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Patient Identification Policy Impacts Data Integrity and Patient Safety Issues

Let’s face it – patient identification errors are nothing new and it is a much-discussed topic among healthcare leaders. For instance, just a month ago, a new coalition was formed to urge Congress to develop a UPI (unique patient identifier) to be used nationwide. Sadly, such formations are quite common – groups, competitions, and alliances have formed for years for the same reason. The result is that no UPI exists yet and patient identification errors are still wreaking havoc. However, many healthcare providers are reaping the benefits of accurate patient identification – it boils down to the patient identification policy used by the caregiver. Let’s take a closer look at how patient identification errors can cause a multitude of problems, why accurate patient identification is so crucial, and how platforms like RightPatient can help ensure just that.

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Patient misidentification

It is quite self-explanatory. Patient identification errors occur whenever a healthcare facility fails to accurately match the patient with their appropriate medical record present within the EHR system.

It happens for a number of reasons. As already mentioned, it is nothing new and has been the result of years of human errors and improper patient data maintenance like duplicate medical records, overlays, and missing, incorrect, and/or incomplete information, leading to low patient match rates.

To put it into perspective, AHIMA stated that health systems can house up to 20% duplicate records within their EHR systems. The financial impact? It can go as high as $40 million for any given healthcare facility. 

Effects of patient misidentification

Low patient match rates is just the tip of the iceberg! Patient misidentification leads to several problems. Let’s look at the more prominent effects of patient misidentification.

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Whenever you incorrectly identify a patient, it means that one patient’s data will get written into someone else’s medical record – creating patient data integrity issues. This leads to a lot of problems – incorrect medications, repeated lab tests, incorrect medical procedures, inaccurate patient history – the list just goes on. Both the patients will receive inaccurate care by the caregiver as a direct consequence of patient misidentification, hampering patient outcomes.

Naturally, patient misidentification leads to patient safety issues – these are bound to happen if your treatment is based on the wrong medical record. Consequences can be delays in treatment, worse patient outcomes, irreparable damages, and sometimes, patient misidentification can even result in deaths. According to a report by John Hopkins University, medical errors can cause up to 250,000 avoidable deaths per year, many of which happen due to patient identification errors. 

Thus, the million-dollar question is how can healthcare providers ensure accurate patient identification across their facilities?

It depends on a provider’s patient identification system

The accuracy of patient identification is as good as the patient identification policy used by the hospital in question, and there are many options hospitals can choose from. Responsible leaders, in any case, must choose the patient identification system that ensures accurate patient identification, provides a seamless experience, and provides a safe and hygienic environment for all involved.

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There are a plethora of options available that hospitals can use as their primary patient identification policy. Sadly, many are still choosing the most obsolete one – inundating patients with questions. Whenever a patient arrives, officials ask them questions to find the correct medical record. This policy is slow, outdated, and extremely insecure – anyone can pass themselves off as the patient. In fact, this leads to medical identity theft – fraudsters buy stolen medical records from the black market and have all the information to pose successfully as the victim.

One other policy is to use patient ID wristbands. While this is a tad more secure than asking questions, it can still be taken off a patient and used for fraudulent purposes. Moreover, it is a contact-based solution, and that’s not something hospitals would want after the COVID-19 crisis – everyone is extremely aware of infection control issues now.

The most secure solution is using an identification policy where the identifier cannot be transferred or stolen – biometric modalities come to mind. There is a caveat though – patients would be quite reluctant to accept touch-based solutions such as fingerprint or palm-vein scanning.

Implement a touchless patient identification policy

The best option has been left for last – touchless patient identification platforms. RightPatient is the leading photo-based biometric patient identification system used by progressive healthcare providers.

Locking the medical records of patients with their photos upon registration, returning patients only need to look at the camera and the platform matches the photo with the one saved alongside their medical record, ensuring accurate patient identity verification.

There are many patient identification platforms available – be the responsible leader by choosing the one that shares the common goal of improving patient safety and quality of care at your facility.

