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Improving Patient Outcomes Has to Be the Main Concern since In-Person Visits Are Back

Luckily, it looks like the COVID-19 pandemic may be ending at last. Whilst COVID-19 cases 19 are still occurring, the overall rate has slowed down, thanks to over 326 million Americans getting vaccinated. As restrictions that used to be in place since the beginning of the pandemic start to ease in most states, businesses are gradually opening back up. However, healthcare, which did not close is finally receiving great news – in-person appointments, as well as margins, are going up gradually. Rising patient appointments are not sufficient for caregivers – guaranteeing quality and safety in healthcare facilities is also necessary for improving patient outcomes. 

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Having said that, let’s look closer at the present condition concerning patient volumes as well as margins, some statistics regarding them, and the reason hospitals must find solutions that can assist them in lowering significant costs, eliminating current issues, and surviving this difficult environment. 

Healthcare providers may, at last, be getting a break

After several months of financial losses, along with suffering caused by COVID-19, healthcare providers, finally are opening facilities for in-person visits. Whilst the reaction is sluggish, it is rising steadily regarding patient volumes along with margins, based on research by KaufmanHall – let’s look closer at a few of the stats.

These stats reveal that whilst patient volumes went up, particularly outpatient visits, providers are still ending up with extremely low margins. In May, the median hospital operating margin index was only 2.6 percent, and if you include the federal CARES funding, that was still only 3.5 percent. 

Nevertheless, the operating margin climbed 95.2 percent YTD (year-to-date) when compared to Jan to May 2021, and operating EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) margin improved close to double – 102.4 percent YTD in May, the latter is excluding the CARES aid. 

Conversely, when in comparison to pre-COVID-19 periods (Jan to May 2019), the operating margin was down to 20.5 percent YTD without CARES.

Therefore, what do all these numbers really show regarding healthcare providers? 

Actually, it is very simple – when health systems and hospitals were able to open up, and when the restrictions eased, that led to rises in their margins in comparison to the shutdown timeframes. Though the figures were lower in comparison to the pre-pandemic time due to patient numbers being quite high then, a few cases were nearer to pre-pandemic levels, said that same report.

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Based on these numbers, it is very clear healthcare is improving its numbers, yet hospitals and health systems can’t stop worrying too soon – they must work towards improving patient outcomes.

Providers must deliver their patients a safer atmosphere, carry out telehealth services for people who don’t want to do in-person appointments and decrease issues that may harm patient care. Overall, they must make sure they’re striving to improve healthcare outcomes.

Improving patient outcomes is necessary to mitigate losses

Even while COVID-19 was rampaging, there were a lot of times when it was obvious hospitals needed to work hard towards improving patient outcomes. Incorrect patient information led to repeated lab tests, inappropriate data sharing, sending results to incorrect patients, etc. Regrettably, that is not new, since healthcare providers have always faced these issues, with one of the dominant causes being the wrong identification of patients. 

Misidentifying patients impedes patient outcomes

It is very simple – whenever patients get misidentified, they’re assigned an incorrect EHR, and their treatment process is completely wrong from the start. Patients may get asked to do an unneeded or repetitive lab test, and then will most certainly receive incorrect treatment – all of this gets recorded in an incorrect EHR. This all causes detrimental healthcare outcomes, as well as hospital readmissions, plus in some cases, people even die. 

Healthcare providers were facing litigation costs already as well as loss of income because of such cases. However, the COVID-19 issue, along with these losses, might be sufficient to make them permanently close their doors. They simply can’t afford to make medical mistakes and jeopardize patient safety.

Luckily, they do not have to – RightPatient can help with that. 

RightPatient improves patient outcomes

RightPatient identifies patients correctly from the beginning, and because it is touchless, it offers a hygienic and safe experience for all. Our biometric patient ID platform is used by many reputed healthcare providers like Terrebonne General Medical Center as well as Grady Health, and it protects millions of patients from adverse effects. 

Due to COVID-19, hospitals have to do what they can to lower their losses. RightPatient can do this since it improves healthcare outcomes, as well as averts misidentification problems, and improves the facility’s bottom line.

