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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?

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How to Protect Patient Data at Your Hospital

The U.S. healthcare system has never had a shortage of problems – it has always dealt with several issues simultaneously. The exorbitant prices, the lack of price transparency, medical identity theft cases, lack of patient identification in hospitals, preventable medical errors, and archaic laws are just some issues that plague healthcare. Healthcare data breaches have unfortunately been growing at an exponential rate. With no signs of them stopping anytime soon, it becomes crucial that healthcare providers, professionals, and everyone involved with patient information be vigilant regarding protecting the data. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at how to protect patient data within hospitals and health systems with 5 practices. 

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Why protecting patient data is becoming so important

Those who are familiar with the U.S. healthcare system know that data breaches are occurring left, right, and center. These data breaches have several grave consequences such as patient information being stolen, being sold in the black market, being used for medical identity theft, patient data integrity failure, litigation costs, loss of goodwill – the list just goes on. And all of this might occur simply because a healthcare staff member opened an external email without being wary of the possible risks. 

As a result, healthcare professionals and facilities need to be on guard at all times against such cyberattacks so that they don’t lead to data breaches, disruption of operations, or the most common endgame – medical identity theft.

With the “why” out of the way, let’s dive into the “how”, to be more precise, how to protect patient data.

How to protect patient data with 5 practices

Work on HIPAA compliance

HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, mandates that healthcare providers along with anyone else dealing with patient information protect patient information effectively at all times. It provides many rules and regulations that cover a lot of aspects, and if applicable organizations aren’t ensuring compliance, then they’ll be heavily penalized. 

However, working on HIPAA compliance just for the sake of avoiding penalties won’t help. HIPAA provides several guidelines on how to protect patient data at rest and during transmission. If these guidelines are taken as starting points, not only will HIPAA compliance be ensured, but patient data will also be protected – reducing chances of data breaches. There are even solutions such as HIPAA compliance software that can also aid in compliance – helping identify security gaps and reducing the administrative burden in the process.

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Improve user authentication practices

Patient data can be breached from anywhere, and with many healthcare staff working remotely, the risks are just increasing. Putting safeguards in place that enforce limited access to everyone that deals with patient information can slow down breaches. This way, even if the hacker has access to the employee’s account, they will only have restricted access to sensitive information.

Always encrypt sensitive information 

Encrypting sensitive information makes it useless for hackers – it makes the information unreadable by outsiders or unauthorized users. Enforce employees’ use of encryption whenever transmitting sensitive patient information.

Provide training on patient data security whenever required

Too many training sessions on patient information security can be ineffective and counterproductive, and too few can reduce its importance. Instead, find the sweet spot for your organization to provide training sessions regarding patient information security.

For instance, whenever there’s news about another data breach that can provide meaningful information, conducting a training session and disseminating the information to the employees can help – learning from others’ mistakes might just be the thing that will prevent a data breach. Also, regularly provide updates on how to handle external emails and requests – the safest bet is treating each email as a suspicious one.

Implement solutions that protect patient data

Several constraints prohibit healthcare providers from fully being protected against data breaches – cybersecurity budgets and hackers coming up with innovative ways to attack being the most common ones. However, while data breaches might seem inevitable for many, patient data can be protected, but how?

RightPatient is the answer.

It is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that prevents medical identity theft in real-time. By ensuring accurate patient identification, RightPatient successfully red-flags fraudsters during the registration process. This prevents fraudsters from tampering with the EHRs, ensuring patient data integrity, and protecting patient data in the process. 

How are you protecting patient data at your healthcare facility?

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4 Promising Health IT Practices That Improve Patient Outcomes

The pandemic, when it hit the U.S., spurred its healthcare providers to adapt to the rapidly changing landscape it forced on everyone. Hospitals and health systems had to search, come up with, and implement drastically different practices that many experts thought weren’t possible. Just look at telehealth – its future was quite uncertain. However, during the pandemic, both its popularity and usage skyrocketed as hospitals and health systems relied on it to provide care to non-critical patients without risking the latter’s safety. That’s just one example – there are similar promising health IT practices that are trending and set to grow in the future and improve patient outcomes in the process. Let’s take a detailed look at some of the more popular health IT practices that can improve quality and safety in healthcare facilities.