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Identify Patients Correctly to Reduce Significant Healthcare Costs

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown the whole world off-balance, and even though the world is opening up in places, it is still continuing to affect lives on a daily basis. Amidst all the chaos, healthcare became one of the most important parts of the economies across the world, and the US is no exception. However, with the overwhelming number of coronavirus patients who needed the utmost care, hospitals had to reallocate all of their efforts towards the affected patients – leading to hard decisions for other services provided. This resulted in the past few months being full of furloughs, layoffs, and salary cuts due to huge financial instabilities. As the US healthcare system slowly continues to open up in phases and resume its normal practices, healthcare providers need to focus on reducing costs further. One of the most effective ways to do that is to identify patients correctly. 

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Why hospitals need to identify patients correctly

There are a lot of issues associated with the US healthcare system. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, hospitals had their fair share of problems. One of the more prominent ones was the lack of accurate patient identification.

Whenever a patient comes to the hospital, the EHR (electronic health record) user will ask for information such as name, DOB, address, etc., which will help them obtain the correct medical record from the system. This will prepare the patients to obtain healthcare services, expecting to leave with better health after the treatment. Thus, healthcare begins with the hospital identifying the accurate medical record of the patient. 

Even though it sounds quite easy and straightforward, that is not the case. Human errors, negligence, and inconsistencies can lead to issues within the EHR systems. Even the smallest of mistakes can lead to large problems, jeopardizing patient safety. The most common problems within the EHR systems are known as duplicate medical records and overlays. Other than that, even patients with common names and demographic characteristics can be mixed up by healthcare providers, leading to disastrous consequences.

Some examples 

Last November, Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital mixed up two patients, which led to a patient getting the wrong kidney transplant. Thankfully, the wrong patient was compatible with the kidney, so no serious harm was done. However, not every patient mix-up case is as lucky. The same is true for misidentifications caused by duplicate records and overlays. After the incident at Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, they started using four identifiers altogether. Practically, it will still be quite ineffective, as human errors are bound to happen. Moreover, if there are duplicate medical records or overlays in the EHR system, like the majority of healthcare providers, then even the four identifiers will not prove useful. The EHR user will simply get confused between the duplicates and overlays and may end up choosing the wrong record inadvertently.

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Finding the accurate medical record of a patient within an EHR system that has duplicates is akin to finding a needle in a haystack. Take the case of Harris Health System. After a thorough analysis, they found some interesting numbers. It houses around 3.4 million patient records, out of which 7.3% had the common case where two or more patients had the same first and last names. 2.2% had a common case where five or more patients shared the same first and last names. There were 2,488 patients named Maria Garcia, out of which 231 Maria Garcias had the same DOBs. It is more than likely that some of those 231 records of Maria Garcias are duplicates or overlays. This can easily confuse any given EHR users while identifying patients, and unless an effective way to identify patients is used, the problems will keep on compounding.

How big a problem is patient misidentification?

According to AHIMA, smaller hospitals can have around 5-10% of duplicate medical records. On the other hand, larger health systems can house up to 20% duplicate records within the EHR systems of their different hospitals. These duplicates can easily cost up to $40 million for any provider.

Patient misidentification also hampers patient safety. Whenever a patient is wrongly identified, he/she will be treated based on the wrong medical record, medical history, allergies, medication, lab test results, and so on. The bigger the complexity, the more danger the patient faces. There have even been cases where patient mix-ups have caused deaths. These seriously damage the goodwill of the healthcare providers. Not only that, but providers also face heavy financial repercussions in the form of denied claims, lawsuits, and poor revenue cycle management. Lack of proper patient identification leads to increased medical identity theft as well – all of which RightPatient can prevent.

Is it possible to identify patients correctly?

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Patient misidentifications have been around for years, and with them, talks of an effective patient identifier have been around as well. While many healthcare leaders have been clamoring to get the archaic ban on state-funded UPI (unique patient identifier) lifted for years, it has not led to fruition yet. Last year, while the House of Representatives supported abolishing the ban, the Senate did not agree, leading to more misidentification cases, increased medical identity theft, and avoidable deaths.

However, healthcare leaders have taken it upon themselves to identify patients correctly. Many are using different platforms to identify patients accurately – fingerprint scanning, palm-vein scanning, and so on. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, all of these will be considered dangerous as they require patients to touch the device every time they come in for healthcare services. Everyone now knows how big of a deal infection control issues are, and patients will be extremely hesitant to touch any such device in the foreseeable future. Moreover, maintaining such devices is quite taxing – cleaning it after a patient uses it is itself a nightmare. 