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Patient Data Integrity During Virtual Visits Must be Ensured as Experts Debate About Telehealth

Let’s face it – telehealth has been a huge driving force that made treating non-critical patients possible during the pandemic. Once COVID-19 hit the U.S. in full force, every healthcare provider dropped their regular operations and scrambled to care for the overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients. Regular patients, however, were pushed towards remote visits, resulting in telehealth’s explosion in popularity. One of the best aspects of virtual visits was that patients received care right from their homes – one can even say that telehealth somewhat helped “flatten the curve”. While the major effects of the pandemic are fortunately behind us, many are questioning telehealth’s future now. That being said, let’s take a closer look at what experts think, why many are advocating for telehealth, and why ensuring patient data integrity during such visits is a must.

Ensuring-patient-data-integrity-with RightPatient

Telehealth is universally acclaimed

While countless brave frontline healthcare teams worked to save COVID-19 patients that went to hospitals in huge numbers, telehealth helped non-critical patients during the pandemic. As more people agreed to virtual visits, healthcare providers, patients, vendors, insurers, and everyone else involved realized telehealth’s potential and approved its usage.

In fact, telehealth has become so popular that as we return to the “old normal”, many healthcare providers, experts, consumer groups, advocates, and even state Medicaid officials are pushing Congress to keep its expansions in place so that even more people can access and benefit from using it. This is because all of these people believe that virtual visits can transform healthcare. For instance, many services that used to warrant in-person visits can now effectively be provided via video communication platforms, sometimes, even audio calls are enough!

But, like everything else, there are two sides of the coin, and telehealth is no exception. 

There are skeptics of telehealth – many worry about patient data integrity

While telehealth has been growing at a rapid pace since the pandemic, there have been skeptics concerned about it. However, telehealth is no stranger to adversaries.

Telehealth has been around for several years, and since its inception, it has had its fair share of detractors. Why else do you think it took so long for telehealth to be where it is today? 

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While it can be said that telehealth is “transforming” healthcare, there are skeptics worried about the “side effects” it might bring. Even among supporters, there’s concern regarding its usage, costs, medical identity theft that will cause patient data integrity issues, and inequality for low-income patients. In fact, many fear that it will become a tool that will simply increase costs without adding additional value. While there might be safeguards in place down the line to control costs, the fear of medical identity theft bleeding over to virtual visits is quite natural. It occurs with in-person visits, and without proper safeguards, fraudulent cases might become a part of virtual visits too, hampering patient data integrity – let’s see how it might happen.

Medical identity theft is a common concern regarding telehealth

During in-person visits, the lack of a positive patient identification system leads to fraudsters getting away. Fraudsters are usually armed with the information required to bypass the security measures – most of the time, these security measures are questions regarding the patient. If the fraudster has access to the patient’s information (many buy the information from the black market), it’s easy to know the right answers. As these caregivers cannot accurately identify patients, fraudsters get access to healthcare services, medical devices, etc., and if they opt for treatment, it hampers patient data integrity. The same can happen during virtual sessions too – as long as there’s no effective way to identify patients accurately, fraudsters cannot be stopped. 

Thankfully, RightPatient can prevent medical identity theft during telehealth visits and in-person visits. 

RightPatient protects patient data integrity

As a touchless patient identification platform, RightPatient is being used to protect millions of patient records across a variety of health systems and hospitals. Using patients’ photos, the platform validates whether the patient is real or a fraudster, preventing medical identity theft in real-time. 

RightPatient makes patient identification in hospitals and virtual visits accurate, prevents impostors, and reduces substantial costs down the line – try our platform now to see how it can boost the bottom line at your healthcare facility.

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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.