4 trending health IT practices that help improve patient outcomes

The increased role of IT teams

As the pandemic forced healthcare providers to switch from in-person visits to virtual ones, implement practices to aid remote work, and ensure that data management is accurate, it was the IT teams’ responsibility to ensure that everything went smoothly. Moreover, cybersecurity attacks were higher than ever since providers already had their hands full.

CIOs and their IT teams not only had their hands full during the pandemic but they also had added responsibilities and expanded roles to play. As COVID-19 cases are decreasing, healthcare providers are aiming for a different approach to providing better and safer healthcare services to improve patient outcomes in the process. As a result, CIOs and relevant IT personnel are in huge demand.

Talking about cybersecurity, let’s move on to the next point.

A much-needed focus on ramping up cybersecurity

As previously mentioned, hackers had upped their game last year. While many hackers had promised not to attack healthcare due to the unprecedented crisis, not all hackers shared the same sentiments. Unfortunately, many of them did attack while healthcare providers had their hands full with COVID-19 cases. This not only led to them stealing patient information and selling it to fraudsters on the dark web, but many incidents also disrupted healthcare operations. In fact, the IT systems of many hospitals were rendered unresponsive or slow as the information within the systems was locked and not available for use.

So, what did healthcare providers do to mitigate the issues? 

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Well, many of the hospitals saw what their contemporaries were going through and opted for better cybersecurity practices. While getting a new cybersecurity solution includes several impediments, hospitals opted for simpler solutions. For instance, many had cut off access to external emails whereas others focused on stricter screening of external emails. 

However, while data breaches seem inevitable and as most caregivers cannot upgrade their cybersecurity solutions due to various reasons, they CAN prevent the endgame of most data breaches – medical identity theft. For instance, RightPatient prevents medical identity theft in real-time by identifying fraudsters during the registration process. The patient identification platform can prevent fraudsters from accessing services even if the data is breached, reducing litigation costs. 

With cybersecurity attacks at an all-time high, it looks like healthcare providers are thankfully changing their approach and are working to rectify security gaps by providing better training to employees regarding cybersecurity practices, going for a proactive approach rather than a reactive one, and by hiring competent security professionals – helping enhance patient outcomes in the process. 

Expanded telehealth usage

Is the rapid growth of telehealth even surprising at this point? 

Before the pandemic, telehealth didn’t have a bright future. Apparently, it has been around for a long time, but experts were busy talking about its demerits, patients were wary of it, and there was a lack of consistent interest. As a result, telehealth was collecting dust, figuratively speaking. However, the pandemic changed everything – it showed how useful telehealth was. As regulations were relaxed around telehealth, it helped reach more patients and provide care to the non-critical ones, rapidly expanding its userbase.

Telehealth was one of the most trending health IT topics last year, and it still is reigning, as many actually prefer telehealth over in-person visits now and have said they will continue to use it even after the public health emergency is over.

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Many healthcare providers, as a result, are going for a hybrid approach. They are planning to offer both in-person and virtual care, providing the best of both worlds to their patients. Not only will this help increase patient satisfaction, but it will also speed up processes and keep the patient volume down during in-person visits, something that’s quite necessary as the pandemic is not over yet, helping improve patient outcomes.

Utilizing contactless solutions can improve patient outcomes

There’s always been growing interest in contactless solutions for any given industry, but the pandemic has pushed it to the forefront – virtually everyone knows the risks of physical contact now. Therefore, many are developing contactless solutions for healthcare facilities that can reduce hospital-acquired infections and improve patient safety. However, did you know that such a solution has been in use for several years in many hospitals and health systems?

RightPatient, our touchless biometric patient identification platform, has been serving several healthcare providers for years, and it only requires patients to look at the camera. The platform does the rest and provides the accurate EHR to the registrar – improving patient safety, preventing duplicates and overlays, and reducing medical errors in the process. As previously mentioned, it also helps prevent medical ID theft in real-time by red-flagging fraudsters during the registration process.