Progressive leaders have opted for a futureproof solution – RightPatient. It is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that locks the medical records of the patients with their photos. After registration, all the patient needs to do is look at the camera and RightPatient matches their photos and accurately retrieves their medical records within seconds. It is not only easy to use but is also hygienic, as it requires no physical contact nor cleaning after every use, making it the only sensible choice as hospitals are opening up. Leading providers like Terrebonne General Medical Center, University Health Care System, and several others are using RightPatient to protect over 10 million patients – preventing duplicate record creation, preventing medical identity theft, reducing denied claims, and minimizing losses. Are you cutting down these costs effectively, since it is of utmost importance now?

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Touchless Patient Identifiers are Crucial Now – Are you Using Them?

COVID-19 has changed everything – the way we live, the way we interact with each other, and the way we work. However, it has impacted healthcare around the world most. The US healthcare system is overwhelmed with the number of COVID-19 patients and the frontline workers are still risking their lives to save patients. While the numbers are still rising, many healthcare providers in the US are partially reopening, or are at least planning to do so. With that in mind, do they have the right tools to reduce infection control issues at the places where they are the most common – EDs? What kind of patient identifiers are they using, and do these solutions create or reduce infection control issues?

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Why patient identifiers are needed

Patient identification errors have been rampant across the US healthcare system – that’s no secret. They cause medical errors, leading to deaths. Another study showed that 72% of misidentification cases occurred during patient encounters, whereas 12.6% happened during intakes – just showing how common and serious they are. 

These patient identification errors occur because of several reasons. Duplicate medical records and medical record overlays are some of the more common culprits – health systems with multiple facilities can house up to 20% duplicates, and can cost around $40 million for any healthcare provider. When a patient comes in, the EHR user naturally gets confused when he/she sees that there are multiple records for the same patient. This either leads to delays in treatments or else causes medical errors if the wrong EHR is chosen.

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Lack of accurate patient identification also leads to medical identity theft. When an actor comes in and assumes the identity of the victim, the hospital cannot determine the anomaly without a concrete patient identifier in place. Thus, patient identifiers are quite crucial for providers.

The best patient identifier post-COVID-19

COVID-19 has reignited the fear of infection control issues among the general public – it has shown how dangerous contagious diseases can be. People are practicing social distancing for their safety and it looks like this will be the norm for quite some time. Even when the pandemic is over, the fear of diseases via contact will still linger among people. That fear will be even more pronounced when they visit hospitals. 

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While hospitals were already worried about infection control issues, these have become a topmost priority now for all of them. One of the hotspots of infection control issues is the EDs – infected patients can pass the contagious diseases to others if they contaminate materials such as patient identification devices that require contact. However, after the pandemic, the majority of patients will be highly reluctant to interact with a patient identification device which requires touch, since most of them are well-informed about how harmful they can be. While devices like fingerprint and palm-vein scanners might be accurate, they are not hygienic and will simply increase infection control issues if used further. Also, maintaining the cleanliness of such devices can be an arduous task – cleaning them after every patient touches them is not practical or efficient.  

This is where RightPatient comes in. It is a contactless biometric patient identification platform that locks the medical records of the patients with their irises or facial patterns. After registration, returning patients simply look at the camera and the platform identifies them within seconds, retrieving the appropriate medical record for use – it’s that easy! RightPatient is hygienic as well, as no physical contact is required. That’s why leading healthcare providers like Terrebonne General Medical Center are using it. 

Contactless patient identifiers are the future, and RightPatient is the perfect one for you to reduce infection control issues in a post-COVID-19 world. Are you part of that future? 

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

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

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

Infection control concerns about fingerprint and vein scanners

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

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

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

Facial and iris recognition modalities for patient identification

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

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

Enhance patient safety with RightPatient

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

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

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5 Strategies to Ensure Revenue Integrity in Healthcare

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

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

Identify the problem

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

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

Rely on technology

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

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Ensure compliance

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

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

Accurate documentation and coding

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

Improve hygiene and foster patient trust with RightPatient

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

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

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

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

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Improve the Accuracy of Patient Identification and Boost your Profitability

Patient identification errors have been a long-term problematic part of the U.S. healthcare system and there are no signs of slowing it down. It causes problems for all involved and is one of the topmost issues jeopardizing patient safety. Still, the importance of improving the accuracy of patient identification is often underestimated.