Ensuring-safety-in-healthcare-facilities-is-possible-with-RightPatient

Ensuring Safety in Healthcare Is Crucial as COVID-19 Cases Rise

What a year this has been! While it’s almost the end of the unforgettable year of 2020, the effects of COVID-19 will be felt for many years to come, unfortunately. 2020 will be globally remembered as one of the worst years in recent times due to the pandemic and how it kept pushing everyone to their limits. Arguably, it hit the US healthcare system the worst – just take a look at the mindboggling statistics. COVID-19 has infected more than 15 million Americans while claiming just over 288,000 lives. That’s not all – cases are increasing rapidly every day, with healthcare providers being overwhelmed by the surge of COVID-19 patients. With all that’s going on, safety in healthcare providers’ facilities as well as accommodating patients is more important than ever.

Ensuring-safety-in-healthcare-facilities-is-possible-with-RightPatient

Let’s take a look at some of the recent moves taken in response to the pandemic, how they can improve healthcare outcomes and prevent hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), and how an effective patient identity management platform can help.

Recent moves to tackle COVID-19 challenges

Patients are being redirected to other facilities due to capacity limitations

Lifespan Health System of Providence, Rhode Island, is redirecting COVID-19 patients to a field hospital located at Rhode Island Convention Center, as the former reached its capacity and has no beds to spare. While it still has its ICU and ventilators available, its regular beds are full due to COVID-19 patients. Moreover, the field hospital, with a capacity for 600 patients, is accepting non-critical patients as well.

A similar case had occurred in Arizona’s Holy Cross Hospital. Instead of admitting the patient at a neighboring facility, the ambulance crew took the patient to the Nogales International Airport before transferring him to a different location (Flagstaff) due to capacity constraints.

COVID-19 surge forces Mayo Clinic to temporarily close clinics

The Mayo Clinic Health System closed one of its clinics temporarily and will do the same with its four other clinics. The affected clinics are its Mankato-Northridge, Belle Plaine, Le Sueur, Janesville, and Waterville clinics. The health system is doing so to reallocate its resources and prioritize critical care due to the COVID-19 surge. However, patients may still visit its other sites or use the online services they provide, such as virtual sessions, nurse line, etc.

A pediatric acute care hospital will accept adult cases

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center will be accepting adults under 30, whenever possible, in order to help ease the pressure of COVID-19 on other hospitals. Many local healthcare providers that serve adult patients are almost nearing their capacities due to the overwhelming number of patients, which is why Cincinnati Children’s has made such a welcome decision.

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The existing practices aren’t enough to ensure safety in healthcare facilities

All of the healthcare providers have one priority right now – to ensure safety within their facilities. However, COVID-19 has been creating havoc in healthcare facilities for months now, leading to many of them shutting down, health systems suspending some of its facilities temporarily, or resorting to cost-cutting measures.

While a few might be benefitting from such measures, healthcare as a whole is suffering. Hospitals need to seek out ways to enhance patient safety, reduce HAIs, reduce response times, and improve patient outcomes to ensure survival during and after COVID-19. Thankfully, RightPatient can help.

RightPatient enhances safety in healthcare facilities

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that is extremely beneficial for healthcare providers, especially during the pandemic. Since it is touchless, it doesn’t have any infection control liabilities associated with it, leading to reduced hospital-acquired infections and improving safety in healthcare for everyone involved. Moreover, it maintains patient data integrity by associating correct medical records with the appropriate patients every time – it locks the medical records of the patients with their photos. Also, it is versatile enough to be used at any touchpoint in a healthcare facility, making it ideal for telehealth sessions.

After scheduling appointments, patients receive an SMS or email for verifying their identities. Patients are required to provide a selfie and a photo of their driver’s license or any other form of identification. RightPatient automatically compares the photos for a match, remotely authenticating patients. Biometric credentials are provided to the new patients. This helps ensure that the accurate patient is identified right from appointment scheduling.

At healthcare facilities, patients only need to look at the camera – the platform compares the photos for a match and provides accurate medical records within seconds, making it the most hygienic and feasible choice for patient identification. 

RightPatient improves safety in healthcare facilities not only by identifying patients accurately and ensuring patient data protection but by also reducing HAIs, something that is paramount right now. 

Be a responsible healthcare provider and use RightPatient now to improve healthcare outcomes, enhance patient safety, and protect patients.