That was just an example of how a touchless solution has been transforming patient safety in several ways – there are more solutions on the way that can improve patient outcomes and boost the bottom lines in the process.

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The Importance of EHR Optimization and 3 Strategies for Improvement

EHRs and EMRs are used interchangeably and they more or less serve the same function. In a nutshell, EHRs are a crucial part of the U.S. healthcare system and contain virtually all the information physicians and caregivers need to know about the patients. EHRs are required to ensure that the patients are receiving proper treatment plans, healthcare services, and so on. However, using EHRs is not enough – understanding them properly and ensuring EHR optimization is crucial as well, and the latter is something that many care providers miss out on.

That being said, let’s take a look at the importance of optimizing EHRs, how it benefits caregivers, and some strategies that help with optimization. 

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Importance of EHR optimization

Before diving deep into its optimization, let’s do a quick overview of EHRs. 

EHRs are the commonly used abbreviation for electronic health records and may contain a vast amount of health information such as patient names, billing information, progress notes, vitals, medical histories, medications, and treatment plans, lab test results, and much, much more. It is obvious that EHRs are extremely important and have a huge part to play in healthcare outcomes, billing, treatment workflow, etc. As a result, EHR optimization becomes even more important if caregivers want improvements in healthcare outcomes, fewer errors in medical billing, and so on. 

Unfortunately, many caregivers don’t keep up with EHR optimization, which leads to piling up issues and errors, unintuitive interface(s), duplicate medical records, and overlays, which cause patient mix-ups. All of this leads to patient safety incidents, preventable medical errors, billing and coding errors, or denied claims – impacting the ROI.

Just implementing an EHR system is not enough – providing ample training, customizing it to the hospital’s needs, ensuring proper governance, and using innovative solutions to bolster EHRs are crucial components to make it work. 

That being said, let’s take a look at some strategies that help with EHR optimization and ensure higher ROI, better bottom lines, reduced clinician burnout, fewer medical errors, and improved patient outcomes.

Strategies that bolster EHR optimization

Keeping EHRs accurately updated 

Ensuring that EHRs are updated at all times and are free of errors is a must. There are many cases where EHRs aren’t maintained accurately, leading to duplicate medical records or overlays. Not only do these issues with EHRs lead to wrong patient identification, but they also lead to patient safety incidents, denied claims, and might even cause deaths. One way to prevent these issues is by identifying patients accurately at all touchpoints, maintaining patient data integrity in the process. 

Receiving and incorporating feedback

One crucial fact that is overlooked by most caregivers is that feedback can lead to a host of improvements and optimization. Being open to feedback, receiving it, and incorporating it from the actual EHR users can drastically improve EHR usability. Physicians, clinicians, and registrars, among others, are the ones who use EHRs, and caregivers who are open to feedback from them can significantly improve their EHR systems by implementing required changes that optimize the workflow. Unfortunately, only around 34% of physicians are asked for feedback regarding the matter.

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Using solutions that bolster EHR systems and seamlessly integrate with them

EHRs bring a host of benefits to their users, provided that they are used appropriately and with the right solutions. Even EHR systems require support but that’s due to external factors. For instance, the lack of positive patient identification is still felt across the U.S. healthcare system because there’s still no standardized effective national patient identifier present. If truth be told, there might not be one in the near future – the project has been pending for around twenty years! 

However, there are solutions that seamlessly integrate with EHR systems and become part of the EHR workflow, one of the leading ones is RightPatient. 

As a touchless patient identification platform, RightPatient has been helping leading healthcare providers by identifying patients accurately in a safe and hygienic manner. Within hospitals, registered patients only need to look at the camera, and once RightPatient finds a match, it provides the EHR user with the accurate medical record.

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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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The Advantages of Telehealth and Why Hospitals Must be Cautious With It

Telehealth has been around for a while now, even if it only came to prominence during the last year. A paper from the University of California, Davis suggests that telehealth started in the early 1960s. Authoritative websites run by major healthcare providers have been around for at least 20 years. The last year or so has seen remote solutions come into their own, with regular consultations held by video call, support groups for all kinds of ailments moving to online platforms, and routine telephone screening used to allocate patients to the appropriate staff member – exposing virtually everyone to the advantages of telehealth.

