her statement by adding that if she actually had hereditary nonspherocytic hemolytic anemia, she would’ve been informed about it. The assistant just reiterated that the physician has added it. Most probably, this occurred because Ronnie’s EHR was mixed up with some other patient and it was a condition that belongs to another “Ronnie” – a classic case of medical record mix-up caused by wrong patient identification

Unfortunately, the tale doesn’t end here – there’s far more to it. 

Ronnie had to go to extreme lengths to address the problem. As the discussion with the medical assistant got her nowhere, the condition was still present in her EHR. When Ronnie explained it to her physician, the latter tried to remove it but couldn’t, and neither could Ronnie’s other physicians. After trying everything, Ronnie submitted a formal request to modify her EHR – something many patients need to do to resolve patient identification errors.

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We believe that Ronnie’s among the lucky ones – many such cases remain undetected until it’s too late, causing detrimental healthcare outcomes. 

EHRs are beneficial but are bogged down due to patient misidentification

EHRs have a host of benefits and have been helping physicians see everything in one place, improve patient outcomes, and more. However, since EHRs contain sensitive information, editing them to rectify the errors is quite cumbersome – just look at the case above! Moreover, since caregivers have to share with other physicians due to coordinated care, these errors are seen by everyone involved in the patient’s treatment. 

This is just one case, and fortunately, Ronnie was able to identify the issue. As previously mentioned, this might have occurred because of a medical record mix-up – we know, because we’ve heard about numerous cases from hospitals and health systems. Unfortunately, there are thousands of patient identification errors in hospitals that are undetected and cause a plethora of issues – both financial and physical. How do we know so much about patient misidentification? 

Because our touchless biometric patient identification platform, RightPatient, prevents it and helps healthcare providers identify their patients correctly at all times. 

RightPatient ensures accurate patient identification at all touchpoints

RightPatient could have very well prevented the error in this case study – we have prevented such cases in numerous hospitals and have even drastically reduced duplicate record creation. The patients only need to look at the camera – our platform does the rest. During registration, RightPatient takes a photo of the patient and attaches it to the EHR. Whenever the patient comes in, the platform takes another photo and matches it with the saved one – providing an accurate EHR every time. 

RightPatient has been protecting millions of patient records in several hospitals and health systems. It ensures accurate patient identification, prevents medical identity theft in real-time, prevents duplicates and overlays, and more – ensuring positive patient outcomes.

Don’t become a mistaken patient identification story and contact us now to see how we can help you boost your bottom line.

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Healthcare Revenue Cycle Management Optimization is Crucial as In-Person Visits Increase

Believe it or not, while COVID-19 was arguably one of the worst problems faced by the U.S. healthcare system, it was just ONE of many. That’s right, there are a plethora of issues that have been hampering healthcare for years, causing patient safety incidents, lost revenue, and more. Unfortunately, these losses went through the roof due to COVID-19 – they were estimated to be around $323 billion in 2020. While the pandemic is slowly waning, things are going in the right direction as providers are opening their doors for in-person visits. To recover from the pandemic’s financial losses, healthcare revenue cycle management optimization must be one of the topmost priorities for health systems – let’s take a closer look at why it’s important and some strategies that can help with revenue cycle optimization.

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Revenue cycle management in healthcare facilities

Healthcare revenue cycle management might be quite complex, as it contains many intricate processes, but it is simple enough to understand.

Revenue cycle management, in a nutshell, is used by hospitals and health systems to keep track of the “revenue” they receive by treating patients. It has many steps, but RCM starts from the first interaction with the patient, for instance, appointment scheduling, and continues until caregivers receive the final payment. 

If broken down, revenue cycle of healthcare facilities usually contains 7 components:

  • Preregistration
  • Registration
  • Charge capture
  • Claim submission
  • Remittance processing
  • Insurance followup
  • Patient collections

As this list shows, the revenue cycle starts from the first interaction with the patient and ends with receiving the full amount for providing healthcare services to the patient.

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While it might seem simple, healthcare revenue cycle management is quite complicated and difficult, especially when it comes to collecting claims from the payers (insurance providers). 

Why optimizing RCM has never been more crucial

While it was always important for healthcare providers to improve RCM within their facilities, doing so now might ensure their survival and get them through this trying time. COVID-19 has drastically affected healthcare providers, and while some received bailouts in billions, others had to close their doors permanently. The rest of them are simply struggling through the financial losses, but as in-person visits are increasing, things look brighter for the caregivers, as long as they are implementing strategies that optimize RCM right from the start. 

