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Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Can be Achieved with Positive Patient Identification

Among the several issues faced by the US healthcare system, one of the more prominent is patient misidentification. We know this to be true because even during the coronavirus pandemic, experts have stated that patient matching issues were continuing. Moreover, coalitions were formed to demand the fabled “unique patient identifier” once again. But why do healthcare providers demand patient identifiers time and again? Let’s take a look at some statistics that show how serious the issue is, some consequences caused by the absence of effective patient identification, and how patient safety and quality improvement are related to it.

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Patient identification issues are nothing new

The last decade has been a transition towards technology for the US healthcare system. Caregivers such as physician practices, hospitals, and health systems have made the jump from traditional paper medical records towards the more standard electronic health records (EHRs). However, as they did so, they saw the issues that occurred due to the absence of an effective patient identifier nationwide. One of the biggest challenges is matching patients to their accurate medical record whenever they arrive for healthcare services. Let’s review some recent statistics about how common misidentifications are. 

Some stats to back it up

According to a study conducted by eHealth Initiative, approximately 38% of the respondents have suffered from an unwanted event caused by patient misidentification within the last 2 years. Many of these events are caused by duplicate medical records, and an overwhelming 66% of the respondents blame data entry errors that lead to duplicates. Moreover, 80% of the providers have dedicated FTEs (full-time employees) or third-party contractors to solve these issues. The biggest barriers to reducing poor patient matching were the lack of prioritization and the lack of technology. 32% of the caregivers stated that they had around 3-10% duplicates within their EHR systems. All of these statistics show that patient misidentification is growing and needs to be addressed by caregivers. Fortunately, many hospitals and health systems are already using touchless patient identification platforms like RightPatient to solve these issues, but more on that later. Let’s see how patient misidentification is a barrier to patient safety and quality improvement.

Patient misidentification hampers patient safety and quality improvement

While patient misidentification causes a lot of problems for any given caregiver and patient, let’s take a look at how it impacts patient safety, and in turn, healthcare quality.

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Patient misidentification is closely related to duplicate medical records

Duplicates can lead to patient misidentification and vice versa. For instance, if a patient comes in and provides their nickname instead of the name on the medical record, the registrar won’t be able to accurately identify the medical record. Thus, after failing to find the record, a new one gets created, leading to another duplicate record within the EHR system.

Likewise, if there are many duplicates within the system against the same patient, there are high chances that all of them have incomplete and inconsistent information. This will lead to matching the patient to the improper medical record. Both of these scenarios will lead to incorrect procedures, adversely impacting patient safety.

Patient misidentification hampers patient data integrity

As previously stated, data entry errors are quite common during registration. Thus, if patients are associated with the wrong medical record, they will be treated based on someone else’s medical history, illnesses, allergies, and so on. One single pill can severely impact the patient’s health – one can imagine what would happen if the whole procedure was wrong! Such cases have led to delayed care, repeated lab tests, and compromised patient safety.

Patient misidentification leads to medical errors

Quite closely tied with the previous point, patient safety and quality improvement cannot be achieved if medical errors keep occurring. While medical errors happen for a variety of reasons, many are preventable, and as stated previously, 38% of the healthcare providers surveyed reported that they suffered from medical errors tied to patient misidentification. These errors could have easily been prevented had the caregivers used robust patient identity matching solutions.

Patient safety and quality improvement is achievable with RightPatient

Leading healthcare providers such as Catholic Health Services of Long Island, Terrebonne General Medical Center, Community Medical Centers, among others, have been using RightPatient and improving patient safety and quality of care. As the healthcare industry’s leading touchless patient identification platform, RightPatient has years of experience helping hospitals and health systems identify patients’ accurate medical records across the continuum of care. The platform uses patients’ photos to identify their accurate medical records, prevent medical identity theft, avoid duplicate records, and prevent medical errors – enhancing patient safety and ensuring a hygienic environment that will be crucial in a post-pandemic world.

Contact us right away to learn how we can help you achieve your goals.

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Patient Safety and Quality Can Be Improved by Preventing Duplicate Medical Records

Patient safety is one of the more integral aspects of any given healthcare system. It ensures that patients are getting the required treatment without any medical errors or harm, healthcare outcomes are optimal, and healthcare services are delivered to the highest possible standard. While those are the common aims, the reality is quite different in the U.S. healthcare system. It has always been inundated with a number of serious issues – healthcare data breaches, medical identity theft, patient identification issues, lack of price transparency, and duplicate medical records are just some of them.  The root cause of many of the issues are duplicate medical records. While we already had a closer look at duplicate medical records and how it impacts revenue cycle optimization, let’s have a look at how preventing duplicates can lead to enhanced patient safety and quality, among other things.