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Given the pandemic, people were told to shelter in place. The healthcare system had no spare capacity to deal with seeing patients face to face. Patients were told not to attend the hospital or their regular clinic. Elective surgeries were canceled and routine appointments became virtual, conducted first by telephone and then by video call. The stuff of science fiction suddenly hit the mainstream – slowly demonstrating the advantages of telehealth.

Medical staff members are dealing with ever more complicated cases, among other things. Anything which can simplify and streamline this necessary engagement has to be tried, at least. The pandemic allowed a trial that otherwise might have been seen as driving patients away.

Remote healthcare has been growing in the last few decades. From emails requesting medical records or consultant second opinions, to routine online forms to fill out for regular repeat prescriptions or book appointments, the ability to integrate technology in healthcare is clear. Many primary healthcare practitioners no longer accept requests for repeat prescriptions by telephone but instead require patients to fill in their details online. Imaging reports can be filed online and shared electronically with a patient’s care team, while telephone or video consultations can save a patient having to visit the clinic unless a physical exam is necessary. This may allow the patient to fit the call into a scheduled break at work or arrange for others to take care of dependents for a short time.

The advantages of telehealth everyone loves

Telehealth does not necessarily even need anything more than a cellphone connection. A video connection may be preferable in some cases, but most screening and initial consultations can be carried out over the phone. No costly and time-consuming travel for the patient, no risk of delays for the practitioner. In these times of social distancing, it is best to minimize in-person contact, and telehealth is ideal for this. Patients who have been advised to shelter in place can still receive advice, treatment, prescriptions, and counseling with no risk to themselves or their specialist.

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Telehealth also speeds up the sharing of information between healthcare teams. A report and images can be shared by email over a secure link far quicker than a physical package can be delivered. Sharing patient information online can expedite care, which in turn can improve patient outcomes, quality, and safety in healthcare.

Telehealth needs to be used with caution

While there are numerous advantages of telehealth, it still needs to be used with caution. Technology can be used to help healthcare, as long as it is used securely and correctly. No one wants a patient safety incident resulting from misdirected confidential information or an incorrect bill, after all. Telehealth is more than simply a way to help hospitals improve their finances. Facilities need to ensure they can demonstrate to patients and staff that telehealth is secure as well as slick. It can allow patients to access healthcare when they wouldn’t otherwise be able to, as it will put them in touch with a regular member of their team who is familiar with their case. This means a higher quality of care than if the patient was simply searching online for treatment options.

One option which is not mentioned so often is that telehealth visits can be billed faster. Good for the provider, not so great for the patient, who may also have to attend an in-person appointment for a physical examination after screening. Both the initial virtual consultation and the appointment on site are likely to be chargeable, even though initial screening has often previously been free. Some providers may decide to offer a package of mixed virtual and face-to-face appointments, but should always make this clear to the patient.

Telehealth is not for everyone

Telehealth is convenient for those who are busy and anyone who can get to grips with new software quickly. For patients who are not technologically aware, anyone who lives off the beaten track, in rural locations, or off-grid altogether, it is likely to be more of a challenge to access. Virtual consultations have their place, but in-person healthcare must remain for those who cannot or choose not to access it online.

Some patients will, after all, have reservations about virtual appointments due to concerns about data and personal security. A biometric touchless patient identification platform like RightPatient may help calm their worries. Because it is biometric rather than in-person or touchscreen activated, it can prevent medical identity theft during both telehealth or in-person visits.

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RightPatient Can Prevent Medical Mistakes, Patient Mix-ups, and More

While 2020 felt like a very long year for all the wrong reasons, it has been already two months into 2021, fortunately. However, COVID-19 is still having a significant effect, especially on the US healthcare system. One of the many issues that were present even during the COVID-19 waves was patient identification errors, and it demonstrated that healthcare providers need to upgrade their patient identification systems immediately. Patient record mix-ups, preventable medical mistakes, sending reports to the wrong patients, and not finding the patient records were just a few of the problems healthcare teams faced during the pandemic.