That being said, let’s take a look at some of the strategies that can be employed to optimize healthcare revenue cycle management.

Strategies that enhance healthcare revenue cycle management

Examine the entire RCM process to identify gaps

While the age-old saying is “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”, rapidly evolving environments beg to differ. How do you know that it’s working out fine for you? Unless your denied claims are reduced to virtually zero, there’s always room for improvement. 

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Analyze the entire RCM process to see if there are addressable gaps that require improvement – even the smallest ones matter. Talk to patients, survey your RCM team, take a look at the current numbers, and determine where you want the numbers to be. If issues are not found, then great – the problem might not lie in RCM, but if issues exist, work on them. RCM is evolving rapidly, and with the changes brought about by COVID-19, introducing technology in almost every aspect of the service to improve efficiency and collaboration has become the new normal. And speaking of collaboration, let’s move to the next point. 

Improve collaboration between your front-end and back-end RCM teams

The traditional practice is that the front-end and back-end teams work towards the same goals, but separately. However, if they work more collaboratively then the entire process will become seamless and it will help optimize RCM as information is never lost or misinterpreted – helping to receive payments much faster and in greater numbers, improving the bottom line. 

Using solutions that guarantee accurate patient information

When it comes to RCM, one of the biggest impediments to its optimization is denied or rejected claims – most of which can be traced back to billing and coding errors. On the front-end, if the patients are misidentified or if inaccurate medical records are used, then there are bound to be inconsistencies that are picked up by the payers. These errors lead not only to billing errors and denied claims, but can also be detrimental to positive patient outcomes – affecting the bottom line and the goodwill towards the hospital. As a result, ensuring patient data integrity and accurate patient identification is a must – both of which can be done with RightPatient.

RightPatient is a tried and tested biometric patient ID platform that safely and accurately identifies patients using their faces. The patient only needs to look at the camera – the platform does the rest, making it an entirely contactless process, something that is crucial in the post-pandemic world.

Not only does RightPatient make identification faster and accurate, but it also ensures that accurate information is fed to the registered patients’ EHRs every time they opt for healthcare visits, reducing billing and coding inconsistencies and denied claims in the process.

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Hospitals Might Lose $122B – Can a Robust Patient Identification System Help?

Healthcare providers in every nook and cranny of the world have had their hands full with COVID-19 dealing damage everywhere. The US was not left out as its healthcare system could not cope with the unexpected events that persisted when the virus hit hard. The loss incurred in 2020 was massive for healthcare providers and difficult decisions had to be made. Unfortunately, the year 2021 doesn’t look like much of an improvement. The Kauffman Hall report suggested that healthcare providers could end up losing as much as $122 billion in 2021 in the worst-case scenario. On the less pessimistic side, they will lose up to $53 billion, which is still a significant amount. That being said, we need to look in-depth at how the impact could be reduced significantly and how the administration of an effective patient identification system can reduce significant losses.

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Loss is inevitable for most healthcare providers in 2021

The major difference between 2020 and 2021 is that now people are getting treated with vaccines against the devastation that was the theme of the previous year. Most hospitals have opened up and there is a gradual decrease in the amount of COVID-19 cases. Hospitals will, however, have to settle for a loss of about 10%, which is still considered a pretty serious loss by experts.

Patient identification errors are still plaguing health systems and, even before the pandemic, there had been huge losses for caregivers. But not all of them were suffering from the losses.

NYU Langone Health, Baylor Scott & White Health, the Mayo Clinic, and some others are just some of the large hospitals that benefited from a bout of federal healthcare bailout grants. Baylor Scott & White, in particular, earned profits in 2020. Many others didn’t come off with such luck as they had to shut their doors permanently, lay off most of their workers, introduce pay cuts, and furlough employees. The losses have further extended into 2021 and it could persist into 2022. The focus must. however. be shifted to existing problems – ensuring positive patient identification is one of them.

How an effective patient identification system helps reduce losses

The major strategy which healthcare providers are using to mitigate losses is by cutting expenses. Reducing the workforce shouldn’t be a priority as they could focus on solving problems associated with patient safety problems, medical records mix-up, duplicate medical records, patient outcomes, denied claims, preventable medical errors – the list goes on. The cord that connects them all is patient identification errors. 

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Poor identification of patients will cause hospitals to administer wrong treatments that often result in patient safety incidents, harmful patient outcomes, readmissions, etc. There is a consequential ripple effect of patient misidentification on hospitals and patients alike. These effects can be too heavy and costly on either side. Preventable medical errors, denied claims, litigation costs, and fixing duplicate medical records can lead to massive losses for any healthcare provider. An effective patient identification system must be adopted by hospitals – RightPatient is the best fit for the task.