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

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

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Having said all that, let’s focus on: 

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

Patient misidentification is nothing new

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

Improving patient outcomes is difficult due to existing issues

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

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

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

Healthcare providers are urging for the UPI

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

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

Improving patient outcomes is possible with RightPatient 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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US COVID-19 cases keep breaking records

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

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

Some recent measures to mitigate COVID-19’s spread

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

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

Why is infection control in hospitals important?

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

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

Practices to ensure infection control in hospitals

Create an effective infection control policy

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

Washing hands thoroughly and regularly

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

Enforce PPE usage

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

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

Keeping surfaces clean

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

Using touchless solutions that ensure infection control

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

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Hospitals Must Ensure Improved Patient Outcomes as COVID-19 Cases Spike

The moment everyone’s been dreading is almost upon us – another wave of COVID-19. This was inevitable, as most experts had stated that there would be a significant surge during this year’s fall season. According to experts, almost half of the US – including Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Texas, Utah, and Washington – is facing rising cases. The CDC (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Director previously stated that the fall might well be one of the worst times the US healthcare system will face. That being said, as hospitals are steeling themselves for the upcoming surge, they need all the help they can get to ensure improved patient outcomes. Let’s explore the CDC’s most recent findings, what the future might hold, some problems faced by caregivers during the first wave, and how RightPatient can enhance patient safety and mitigate known issues.

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Some frightening statistics

According to the CDC, COVID-19 tests have been increasing across the US. As of now, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wyoming, Colorado, Minnesota, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Connecticut, and Iowa are the states experiencing the fastest spread of the novel virus, according to rt.live. Unfortunately, that’s not all – it’s just the beginning. 

On the 30th of October, the US hit a record high for daily COVID-19 cases with a staggering 99,155 cases. Moreover, the previous day had also held that record, as per The New York Times. 100,000 daily COVID-19 cases might soon become a reality. Public health officials also told The New York Times that positive rapid test results are being severely undercounted. To make things worse, it’s virtually impossible now to track the COVID-19 cases back to a single source.

With all that said, hospitals are preparing for the worst, and they need all the help they can get for improved patient outcomes – let’s take a look at what happened during the first wave.

Problems faced by healthcare providers

Tom Leary, HIMSS VP of Government Relations stated that incorrect patient data leads to a number of issues that hamper any public health response initiative. Delays in sharing COVID-19 test results, inaccurate information within patient records, and the lack of properly shared patient data were some consequences that could be traced back to an overlooked but critical problem of the US healthcare system: patient identification errors. Moreover, whenever a vaccine is created, its deployment will require immaculate patient identification in order to make it effective – which patients received the shot, which are still waiting for it, and what are the outcomes.

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Among other problems, patient misidentification was quite prevalent during the initial COVID-19 wave, and it’s natural to assume that it will happen again. Moreover, when COVID-19 spikes become overwhelming, regular patients will once again resort to using telehealth.

Thus, if caregivers want to ensure improved patient outcomes, they not only need to ensure positive patient identification but also ensure patient safety during both inpatient visits and remote sessions. Fortunately, as previously mentioned, that’s where RightPatient can help.

RightPatient ensures improved patient outcomes

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification solution that has been helping healthcare providers for years. It locks the medical records of the patients using their photos upon enrollment.

During appointment scheduling, patients receive an SMS or email requiring them to provide a personal photo as well as a photo of their driver’s license. RightPatient automatically matches the photos and verifies their identities remotely, ensuring accurate patient data right from the start for improved patient outcomes.

In healthcare facilities, patients only need to look at the camera – the platform matches the photo saved during enrollment with the live image. After verification, it provides the appropriate medical record within seconds – enhancing patient safety and ensuring infection prevention. 

RightPatient protects patient data integrity, prevents duplicate medical records, and enhances healthcare outcomes by identifying patients accurately across the care continuum. Be a responsible caregiver and protect patients now with RightPatient.

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

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

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What has been the situation since the pandemic hit?