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How duplicates impact patient safety and quality of healthcare

In a previous article, we’ve already seen how medical record errors like duplicates and overlays are created and how they cause claim denials. Let’s see how they impact patient safety and quality of healthcare as well.

AHIMA’s Shannon Harris and Shannon H. Houser stated in an issue of the Journal of AHIMA that duplicates and overlays don’t only cause financial woes, but lead the physicians and healthcare staff to inadvertently causing medical errors. For instance, imagine that a single patient has duplicate medical records in a hospital’s EHR system. While treating the patient, the physician will see the duplicates but chooses the one that has obsolete information. Since the information is not updated, the treatment or medication might very well cause adverse effects. Such cases might even lead to transferring the patients for emergency treatments, leading to jeopardized patient outcomes.

That’s not the only way duplicate medical records impact patient safety and quality of healthcare – let’s look at the latter. When you have fragmented information within duplicate records, issues such as repeated lab tests and delays in treatment are quite common. Since the majority of the healthcare providers’ registration systems have ineffective patient identity matching techniques, the number of duplicates keeps on increasing, leading to patient safety issues, patient data corruption, and financial troubles in the form of denied claims. 

How are hospitals addressing duplicates?

Sadly, rectifying duplicates and overlays are quite complex and a nightmare for any given healthcare provider. While most of the hospitals are trying to fix duplicates by reallocating their HIM resources and even dedicating some of their FTEs (full-time employees) to identify and rectify the erroneous records, unless they address the frontend issues (read: identify patients accurately), it will be a never-ending cycle. Patients will be misidentified, duplicates will be created, and FTEs will be assigned to fix them on the backend, taking up valuable time and resources.

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So, can hospitals address these issues and prevent duplicate medical records on the frontend?

RightPatient enhances patient safety and quality of healthcare

As previously mentioned, if the patients are accurately identified during the registration process, duplicates can be prevented right from the beginning. That’s what we do best with our industry-leading patient identification platform. RightPatient, with its touchless design, ensures that patients are identified across the care continuum, starting from appointment scheduling. Patients only need to provide their selfies and a photo of their driver’s license when they schedule appointments. RightPatient matches the photos and makes sure that the accurate patient record is identified every time the patient accesses healthcare services, remotely or otherwise.

When the patients arrive at the hospital, all they need to do is look at the camera – RightPatient matches the saved photo and the real-time photo during the check-in process, preventing duplicates, eliminating denied claims, and enhancing patient safety. The best part of RightPatient is that the entire identification process is touchless, creating a safe environment for all involved in a post-COVID-19 world.

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Revenue Cycle Optimization Efforts Are Hampered by Duplicate Medical Records

Medical record errors such as duplicate medical records and overlays are issues that keep resurfacing time and again, especially when they lead to patient identification errors. We’ve already taken a closer look at duplicate medical records, how they are created, and how they impact patient safety. However, these are not the only problems medical record errors create. Another prominent issue is that duplicates jeopardize your revenue cycle optimization efforts by creating denied claims. Let’s take a look at exactly how that happens, how denied claims can take up your valuable resources, and how RightPatient can help combat duplicates and overlays, and in turn, optimize revenue cycle management.

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How duplicates get created

To understand how duplicate medical records affect the revenue cycle, let’s take a brief look at how duplicates and overlays get created. These usually originate during the registration process, especially if the healthcare providers don’t have any effective patient identity verification system in place.

For instance, patients keep coming in and they need to be identified immediately so that they can be treated. This clearly shows that hospital registration desks are environments that are always hectic and staff is under pressure, more so for busy or larger hospitals. If you factor in outdated or ineffective patient identification platforms, duplicates are bound to occur, along with problems such as infection control issues that are associated with touch-based patient identification platforms.

Coming back to duplicates, the registrars have a very small window to identify the accurate medical records from an EHR system that might house thousands of records. Name changes, common names, misspellings, and nicknames only make matters worse. For instance, the medical record is saved under the name “Richard Grayson”, but the patient uses his nickname “Rick Grayson”. These are bound to create identification issues, and when the registrar can’t find the accurate record, they might end up creating a new one – leading to a duplicate record. Furthermore, existing duplicates will create more confusion for the registrars – AHIMA (The American Health Information Management Association) has stated that larger healthcare facilities have around 20% duplicates.

That’s how medical record errors usually begin, and while we’ve already talked about how it impacts patient safety, how exactly does it affect revenue cycle optimization and a hospital’s financial performance? Let’s analyze the issue.

How revenue cycle optimization is hampered by duplicates

According to a Black Book report, 33% of denied claims were caused by patient identification errors in 2017, costing the average healthcare provider $1.5 million and the entire U.S. healthcare system a whopping $6 billion per year. Let’s see how duplicates lead to denied claims that hamper the revenue cycle.