RightPatient is the leading patient identification system

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that solves the problems plaguing healthcare providers and patients nowadays. It is just what we all need in this post-pandemic era. It is easy to use and hygienic for both caregivers and patients due to its touchless nature. RightPatient can help to prevent losses in millions by preventing patient misidentification, medical identity theft, denied claims, duplicate medical errors, etc. It is a must-have for responsible healthcare providers to reduce losses and enhance positive patient outcomes.

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Proper Patient Identification Mitigates Hospital Losses in Several Ways

Patient safety can easily be achieved by making proper patient identification one of the basic requirements within hospitals. Misidentification of patients creates a host of problems for the care provider, the patients, the insurance companies, to say the least. Medical record mix-ups, preventable medical errors, wrong administration, patient safety issues, or death can be the result of patient misidentification. Repetitive cases of misidentification can spell doom particularly if it is concurrent post-pandemic, caregivers have their hands full to deal with huge losses as a result of coronavirus.

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Subsequently, we will look at the effects of patient misidentification on healthcare providers, the financial losses incurred, and how using RightPatient can be used for proper patient identity management to assist caregivers in overcoming issues that may arise as a consequence.

COVID-19 further compounds the financial loss on healthcare providers 

In 2020, it was thought that hospitals will lose $323 billion due to COVID-19. Things are much better now that we have seen a large portion of the United States’ population get vaccinated but the immense financial pressure on hospitals remains an impediment. About $122 billion is the estimated value of the total possible loss for hospitals and health systems following the lingering effects of the pandemic. Despite the immense efforts invested in vaccination, the losses haven’t abated in 2021 according to experts. The situation is dire and healthcare providers have to cut down on unnecessary costs in a meaningful way.

2020 was a dark year for healthcare providers

In the wake of last year’s events, caregivers had to develop new strategies to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic. They were forced to adopt cost-cutting strategies such as furloughing, temporarily closing down departments, closing hospitals, and laying off workers. These strategies aided some hospitals but it was pretty ineffective for others. The focus has to be on fixing existing problems that will ultimately minimize their losses. Proper patient identification is one of the most underrated and lingering problems that are being experienced in many hospitals and health systems. Next, we will be considering how we can reduce losses.

Ways how proper patient identification cuts losses

Accurate patient identification reduces denied claims

Denied claims often result from situations in which the person paying for a service observes discrepancies in the information sent by the caregiver compare to a patient’s actual data. Such claims are denied based on patient misidentification. 

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Possibly, the patient might have been misidentified right from the beginning. The case of patient misidentification does not necessarily mean that the patient was given another patient’s EHR, it could also be a case of duplicated medical details. If such occurs in the EHR system, and the fragmented data are used in treating the patient, the issues that may arise will be critical. Peradventure by a long shot, a miracle happens and no patient safety concern incident occurs, the claims will be flagged off by a statement of the insurance company that it was the wrong medical record. Medical record mixups may mean that a patient receives the wrong bills and these rarely pass through to approval.

It is, thus, important to properly identify a patient from the beginning. An adequately evaluated identification will mean that the same EHR will be used in developing appointment schedules as well as payment collection. It will also be useful in fighting denied claims. The necessary bills will be issued to the patients and the caregiver’s patient revenue cycles will be optimized and losses reduced drastically.

Accurate patient identification improves patient safety

Dangers to patient safety such as wrong treatments, readmissions, wrong surgeries, preventable medical errors depending on the situation can arise from a wrong EHR is used to administer treatment to patients. A patient with diabetes can get treated with a plan for a heart condition as a result of a patient record mix-up. Even the slightest patient safety incident can cost healthcare providers a lot of money, undesirable media attention, and others which can lead to penalties down the road.

Making sure that accurate patient identification often limits the chances of medical record mix-ups, drastically reduces the occurrence of otherwise preventable medical errors, and ensures improvement in healthcare outcomes by making the right patient get the right treatment plan. An averted problem of patient safety concerns saves the hospital a whole lot of trouble and financial implications.

RightPatient ensures proper patient identification

Efficient healthcare providers are finding great use for RightPatient in identifying their patients. Our touchless biometric patient identification platform is easy to use, and it is also ideal in a post-pandemic world as it limits the chances of infection control issues.

The platform has a proven track record of aiding healthcare providers to enhance patient safety, forestalling cases of patient medical record duplication, and diminishing denied claims. The bottom line is ultimately improved upon in the process. Are you ready to use a feasible solution like RightPatient to cut your losses?