Reason to improve the accuracy of patient identification

To put things into perspective, every year, almost 195,000 deaths occur because of medical errors. Ten out of 17 of these deaths occur because of patient identification errors, according to a comprehensive study

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Patients may suffer financially from identity theft. For example, a person who did not even go to a hospital may receive an invoice stating that they did – a classic case of mistaken identity. Patients may also be mixed up due to common names and features such as age, city, DOB, etc. All these incidents have a ripple effect on healthcare providers – the bottom line, reputation, and performance may be impacted as well. 

However, there are solutions available, that are used by leading healthcare providers to improve the accuracy of patient identification. The benefits of RightPatient to providers and patients: 

Benefits of accurate patient identification

Before the usage of patient identification platforms such as RightPatient, patients were commonly misidentified due to issues such as duplicate records, overlays, common names and demographic information shared with other patients (name, DOB, etc.), and so on. The fact that larger hospitals can have more than a million records stored in their EHR  systems does not help either. It leads to mistreatment, wrong medical decisions, and wrong medications, based on inaccurate or incomplete medical history arising from duplicate records or overlays.

When an accurate patient identification platform is used, misidentifications become a thing of the past – the platform can easily identify the patient after enrollment. All the patient needs to do is scan their biometrics and their accurate medical record is identified within seconds.

All the medical data, medication, lab test results, and discharge information can now accurately be stored in the same medical record, improving patient data integrity. This helps build up a robust database of accurate, complete, and error-free patient records, overcoming the data integrity challenges caused by misidentification. 

A biometric patient identification platform like RightPatient also prevents medical identity theft. As the medical records are locked with the patient’s photo and biometric signature, an impostor cannot assume the identity of the patient. The impostor will be red-flagged immediately, as their biometric features will be different from the patient’s one, stopping medical identity theft in real-time. 

RightPatient also helps to improve the revenue cycle and reduces denied claims. As the patients are identified before a service is provided, there is no chance of identification errors – the correct patient receives their appropriate invoices every time, saving lots of costs associated with claim denials and this significantly improves the revenue cycle.

Some statistics

RightPatient helps to prevent duplicate record creation. For Atlanta-based hospital Grady Health, it has reduced duplicate rates by up to 90%. According to AHIMA, the financial impact of duplicate records can be up to $40 million. That’s a lot of money RightPatient can save! 

Final words

RightPatient is the leading biometric patient identification platform that locks medical records with the patient’s photo and biometric data. This ensures that unauthorized parties cannot access the medical record without the patient’s biometric scan. The platform also ensures that the accurate medical record is presented every time the patient goes to the hospital. It helps to improve the accuracy of patient identification in all the hospitals it is being used. Do you want to improve your facility’s patient identification and save millions along the way?

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Hospital data breach results in an expensive lawsuit – Is yours next?

Hospital data breaches have been rampant for quite some years now. Last year’s figures alone are quite frightening- one states that 41 million patient records were exposed, essentially making the patients potential victims of medical identity theft. Thus, both data breaches and medical identity theft has been in the limelight. These unwanted nuisances have turned the attention towards healthcare providers who are suffering from these events. One such provider is the University of Missouri Health Care (MU Health), who suffered a data breach of 14 thousand records and also were hit by a lawsuit by the impacted patients.

This happened back in 2019. The provider was sued by patients who were affected by the breach in question. The patients reasoned that the breach had made their sensitive records prone to medical identity theft- their fear was not irrational.

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The actual story

On the first day of May 2019, the healthcare provider found out that an outsider somehow accessed email accounts of two employees for more than a week. Following the incident, the concerned officials said that they took the necessary steps to secure both accounts. 

It was not disclosed how the hacker got access and whether it was a phishing incident or not. However, the healthcare provider revealed that the affected account had sensitive patient data stored, such as names, DOB, medical record numbers, insurance details, as well as treatment details. The hospital data breach even consisted of the Social Security Numbers of some unlucky patients.

The data breach, fortunately, did not affect all the patients of MU Health. However, it did affect around 14,400 patients, which is no small number. As soon as the provider’s inquiry ended regarding the breach on the twenty-seventh day of July, it started to inform the patients regarding the breach. Oddly, the organization notified the patients after the required timeframe of 60 days as per HIPAA regulations.