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It’s quite straightforward – as duplicate medical records consist of incorrect, obsolete, fragmented, or incomplete information, these lead to coding and billing errors. Moreover, as duplicates hamper patient care, litigation costs regarding such cases are not unheard of. Not only do healthcare providers lose money, but they also lose their goodwill – these stories spread like wildfire, whenever they occur.

Coming back to duplicate records and revenue cycle, let’s take a look at how they are related. One of the more common places where denied claims occur due to duplicates is during surgical procedures, according to an article from HIM Briefings. Let’s use the example provided by Letha Stewart from QuadraMed within the article.

During the presurgery phase, the patient comes in and is registered as “Richard Grayson” and has the medical record number 111. As previously mentioned, common names lead to confusion among the registrars, and thus, without an effective patient identifier, the registrar couldn’t find the accurate medical record on the day of the surgery. As a result, a new record gets created under “Rick Grayson” with a different number, for instance, 222. When the insurance provider verifies the claims regarding this surgical procedure, it will notice the glaring discrepancy – there are different medical records involved for a single procedure. Moreover, the insurer most likely will use the patient record available at their end, and seeing that the records don’t match, the claim will be denied. While this is a simple but illuminating scenario, this is how most of the claim denials that stem from duplicate medical records occur. To sum it up, incorrect, fragmented, or incomplete patient data and discrepancies lead to denied claims that impact revenue cycle optimization efforts.

Providers dedicate FTEs for fixing medical record errors

Duplicate records and overlays need to be identified and fixed to prevent impediments to revenue cycle optimization. Most providers do that by dedicating their full-time employees (FTEs) from their HIM departments. While these activities are necessary, they also consume a significant amount of resources and time. According to Stewart, many providers dedicate around five FTEs to solve these issues. However, if providers don’t have an effective patient identifier in place, they cannot take the load off their FTEs and they’ll need to continue fixing these errors for quite some time, leading to lower productivity and higher costs. Given the current pandemic, providers need to mitigate costs as much as possible. That’s where RightPatient can help them.

RightPatient enhances revenue cycle optimization

As we’ve mentioned several times, going to the root of the issue, patient identification, is the best strategy. If you avoid duplicates and overlays at the frontend, you won’t have to deal with them later and face consequences like denied claims, allocating FTEs for fixing the issues, and higher costs. But how can RightPatient help with that?

RightPatient is the leading touchless biometric patient identification platform used by many providers to prevent duplicates. With its photo-based search engine, RightPatient identifies patients from appointment scheduling and beyond. Be it remote patient validation or identification within the healthcare facility, RightPatient ensures that the correct medical record is provided every time within seconds. Reduce denied claims, prevent duplicates, and enhance patient safety with RightPatient now.

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A Closer Look at Duplicate Medical Records and How They Can Be Prevented

There are a lot of issues with the U.S. healthcare system, but a few of them can be traced back to medical record errors – duplicate medical records and overlays, to be precise. For instance, duplicate records and overlays lead to patient safety issues, reduced healthcare outcomes, patient misidentification, billing and coding errors, denied claims, and revenue cycle management issues. Even during the coronavirus pandemic, duplicates have been leading to poor patient identification – hampering the response rate and patient outcomes. Let’s take a closer look at how and why duplicates are created, their effects on patients and caregivers, and how they can be prevented with RightPatient.

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Duplicate medical records and overlays

With the technological advancements available today and being arguably the world’s most advanced country, one might ask why are duplicate records a thing in the U.S. healthcare system? Well, there can be many explanations for this – errors made during registration, already existing duplicate records, the lack of a proper patient identification system, pressure at the frontend, and so on.

Duplicate medical records and overlays occur especially within the premises of busy healthcare providers – when under a tremendous amount of pressure, registration employees are more likely to make mistakes. While hiring more staff to reduce the pressure might work, without an effective patient identification platform, these errors will inevitably continue to be created. Before diving into how they are created, let’s distinguish between duplicate records and overlays.

Duplicate records

It’s self-explanatory from the name itself. Duplicate records refer to more than one medical record assigned to a single patient – this itself implies the complications such records bring. For instance, it means that there will be redundant records within the EHR system, leading to patient data integrity issues. Moreover, each duplicate record will have different, incomplete, obsolete, or inconsistent information – leading to data corruption. Caregivers have to make important decisions based on the information within medical records (lab test results, vitals, medications, allergies), and when they are using wrong or fragmented information, quality of care takes a hit. Overall, patient safety is compromised – more on that later.

Overlays

Overlays are in a league of their own. The main difference between overlays and duplicates is that overlays are created when one patient’s medical record or its information is entered into an entirely different patient’s record – merging the information together. While they only occur rarely, they can be expensive and extremely dangerous for both patients and caregivers according to HIM Briefings as well as our own experience. Not only do overlays corrupt patient data, but they also lead to patient safety issues, repeated lab test results, wrong treatment, and so on.