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

Updates regarding outpatient visits

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

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

Outpatient visits vary

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

Ensure-patient-safety-across-the-care-continuum-with-RightPatient

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

How patient safety and communication are hampered

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

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

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

RightPatient enhances patient safety

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

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

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

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Patient Safety and Quality Healthcare Require Patient Identification During the Pandemic

Another day, another new initiative by healthcare leaders regarding patient identification. One might wonder that given the pandemic and its ongoing effects on healthcare, why is that a top priority right now? Well, that’s what the healthcare experts have been demanding as inaccurate patient data negatively impacts patient outcomes during this crisis. The U.S. healthcare system has been suffering due to the absence of a patient identifier for decades now – the ban is still in effect on a UPI. Let’s look at what industry experts are saying and how positive patient identification can ensure patient safety and quality healthcare.

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The importance of patient identification according to experts

This isn’t the first time leaders have talked about the need for accurate patient identification and it won’t be the last time. Healthcare providers have been struggling with patient identification for decades now, leading to compromised patient safety, inaccurate patient data, and unwanted healthcare outcomes. Add the pandemic to the equation, and identifying patients accurately becomes more important than ever as accurate data sharing is a topmost priority.

Recently, a session organized by the ONC (Office of the National Coordinator) for Health IT brought up the topic. According to Tom Leary, HIMSS VP of Government Relations, incorrect patient data leads to adverse impacts on public health response initiatives. He further elaborated on that – patient identification errors during the ongoing crisis led to several issues like improper data sharing, delays in sharing test results, and inaccuracies within longitudinal patient records. According to Mr. Leary, some nurses even tried to Google patients to identify them and contact them regarding their test results!

Preparing for COVID-19 vaccines, whenever they’re created, will require accurate patient identification during large-scale immunizations to identify the infected ones, the ones who got the shots, and to identify the outcomes of the cases, stated Mr. Leary. Not having any proper patient identity verification system in place is just worsening the health outcomes and adding fuel to the ongoing fires during the pandemic. Thus, to ensure patient safety and quality healthcare, proper patient identification is an absolute must.

Patient safety and quality healthcare depend on identifying patients

As previously mentioned, many might think that with the pandemic still impacting healthcare significantly, patient misidentification is the last thing we need to worry about. However, Mr. Leary, as well as other healthcare industry experts, thinks otherwise. During the ONC session, they have already demonstrated how patient misidentification is affecting healthcare outcomes. But even before the pandemic, patient identification errors were notorious for adversely impacting patient safety and quality healthcare.

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Let’s go back to the time before the pandemic struck the U.S. Even then, the healthcare system had a plethora of issues, one of which was duplicate medical records and overlays. Imagine – a patient came to the hospital and they were assigned a duplicate record, based on which the whole treatment will be provided – so many things could go wrong!

An incomplete or inaccurate EHR leads to repeated lab tests, improper treatment, and even deaths due to a single misidentification. As a result, patient safety is severely impacted as well as healthcare outcomes. Patient misidentification cases are associated with unwanted incidents that can haunt caregivers – loss of goodwill and litigation costs are just some of the consequences.

Even before the pandemic, patient misidentification was a significant issue within the healthcare system. However, the COVID-19 crisis demonstrates how patient identification errors impact patient outcomes during a time when accurate patient information is of the essence. 

Experts are urging for the UPI once again

It’s been around two decades since the ban was imposed on a state-funded UPI (unique patient identifier), but industry experts are once again rallying to remove the ban this year. Even if the UPI is finally mandated, responsible healthcare providers will combine it with an effective patient identifier. Such a patient identification policy will encompass several benefits such as enhanced interoperability, reliable patient matching, and improved healthcare outcomes. So, out of all the different patient identification solutions out there, which one is the best match?

Patient safety and quality healthcare require RightPatient

RightPatient has been ensuring accurate patient identification for years now, but why is it the best solution? Well, it can be seamlessly integrated with EHRs to become part of the workflow, making it perfect to be used alongside the UPI, should the latter get approval. Moreover, RightPatient eliminates the biggest headache of providers currently – infection control issues, as it is a touchless solution. With its photo-based search engine for identifying patients during appointment scheduling and beyond, RightPatient is the most feasible choice for positive patient identification post-COVID-19.