The aftermath

Within the same week of notifying the patients, one of them filed a lawsuit, followed by 19 others. Their reason was very simple- the data breach would likely result in medical identity theft and lead to lower-quality care. The patients also believed that they were paying quite an amount of money, and thus, MU Health should add stringent security with their services.

Hospital data breaches can arm hackers with enough information to obtain medical services assigned to the patients. The hackers could either expose the data, sell it, or use it for themselves. These could lead to the patients paying for healthcare services they did not avail. These could also become denied claims for healthcare providers. Whichever way one looks at it, data breaches and medical identity theft is extremely undesirable. 

How do hospitals prevent medical identity theft?

Although it is quite prevalent nowadays, medical identity theft can actually be prevented. One way to make sure that the medical records are safe is by locking them with a key that hackers cannot forge. That is exactly what RightPatient does. It is a biometric patient identification platform that locks the patient records with their biometric data. Once the platform attaches the medical record with the data during enrollment, a third party cannot come and claim that record, preventing medical identity theft and ensuring accurate patient identification. RightPatient has been preventing medical identity theft for leading hospitals such as University Health Care System and Grady Health System.

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How RightPatient Benefits Medical Identity Theft and the Healthcare Red Flags Rule

It’s no secret that medical identity theft is on the rise. Over 2 million Americans each year become victims of medical identity theft, and, unfortunately, that number only continues to grow.

It’s growing for a number of reasons. First of all, there were more healthcare data breaches in 2019 than the previous three years combined. These breaches compromised the medical records of over 40 million Americans

Let’s consider this in light of rising healthcare costs and a worsening opioid epidemic. These facts create a ripe market for medical identity theft. Patient identity data is readily available on the black market and there is a ton of demand for it.

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When medical identity theft is perpetrated, patients and healthcare providers suffer. Victims can face bills for services they never received, incorrect treatment data mixed into their medical record can affect future outcomes and quality of care, and the costs to restore their identity can be prohibitive. 

Healthcare providers lose millions of dollars for services that will never be paid for. Increasingly, they also face litigation costs from patient lawsuits for failing to protect their information. 

Providers also face another burden. In 2009, the FTC started to enforce the Red Flags Rule, which requires healthcare providers to develop programs that can help to detect and address situations that are “red flag” indicators of medical identity theft. The goal is to ensure vigilance and reduce the potential costs associated with medical identity theft.

However, implementing red flag processes, keeping them current, and ensuring compliance can be expensive and time consuming for healthcare providers. These processes must also be administered by front-line staff members, typically patient access employees that handle registration. 

This is an enormous responsibility for these employees when considering the potential consequences of medical identity theft. Compliance with red flag rules also places a substantial burden on registrars who are already buried with additional duties such as verifying insurance, collecting payment, and processing patients as efficiently as possible to reduce wait times and improve margins. 

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Now, against the backdrop of these market realities, imagine if the risk of medical identity theft could be substantially mitigated, if not eliminated altogether. This is where RightPatient comes into play. 

RightPatient validates that patients are who they claim to be when scheduling appointments by comparing a patient’s selfie photo to the photo on her driver’s license or other ID cards. When patients show up for visits, RightPatient accurately identifies them during registration and other points along the care continuum. 

RightPatient creates a closed-loop platform to prevent medical identity theft and other errors that can impact patient safety, revenue cycle, and data quality. This saves a lot of time, money, and hassle for patients and healthcare providers.

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Why The Coronavirus Makes Patient Identification More Critical Than Ever

In case you’ve been sleeping under a rock somewhere, the COVID-19 coronavirus is causing global concern, with some health professionals and media outlets already referring to the outbreak as a pandemic. 

The lack of available testing kits in the U.S. has hindered our ability to accurately determine the actual scale of the problem here. However, as of this writing, we do know that coronavirus has infected more than 108,000 people globally, with nearly 600 cases in the U.S. and 22 deaths. 

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With the virus continuing to spread in the U.S., those experiencing symptoms are being advised to call their healthcare provider. While many healthcare providers and states are preparing to handle the growing outbreak, many patients are seeking treatment at emergency rooms where the risk of spreading the virus to other patients and health workers can increase dramatically.

In addition, some patients that do not meet certain testing criteria may not be immediately diagnosed as having coronavirus. Accurate patient identification is absolutely critical in these circumstances to help contain the growth of coronavirus infections. 