Now that we’ve seen what duplicate records and overlays are, let’s see how they get created.

How are duplicate medical records and overlays created?

These medical record errors are usually made during the patients’ and caregivers’ first point of contact – registration. These are typically busy areas for any given hospital – naturally, the employees have a short amount of time and a huge amount of work. Add to that the lack of an effective patient identifier, patients sharing the same information (names, DOBs, etc.), and a sea of medical records, and you have an environment that is likely to result in duplicate records and overlays.

Most of these issues occur because the registrars have no concrete way to identify patients accurately. Moreover, common names, nicknames, name changes, entering incorrect data, and misspelling patient names are some factors that will hinder the attempts to find accurate records. For instance, there might be quite a few “Will Smiths” in the EHR system. Also, “William Smith” might have his record saved under “Will Smith”, but he mentions himself as the former in front of the registrar. Moreover, many patients have their names changed after marriages or separations. All in all, there are a lot of factors in play here.

The impact of medical record errors

There are many consequences of having duplicate records and overlays in EHR systems for both patients and caregivers.

AHIMA has stated that 20% of the medical records in healthcare systems with multiple facilities are duplicates, and they can cost up to $40 million for any healthcare provider. Moreover, these lead to wrong treatment, undesirable patient outcomes, and thus, lower ratings and loss of goodwill for hospitals. Other consequences faced by hospitals are denied claims and poor revenue cycle optimization, hitting their bottom lines, and reducing their already razor-thin margins.

Patient safety takes a huge hit – when a patient gets treated with a fragmented or an entirely different medical record, there are so many things that could go wrong! Wrong medications, delays in treatment, repeated lab tests, and even death are the consequences for patients. All of these issues are avoidable if the caregivers use an effective patient identifier to prevent duplicate medical records and overlays. This is where RightPatient comes in.

RightPatient prevents duplicate medical records and more

For years, RightPatient, with its touchless biometric patient identification platform, has been preventing medical record errors such as duplicates and overlays. Not only that, but it also ensures accurate patient identification using the one factor that doesn’t change and cannot be stolen or transferred – the patients’ faces. 

After scheduling an appointment successfully, patients are sent an SMS or email and are asked to provide their selfies and a photo of their driver’s license. The platform matches the photos and ensures that the patients are accurately identified right from the start. Whenever patients visit the hospital, those enrolled under RightPatient only need to look at the camera – the platform identifies them with the saved photo, retrieving the appropriate medical records, preventing duplicates in the process.

Prevent duplicates and enhance patient safety now with RightPatient.

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Telehealth Is Here to Stay – Ensure Patient Data Integrity While Using It

To put it bluntly, the coronavirus pandemic has been catastrophic for the entire world. The U.S. has been leading with the highest number of cases – 6,550,637 at this point. However, there has been a silver lining in the whole coronavirus pandemic – telehealth. Not only did it experience a meteoric rise in the U.S., but it also helped to flatten the curve – patients don’t have any risk of contracting the virus when they use telehealth. While the increased usage of telehealth demonstrates that it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future, healthcare providers must ensure that they are protecting patient data integrity during these visits. Let’s see how accurate patient identification can help.

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Telehealth’s rise

Telehealth isn’t anything new – it’s been in the healthcare space for quite some time now. Sadly, people were busy debating its pros and cons for years. However, 2020 will be remembered as the year of telehealth – its potential was showcased during the pandemic.

People praised its elimination of the physical barriers required for healthcare – people would be able to consult with their caregivers without having to worry about the novel coronavirus – a stable internet connection and a communication device are all they need. It enabled healthcare services to be continued at a time when social distancing was required – creating a win-win situation for all. Laws were relaxed regarding telehealth while providers and officials urged patients to use telehealth instead of coming for hospital visits. Quite naturally, the usage increased exponentially. Let’s take a look at an example – MUSC Health and its experience with telehealth. 

They used “virtual urgent care technology” – something that was initially created to provide patients with a way to be observed for non-critical cases, and converted that to screen potential COVID-19 patients. Moreover, they had the capabilities and resources to dramatically adapt tools to better fight the pandemic. They also enabled remote patient monitoring and a telesitter program as part of their approach, and they believe that telehealth is here to stay. Overall, healthcare providers in the past few months have observed that telehealth can be used to provide patient care while mitigating the risk of contracting COVID-19. 

Some stats regarding telehealth usage

The current stats are in line with the providers’ experiences with telehealth. McKinsey & Company stated that in 2019, a meager 11% of the U.S. patients were using telehealth. As of April 2020, 46% of the patients are using telehealth. Even healthcare providers witnessed around 50-175 times more patients using telehealth visits compared to the pre-pandemic period. However, one has to consider the risks associated with it just like with inpatient visits, for instance, patient data integrity, patient identification, and medical identity theft. 