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However, there’s a more serious concern up ahead. As the vaccine starts to slowly but steadily reach the general public, potential vaccine mix-ups might occur as a result of patient misidentification. This will severely jeopardize vaccine rollouts and make them lose their efficacy.

While patient identification issues and their several consequences have been present for a long time, they can be prevented with an effective patient identification platform like RightPatient – let’s explore.

How RightPatient works to prevent medical mistakes

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that helps hospitals and health systems prevent patient identification errors and mix-ups. It attaches the patent’s photo and biometric data to the medical records during registration. During subsequent visits, patients are required only to look at the camera – the platform verifies their identities and provides the appropriate medical records.

One of the best parts is that RightPatient is contactless, making it feasible for a post-pandemic environment, as it prevents HAIs (hospital-acquired infections). Moreover, it can also be used at any touchpoint across the care continuum, making it ideal for telehealth sessions. 

That was a lot about how RightPatient works – let’s see the issues it prevents – and can prevent – for healthcare providers. 

The problems RightPatient addresses

RightPatient prevents duplicate medical records

Duplicate medical records have been creating mix-ups, preventable medical mistakes, and more, leading to detrimental patient outcomes, impacting patient safety, revenue cycle issues, and lower bottom lines. Since RightPatient can identify registered patients right from the start, it prevents the creation of additional duplicate medical records as well as medical errors – improving patient safety and healthcare outcomes.

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RightPatient eliminates preventable medical mistakes

One of the biggest issues patient identification errors create is medical errors. For instance, patient A will get medications that are actually required by patient B – a single mistake can be disastrous. Moreover, there have been cases where one patient received a transplant that was supposed to be received by an entirely different patient. However, since their names or demographic characteristics were similar, a mix-up occurred. Fortunately, RightPatient prevents such cases – ensuring quality and safety in healthcare facilities.

RightPatient prevents medical identity theft and protects patient data

One of the prominent reasons medical identity theft cases are successful is because there is no way to catch the fraudster. Conventional patient verification methods are not well-equipped to handle misidentifications, let alone detect fraudsters.

Fortunately, RightPatient can accurately identify patients using their photos; whenever the fraudster tries to pass themselves off as the patient (or victim), the platform red-flags them, preventing medical identity theft in real-time. This helps in a number of ways – patient information is protected from being corrupted, litigation costs are prevented by the healthcare provider and patient safety is ensured.

Can RightPatient prevent vaccine mix-ups?

While most of us among the general public wait for the vaccine rollouts, we have to remember that, at this point, to ensure maximum protection, we require two doses of the vaccine. However, imagine this – a hospital is housing vaccines from two different manufacturers. What if a patient receives the shot of Pfizer’s vaccine the first time and the second dose is from Moderna? 

Unfortunately, vaccine mix-ups are occurring as we speak, and it might significantly reduce the effectiveness of the vaccines, putting numerous lives at risk. Moreover, many of these cases might occur due to patient misidentification.

Fortunately, RightPatient can help hospitals and health systems to determine patients’ identities accurately, prevent record mix-ups, and ensure efficient vaccine administration without any hiccups, enhancing patient protection against the virus.

Responsible healthcare providers have been using RightPatient for years – preventing patient safety issues, avoidable medical mistakes, duplicate medical records, and medical identity theft in real-time. Contact us now to be a more responsible healthcare provider.

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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.

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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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Positive Patient Outcomes Are Still Hampered by Patient Identification Issues

At this point in time, virtually everyone knows about the coronavirus pandemic, unless they have been living under a rock. Unfortunately, COVID-19’s effects on the US have been disastrous, especially on its healthcare system. The numbers for the US are mindboggling – over 13 million people have contracted COVID-19, whereas over 268,000 people have lost their lives. Moreover, cases are increasing rapidly as was predicted by experts. Things are more serious than ever – restrictions are being placed in many states, encouraging social distancing and fewer social gatherings. Suffice to say, the novel coronavirus has been pushing healthcare to its limits. While doing so, it has also highlighted the existing issues that have been hampering positive patient outcomes for years and need to be addressed quickly.