Imagine a patient who arrives at the ER with respiratory symptoms but does not meet the testing criteria. The patient could be treated without needed precautions and released. If the patient returned later with worsening or other symptoms and was misidentified, the clinical team would not have access to critical information that could immediately trigger the prerequisites of a coronavirus infection, putting every person in that facility at even greater risk. 

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Biometric patient identification can certainly help to prevent these mistakes. However, the type of biometric technology being utilized can have significant consequences. For example, healthcare providers using contact-dependent devices such as palm vein biometrics may risk exacerbating the spread of the coronavirus. That particular modality requires patients to place their entire hand on a plastic mold to read their vein pattern. 

Under the current market conditions, would you want to touch that device, especially knowing that every other patient was being instructed to do the same? 

At a minimum, healthcare workers would need to disinfect the device after every patient encounter. This is not a practical or safe approach. 

IT companies in Hyderabad India have actually been instructed to suspend use of fingerprint biometric systems for employees as standard operating procedure if the coronavirus is detected on their premises. If this is being advised for employee time and attendance in an IT company, will healthcare providers continue to ask each and every patient to touch a biometric device across their locations? If not, how will the risk of patient misidentification contribute to the spread of coronavirus?

Since our inception, we have advocated for using the RightPatient platform with our photo-based engine. This was based on 18 years of experience in biometric software and our vision for the company. We are now the leader in this space with many providers using our platform. 

One factor involved in our decision-making process was hygiene and infection control. Our photo-based biometric patient authentication platform does not require patients to touch anything, which is ideal in a healthcare environment even under normal market conditions, but particularly now in light of the COVID-19 coronavirus. 

Our mission is to prevent medical identity theft and duplicate medical records to mitigate risk for healthcare providers while improving patient safety, data quality, and revenue cycle. Especially now, accurate patient identification is critically important but providers should think about the risks of a contact-dependent solution. They should also consider the experience, vision, and track record of their vendor to select a trusted partner that will always keep them ahead of the curve.

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Proper Patient Identification Can Help Fight the Opioid Crisis

The opioid crisis has been a menace since it started. It spread like wildfire throughout the country, and everyone involved in healthcare is still struggling to keep the situation under control. PDMPs (prescription drug monitoring programs) have been set up in almost every state to monitor activities like prescribing, distributing, and using controlled substances such as opioids. These PDMPs help identify patients who might be prone to drug abuse and provides the hospitals with opportunities to prevent such scenarios.

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If that is true, then why is the opioid crisis still a thing?

PDMPs are dependent on the data they are given to work with. They receive patient data like logs, records, patient profiles, and even counseling records. Thus, if the data is clean, then the PDMPs will work perfectly, and vice versa. Here lies the challenge – most of the data can be incomplete or unreliable, to begin with.

According to Injury Facts, the odds of a person dying from opioids are greater than dying from a motor vehicle collision. This has made opioid overdoses to be the fifth largest cause of deaths in the country. Everyone is on edge regarding the issue, and it is paramount that the data needed by PDMPs are accurate, valid. And consistent with the patients. Accurate patient data at all times can drastically reduce the opioid overdoses and bring the whole situation under control.

The biggest challenges – data quality and patient matching errors

Hospitals and health systems have been adapting EHR systems quite rapidly for the past few decades, which has helped digitize medical records. Even after all these years, proper patient identification is still a significant challenge for many. Much of the patient data have errors or are incomplete. Many of these can be traced back to duplicate medical records or overlays. According to a survey conducted by PDMP Training and Technical Assistance Center, the majority of the states are facing problems with patient records – 53% said that there are data quality issues.

Can proper patient identification be the answer?

Accurate patient matching is the only solution – something which can identify the accurate patients within seconds. RightPatient is just that – a biometric patient identification platform. It locks the patients’ medical records with their biometric data such as fingerprints or irises. After enrollment, the patient needs only to scan their biometrics, and the platform identifies the accurate EHR within seconds. Several health systems such as University Health Care System are using it and are reporting enhanced patient safety, improved revenue cycle, and reduced medical identity thefts. No longer can drug abusers come in and claim someone else’s identity – the system flags them within seconds. Health systems that are using RightPatient have dramatically reduced opioid issues within their premises. Since accurate patient record matching is the key, RightPatient is the perfect solution for the problem. Proper patient identification has never been easier and safer!