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Patient data integrity must be ensured

It’s quite natural that some of the issues plaguing conventional healthcare might be seen during telehealth visits as well. One of the biggest challenges is preventing medical identity theft. 

Healthcare data breaches have been occurring more than ever, where most of the stolen patient data is sold off to fraudsters. They then assume the identities of the victims and use their healthcare services. This leads not only to billing the victims for services they never used but also corrupts the patient data – because the fraudsters’ data is saved in the victims’ medical records. Thus, patient data integrity is compromised in the process.

Experts believe that the pandemic will lead to increased numbers of medical identity theft cases. This is because patient data is not adequately protected by the majority of caregivers due to budgetary issues. Moreover, with the pandemic causing arguably the worst financial crisis healthcare has ever faced, providers need to consider every option in order to survive.

RightPatient ensures patient data integrity – even during telehealth visits

While healthcare data breaches are inevitable, medical identity theft can be prevented. One of the reasons why medical identity theft has become a major threat is because there is no proper patient identity verification system in place to prevent these crimes. Most of the patient identification systems use credentials – something that can be stolen or transferred. 

Fortunately, RightPatient can help prevent medical identity theft. It uses the thing that fraudsters or hackers cannot steal – patients’ visual likeness. Using a photo-based search engine, RightPatient matches the photos of the selfie provided during appointment scheduling with the patient’s driver’s license. Fraudsters are red-flagged immediately, preventing medical identity theft in real-time.

During inpatient visits, all the patients need to do is look at the camera – the platform matches the photo it takes with the one it saved during registration. This creates a safe, hygienic, and touchless environment for everyone involved – something which became more crucial than ever due to the pandemic.

RightPatient helps maintain patient data integrity by ensuring that the accurate medical record is associated with the correct patient every time, preventing medical identity theft, and avoiding duplicate medical records. Try RightPatient now to see how it can help you enhance patient safety during these trying times.

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Top Reasons for Using a Robust Patient Identification Platform

Even though the novel coronavirus and its effects are dominating headlines (as well as our social lives and safety), patient identification issues have not been far behind. Those who are up to date with the U.S. healthcare system know that the UPI (unique patient identifier) has been trending once again – healthcare leaders across the states are urging lawmakers to lift the ban this year as well. While the future is uncertain due to COVID-19, even if the ban is lifted and the UPI created, providers would need to couple it with a robust patient identification platform such as RightPatient. Let’s take a look at why such a platform would be perfect for patient identification, with or without the UPI.

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It eliminates risks associated with contact-based patient identification platforms

There are many patient identification platforms available – we’ve talked about them several times. However, the responsible healthcare providers always choose touchless platforms as they don’t have the problems associated with touch-based patient identification systems – let’s take a precise look at what those are.

Patients have to touch the devices while using most patient identification systems. Naturally, this would entail concerns regarding infection control – these are used within the premises of healthcare providers who serve the sick, after all. Thus, there’s quite a high chance that one patient can unwittingly infect others when they verify their identity using such systems.

One unfeasible remedy to avoid infection control issues would be to clean the devices after every verification – imagine the administrative nightmare! Thus, even if these systems are accurate (fingerprint scanning, for instance), they are not at all suitable for such environments housing cases that may potentially lead to infection control issues.

Secondly, since these are contact-based, many, if not all the patients, would be reluctant to touch these devices. In the post-pandemic world, almost everyone is well-informed about how dangerous contact-based solutions can be. Thus, the COVID-19 crisis has rendered even accurate touch-based solutions ineffective as patient acceptance rates would be significantly lower now. 

Thankfully, touchless patient identification eliminates all these issues – more on that later.

A robust patient identification platform helps avoid duplicate records and overlays

Since we’ve already established that touchless patient identification is the only feasible choice in a post-COVID-19 world, let’s look at the other proven benefits of such a system, starting with duplicate medical records.

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Whenever a healthcare provider uses an obsolete patient identification platform (the most common one being asking patients questions), they’re bound to get confused when seeing the multiple medical records assigned to the single patient. They have to dig through them to find the accurate and most up to date one each time the patient arrives. In some cases, they might even create a new record just to avoid the hectic procedure – adding another duplicate record into the mix. These lead to delayed patient care, compromised patient safety, and impact healthcare outcomes. 

Overlays are even more dangerous – these are the merging of medical records of the same or different patients. Imagine being treated with someone else’s medical history – the treatment will be botched right from the start.

A robust patient identification system, however, can avoid such issues. By ensuring that the correct medical record is identified every time across the care continuum, duplicate records and overlays are avoided as well as the issues associated with them.