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Let’s take a closer look at one of the overlooked but more prominent issues – patient misidentification, why it’s such a mess, what caregivers are doing to address it, and how RightPatient ensures positive patient identification for responsible caregivers.

Patient misidentification and how it hampers positive patient outcomes

It is quite straightforward – patient misidentification refers to patients being associated with the wrong, incomplete, inconsistent, or fragmented EHR (electronic health record). This usually happens at registration desks as well as EDs (emergency departments). But it sounds so simple, right? Actually, patient identification errors are much more complicated than that. 

Both registration desks and EDs are high-pressure environments where patients’ EHRs need to be identified quickly and accurately. Unfortunately, issues such as duplicate medical records, common patient names or demographics, and basic search functionalities lead to confusion, after which patient record mix-ups occur. While this was a simplified example, this is how most misidentification cases occur, leading to lower positive patient outcomes down the line.

Thousands of patients are affected every year – facing delayed care, repeated lab tests, shocking bills, detrimental healthcare outcomes, medical errors, and even deaths. Using an effective, standardized patient identifier across the hospitals would be enough to eliminate such issues, but there’s a snag.

Why is patient identification such a mess?

Well, a state-funded UPI (unique patient identifier) was supposed to be created to ensure accurate patient identification, eliminating all the issues associated with mix-ups, and ensuring positive patient outcomes. Fast forward around two decades, and there’s still not a national patient identifier on the horizon.

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A ban has been in effect since the beginning – Section 510 of the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill restricts the use of federal funding to allow HHS (the US Department of Health and Human Services) from creating or adopting a unique patient identifier.

For the past twenty years or so, healthcare providers have been struggling with patient identification errors and as a result, are experiencing duplicate medical records, overlays, detrimental healthcare outcomes, lower scores, denied claims, and more. Moreover, medical identity theft can be prevented in real-time if patients can be properly identified during registration.

While it has been an overlooked issue, patient misidentification has been causing adverse outcomes during the pandemic – repeated testing, medical errors, lost results, and so on. Imagine if a COVID-19 test result was sent to the wrong person and they were admitted into the isolation wing! 

What healthcare providers are doing

Every year, healthcare providers and experts come together to urge Congress and the Senate to abolish the ban so that a unique patient identifier can be made. Unfortunately, they’ve been turned down every year, leading to another year of struggle.

However, responsible healthcare providers are not waiting around for a unique patient identifier – they are implementing effective solutions to prevent mix-ups, the most feasible one being RightPatient.

RightPatient ensures positive patient outcomes

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification solution that has been helping responsible healthcare providers for years. It uses the patients’ faces to verify their identities and provide accurate medical records within seconds.

After appointment scheduling, patients need to provide a selfie and a photo of their driver’s license. RightPatient automatically compares the photos for a match, verifying patient identification remotely. New patients are provided with biometric credentials for future use. It locks the medical records with patients’ photos to prevent mix-ups. Moreover, the platform is flexible enough to be used at any touchpoint, making it ideal for telehealth sessions too. 

Within hospitals, the patients only need to look at the camera – the platform compares the live picture with the one saved with the EHR. The accurate medical records are provided within seconds, ensuring positive patient identification, enhancing healthcare outcomes, and preventing medical errors and all other issues associated with misidentification. Moreover, it can red-flag fraudsters who try to assume patients’ identities, preventing medical identity theft in real-time.

RightPatient is the most feasible patient identification solution currently because it is contactless – leading to a more hygienic environment and reducing infection control issues, something which is crucial for COVID-19.

Even if the UPI gets approval in the future, it will take years for it to be created, implemented, and be effective. Forward-thinking caregivers will thus be coupling it with an experienced patient identifier like RightPatient to ensure immaculate identification across the care continuum.

Healthcare providers such as Baptist Health South Florida, MediSys Health, Grady Health, and Catholic Health Services of Long Island have been using RightPatient to ensure positive patient outcomes, eliminate misidentification, and ensure patient safety across their facilities.