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Lack of Proper Patient ID Leads to “Professional Patients”

Patient ID issues have always been prevalent in the U.S. healthcare system – we help solve these issues for healthcare providers. Today, however, we won’t talk about patient identification issues that exist in hospitals and healthcare systems – we will focus on the fact that the problem extends beyond the average provider. Unfortunately, many patients take advantage of the lack of a proper patient identity verification system and go repeatedly to their providers’ facilities and take advantage of healthcare services. Did you know that this happens within clinical trials as well? Let’s learn more.

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The importance of clinical trials

Clinical trials have a significant impact on conventional healthcare. They lead to breakthroughs that boost healthcare outcomes, reduce recovery times, and can even provide medicine to treat complex and previously untreatable diseases. When considering this topic, COVID-19 would likely pop up in most people’s minds. That’s what the whole world is fighting against currently, and the proposed vaccines developed by leading professionals are going through several clinical trials to determine the effectiveness of the vaccines and whether they have any undesirable side effects.

Thus, the importance of clinical trials is paramount for everyone involved. Likewise, the individuals who volunteer, known as clinical research patients, are essential as well. Let’s see what their motivations are to participate in these activities and what factors are at play that might put the entire trial at risk.

The lack of patient ID systems hurts clinical trials

Patients who participate in clinical trials are well compensated for volunteering. Many do it for altruistic reasons, and while compensation is based on the risks involved, the research is also vetted by an institutional review board. This is done to determine whether anybody enlisted solely for monetary benefits – many patients even enlist in multiple trials or sites. But why do they do so? How do they affect the integrity of the trials? How can an effective patient ID platform prevent this issue?

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Professional patients

There are some types of clinical trials where the financial benefits are quite lucrative for individuals who join more than one trial or participate at multiple sites simultaneously. Naturally, many do join these trials and expose themselves to either multiple doses of the same drug or single doses of multiple drugs undergoing testing. These types of patients cannot afford the money to pay for healthcare and thus sign up for multiple trials – they participate to gain access to both the treatment and the compensation. This is just one type of “professional patient” – let’s look at others.

The other type of professional patients falsify information regarding their medical condition – they don’t have the required condition but want to be a part of the trial. They can falsify information regarding the results and effects of the trial to show that they are participating – only to receive the compensation. As you can imagine, their participation in clinical trials may be extremely dangerous.

Another type of professional patient is individuals who actually have the required medical condition but they fake the results – they don’t want to be treated for the condition. These are quite common in trials involving research into treatment for addiction.

The consequences of professional patients

Getting exposed to multiple drugs that are still undergoing testing can lead to adverse effects for the patients. Other than patient safety, the reliability of the trials will be reduced due to integrity failure. Overall, the trials will experience significant losses due to the actions of a few. 

COVID-19 has already claimed over 965,000 lives while experts around the world are racing against time to come up with a cure so that we can finally go back to leading normal lives. If these professional patients participate in the clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine, the affected trials will be rendered useless due to the unreliable data these patients will provide. Even when a vaccine is developed it will lose credibility due to professional patients, delaying the most significant breakthrough we need. Is there any way to stop these harmful practices and ensure data integrity of clinical trials?

An accurate patient ID platform is the key

Professional patients are getting smarter about how to enter clinical trials now that information is available on social media. However, if there was an effective patient identification platform in place, it would be enough to prevent professional patients’ participation right from the start. That’s where we can help.

RightPatient is the leading touchless patient identification platform used by healthcare providers. They are using it to protect millions of patient records and prevent duplicates in their EHR systems by ensuring that patients are identified correctly across the care continuum.  

Since RightPatient has both the experience and expertise, it can easily prevent professional patients in clinical trials from fraudulent participation. This leads not only to enhanced safety of the participants within the trials but also makes the data immaculate and reliable – speeding up the trials and reducing losses along the way.