It prevents medical identity theft

One of the bigger healthcare concerns is data breaches that ultimately lead to medical identity theft. After buying the stolen patient information from hackers, the fraudsters use that to bypass obsolete patient identification systems and gain unauthorized access to medicine, treatment, and expensive medical devices. However, robust patient identification systems like RightPatient can prevent medical identity theft in real-time. When the fraudster has to verify their identity, the identification platform red flags them upon detecting that the fraudster’s photo and the photo in the medical record saved by RightPatient don’t match. Thus, patients and providers are protected from the consequences of medical identity theft, even if the data is breached, thanks to positive patient identification.

It ensures that you send out proper e-notifications

Healthcare providers will require software that supports e-notifications to patients’ other caregivers beginning May 1st, 2021, as per the CMS. This system is designed to promote interoperability and ensure proper care coordination.

However, to send out e-notifications to the appropriate caregivers, the hospital needs to ensure that they are identifying the proper patient first. Otherwise, the hospital might end up sending alerts to the wrong caregiver or information about the wrong patient. This can easily be avoided if a proper patient identity verification system is in place. 

RightPatient does all of the above – and more

RightPatient is the leading patient identification solution used by forward-thinking caregivers. Healthcare providers who are currently using RightPatient don’t need to think about infection control issues now – they thought about it before COVID-19. It uses photos of patients to identify their records. Patients take a selfie and a photo of their driver’s license after appointment scheduling. RightPatient checks the selfie and the driver’s license to ensure a proper match. During hospital visits, patients enrolled under RightPatient only need to look at the camera – the platform finds the appropriate record within seconds. If fraudsters try to assume a user’s identity, it red flags them, preventing medical identity theft in the process.

Contact us now to see how we are helping leading providers like TGMC, CHSLI, and Grady Health.

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Patient Safety and Quality Healthcare Require Patient Identification During the Pandemic

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

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The importance of patient identification according to experts

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

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

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

Patient safety and quality healthcare depend on identifying patients

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

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

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

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

Experts are urging for the UPI once again

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

Patient safety and quality healthcare require RightPatient

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

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How Many Patient Identifiers Should be Used to Ensure Patient Safety?

The US healthcare system has always been plagued by a number of issues. One very common but often overlooked issue is that of patient identification errors. Misidentification cases continue to be quite prevalent while there continues to be a ban on the creation of a state-funded Universal Patient Identifier (UPI). While debate continues around the risks and rewards involved with a UPI, one should also be asking about its efficacy. How many patient identifiers should be used to prevent patient safety issues? Will a UPI be enough to solve this colossal challenge?

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UPI’s history in a nutshell

Since the idea for a unique patient identifier was formed, it’s seen constant criticism and opposition, resulting in a ban that’s lasted for around two decades. Last year, healthcare organizations came pretty close to finally having the ban removed when the US House of Representatives voted to repeal the ban. However, the ban is still in effect with the legislation failing to gain approval in the Senate.

As for the future of the UPI, let’s look at its past. It has not been funded for around two decades due to issues like privacy concerns and growing data breach incidents that could seriously jeopardize patient safety and privacy. Thus, chances are high that the future may not be kind to the creation of a state-funded UPI.

Lack of effective patient identification is felt throughout healthcare

The absence of reliable patient identification is widely felt throughout hospitals and health systems. Patient safety issues and patient data integrity failures are just some of the many issues associated with patient misidentification. However, a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic clearly highlighted the importance of proper patient identification, impeding the ability of caregivers to provide healthcare services quickly and effectively without access to holistic patient information. Since the pandemic started, healthcare staff on the frontlines have been learning that the hard way.

Many experts are even thinking that this might be the time the UPI will finally be realized. But will it be enough? How many patient identifiers should be used to make sure it’s safe for patients and effective for providers? Fortunately, our Co-Founder, Michael Trader, has a comprehensive answer.

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How many patient identifiers should be used?

Mr. Trader has stated that it’s crucial to find balance regarding a UPI and it’s equally important to establish an infrastructure that can house the UPI securely – only identifying patients accurately is not enough. Furthermore, the creation of duplicate medical records and overlays need to be prevented – they are some of the many issues that significantly hinder patient matching.

Mr. Trader adds that while the UPI will have benefits such as better interoperability as providers can share patient data more reliably, it will not mitigate issues such as duplicates, overlays, and medical identity theft. How many patient identifiers should be used, then?

Mr. Trader stated that instead of relying solely on the UPI, responsible providers will pair it with another identification system, and preferably one that is tried and tested. Linking the UPI to a photo-based biometric patient identification platform comes to mind. This touchless solution can be scaled across all encounter touch points, even enabling patients to utilize their own smartphones, making it the ideal solution in our post-pandemic world. With such a combination, patient misidentifications can be eliminated.

For years, patient misidentification has been a persistent problem for patients and caregivers alike. Providers need to eliminate misidentification as soon as possible, with or without the UPI. After all, it’s a single mistake that can cause severe consequences for both providers and patients. Fortunately, RightPatient can help providers avoid such unwanted cases. 

With its photo-based patient identification platform, RightPatient has been identifying patients accurately for years. Leading and responsible providers have chosen RightPatient instead of waiting for the UPI – they know the effects of patient identification errors better than anyone else. Thus, if the UPI is created, responsible leaders will be coupling it with the leading patient identification platform, ensuring interoperability, accurate patient identification, and reliable patient data exchanges.

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Dirty Patient Data Can Have Severe Consequences for Healthcare Providers

The US healthcare system has always been facing problems that stopped it from realizing its full potential. These issues are longstanding barriers to providing immaculate healthcare services to patients, and thus affect healthcare outcomes for all involved. One of these issues has been the “dirty” patient data accumulating within EHR systems over the years. With the COVID-19 pandemic causing even more issues like the unprecedented financial strain, layoffs, restructuring and so on, providers need to ensure that the patient information within their facilities is accurate, consistent and relevant. Let’s look at what unclean patient data is, how it affects patients and providers and how RightPatient can ensure the cleanest patient data with accurate patient identification.

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Patient data

A brief definition

In the simplest terms, patient data refers to a single patient’s medical information – medications, medical history, vitals, illnesses and so on. Such data is critical in making informed decisions regarding the patient in question. What should be the current or future course of action and how to best handle the needs of the patient are some common examples.

From the explanation, it is clear why clean patient data is important for both caregivers and their recipients. Let’s look at the other side of the coin: dirty data.

“Dirty” patient information

By now, it should be quite clear what dirty data means. Whenever the data is inaccurate, incomplete, inconsistent, obsolete or corrupt, it is considered “dirty”. Unclean patient data can lead to a lot of problems for any given healthcare provider. It impacts everyday operations, makes effective data sharing difficult and impacts healthcare outcomes, among other issues. Let’s have a more detailed look at the common ones.

Effects of unclean patient data

Inaccuracy and inefficient operations

Imagine if a patient goes to their healthcare provider for a checkup. The registrar types in the patient’s name: several medical records pop up on the screen, all pertaining to the same patient. Understandably, this can confuse the registrar. They are faced with a difficult choice: either go through all the patient records and find out the accurate one or create a new one entirely. The former case will take up a lot of time, while the latter will just create another duplicate medical record within the system. Both of these are consequences of having unclean data within the system.

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Huge losses

According to Gartner, unclean data can cost an organization anywhere from $9.7 to $14.2 million. For US healthcare providers, however, it’s an entirely different figure. AHIMA stated that duplicate medical records can cost up to $40 million for any given provider, while a health system having several facilities can house up to 20% duplicate records.

Imagine if a patient is treated with another patient’s medical information. When the record holder gets the bill for services they did not use, they’ll simply contact their insurance provider regarding the matter. This will lead to a denied claim. Thus, inaccurate data can lead to denied claims as well – costing around $4.9 million on average for the average health system.

Patient safety is compromised

One of the biggest issues of unclean data is that it impacts patient safety. One patient will receive inaccurate and even dangerous treatment because they are being treated based on an entirely different patient’s medical record. Even if it is the same patient, if there are multiple records under their name, each record will have inconsistent and incomplete information about the patient, leading to improper care, medications and procedures. All in all, healthcare outcomes will not be as expected as patient safety and quality of care is jeopardized severely. This can affect a provider’s ratings as well. Patients will not be happy if they are not receiving unreliable healthcare services. Thus, clean data is critical to improving quality and safety in healthcare.

Non-compliance issues

This one is quite new. However, most healthcare providers know this and are working on it: e-notifications support.

The CMS rule mandates that all caregivers having EHR systems must ensure they support e-notifications by May 1st, 2021. During any ADT event, the provider needs to send e-notifications to the patient’s caregivers, whether they be established primary care practitioners, post-acute providers & suppliers or any other entity primarily responsible for the patient’s care. This is done to boost positive healthcare outcomes and improve care coordination. If the data is unclean, providers will end up sending false alerts either to the wrong provider or the wrong patient.

In any case, unclean data will cause non-compliance issues, penalties and might even jeopardize CMS provider agreements.

Lower ROI

Health systems and hospitals have been investing significantly in population health management, big data, analytics and similar projects they find promising. The efficacy of these systems depends on high-quality data being fed into them. When data is corrupted due to duplicate and overlay records, those investments are diluted, leading to lower ROI. 

Keep patient data clean with RightPatient

One of the best ways to ensure that patient data integrity is maintained is by identifying the accurate patient record from the get-go. That’s where we can help.

RightPatient is the leading patient identification platform that ensures data integrity is maintained within EHRs. It is a touchless, photo-based platform used by leading healthcare providers. 

By making sure that you identify your patients accurately every time, you can avoid duplicate medical records, prevent medical identity theft, eliminate financial issues related to dirty data, improve patient safety and quality of care. Also, you can send out proper e-notifications to the accurate caregivers, eliminating any non-compliance penalties.

By ensuring accurate and consistent data that can be used by the aforementioned investments (population health management, big data, analytics, etc.), RightPatient improves ROI for healthcare providers, creating a win-win scenario for everyone.

Contact us now to know how RightPatient works and how we can help you ensure the cleanest data via positive patient identification.

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CMS Compliance Requires Identifying Patients Correctly – Are you Ensuring it? 

From the title, it is quite clear what this is about. The changes made to the Medicare CoPs (conditions of participation) have attracted attention within the US healthcare system, especially after the introduction of mandatory e-notifications during every ADT (admission, discharge, or transfer) of a patient. While providers are more focused on e-notifications, most of them forget about one very important prerequisite: identifying patients correctly. While we have already touched upon the topic regarding CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) Interoperability & Patient Access Final Rule, this time, we will focus more on the practical aspects and how patient identification is a crucial component that is absolutely necessary for e-notifications to work properly as well as CMS compliance. Without further ado, let’s dive deeper into the topic at hand.

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A brief refresher

A few changes have been made regarding the CMS Interoperability & Patient Access Final Rule. As the name suggests, it has been done to boost interoperability efforts within the caregivers of the patients. Let us look at why it is required within the healthcare system.

There are many cases where a patient is not restricted to a single healthcare provider;  especially if they have complications, multiple ailments and so on. Such patients need to visit and consult with multiple healthcare providers in order to receive the best patient care. For this to be effective, caregivers need to have access to the patient’s medical record, history, medications, vitals and other necessary information. In order to make the caregiving process seamless and boost interoperability, the Final Rule was introduced.

The “companion final rule” states that e-notifications must be sent out by healthcare providers (such as acute care, psychiatric, critical access providers, etc.) during every ADT to the appropriate recipients, i.e., the other caregivers (post-acute providers & suppliers, established primary care practitioners, or any other entity primarily responsible for the patient’s care). This rule applies to inpatient admissions as well as ED admissions. 

Who needs to ensure it?

Applicable healthcare providers are those who use digital medical records like EMR or EHR systems. They need to ensure compliance and have proper systems set up by May 1, 2021 so that they can send out e-notifications during ADTs. 

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While that’s a succinct summary of the most recent change in the CoPs, every healthcare provider needs to ensure that they are sending out e-notifications. Otherwise, they can face undesirable consequences such as receiving penalties for non-compliance, or worse, jeopardizing their CMS provider agreements. But how is identifying patients correctly related to CMS compliance regarding e-notifications?

Identifying patients correctly is required for CMS compliance

As previously mentioned, the CMS rule requires healthcare providers to send out notifications during ADTs. But there’s a catch.

Identifying patients correctly is quite important for e-notifications to work. Think about it: if a patient is not accurately recognized or is misidentified as a different patient, the healthcare provider risks sending alerts to the wrong caregivers. Worst of all, the provider risks that they won’t be able to answer alerts other caregivers are requesting.

Without a reliable way to identify patients, things can escalate quickly. If a provider cannot fulfill alert requests or sends too many incorrect alerts, care coordination teams will start to lose faith and miss opportunities to improve patient outcomes. Noncompliance will also incur CMS penalties, which can result in hefty fines. After COVID-19, nobody can afford such costs.

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While healthcare providers are busying themselves by deciding how to best implement e-notifications, they should also assess the effectiveness of their patient identity matching systems. Clearly, the former is dependent on the latter. Those who are struggling with patient identification need to upgrade their systems to futureproof, easy-to-use and hygienic ones. 

RightPatient helps identify patients correctly

We ensure that patients are always identified correctly with our industry-leading touchless biometric patient identification platform.

How it works

After making an appointment, patients receive an SMS or email to validate their identity. During this process, the patient takes a photo of their driver’s license and a selfie. RightPatient automatically matches the selfie photo with the photo on the driver’s license to ensure a proper identity match. If the patient is not already in the system, RightPatient assigns biometric credentials to the new patient.

This is how we prevent patients from registering under a different identity or medical record mix-ups. There’s no need to worry about name changes, mistakes when entering a patient’s name or other common issues. Patients are recognized with their selfies.

We have been helping prominent health systems like TGMC, CMC and CHSLI fight the battle against patient misidentification for years. With RightPatient, responsible healthcare providers can send e-notifications and comply with CMS without worrying about faulty alerts.

If we haven’t convinced you by now, why don’t you try our free trial? No gimmicks – it’s really free!