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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!

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Providers Must Protect Patient Information to Enhance Patient Trust

The US healthcare system has always been the one attracting attention for all the wrong reasons – it is inundated with a plethora of issues. Lack of price transparency, interoperability issues, lack of proper patient identification, archaic laws governing the overall system, and prevalent medical identity theft cases are just some of the many problems that plague providers and prevent them from giving optimal patient care. One of the more prominent problems faced is healthcare data breaches – something that happens regularly nowadays. With the pandemic in mind, healthcare providers need to do all they can to enhance patient trust and improve patient safety – something they can do if they protect patient information. This is critical because it will boost inpatient volumes and can help offset the ongoing losses due to COVID-19. Let’s see how RightPatient can help by ensuring accurate patient identity verification.

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What does the data say?

A recently released study by the Journal of General Internal Medicine has shed some light on patients’ perceptions about their EHR security and privacy.

According to the report:

  • The respondents who fear that their EHRs will be jeopardized due to a cybersecurity incident are three times more likely to hold back information from their caregivers, compared to those who do not share the same feeling, especially during the transmission of said EHRs electronically. 
  • Out of the respondents who trusted that their EHRs were safe and secure, chances of concealing information from their providers were around half compared to those who had privacy concerns.
  • Older, married, and employed patients were less likely to withhold information.

This study was conducted with keeping the growth of telehealth in mind and how a lack of patient trust will cause problems, especially during the pandemic. Thus, healthcare providers need to rethink their strategies and boost patient confidence. Not only will it help provide better healthcare services, but it will also increase patient retention – patients will not switch to other caregivers if they see that their providers protect patient information effectively.

Protect patient information by ensuring compliance

With the electronic transmission of PHI (protected health information), HIPAA compliance is the first thing that pops up on the minds of providers. The aforementioned study suggests the same: providers should address patients’ concerns by addressing security gaps. This can be done by providing proper training for internal data breaches and do’s and don’ts during PHI transmission, conducting internal audits to detect security issues, and keeping relevant employees on the same page regarding HIPAA compliance. HIPAA Ready is a robust HIPAA compliance software that can address all that and more, helping you protect patient information in the process. Simplify HIPAA compliance and reduce your administrative burdens with HIPAA Ready.

RightPatient helps protect patient information

RightPatient has been helping to protect patient data for years now. Moreover, even if you face a data breach, you can still safeguard patient information. Here’s how it works.

Once a provider deploys RightPatient, patients receive an SMS or email to validate their identity after scheduling an appointment. The patient provides a selfie and a photo of their driver’s license, and RightPatient matches the photos to ensure a proper match. Patients new to the platform are provided with new biometric credentials.Protect-patient-data-by-ensuring-accurate-patient-identification

 During inpatient visits, all patients need to do is look at the camera. The platform identifies them by matching the photos, ensuring accurate patient identification.

Another reason why RightPatient is a must

The aforementioned study is also related to the updated Medicare CoPs. Since the study talks about sending EHRs to other caregivers, the recently introduced e-notifications come to mind. With the looming CMS compliance deadline (May 1st, 2021), healthcare providers need to ensure accurate patient identification so that they can send out accurate e-notifications during ADTs. If they fail to send out notifications to the proper channels, it can cause noncompliance issues and can risk their CMS provider agreements. RightPatient is a must-have solution to avoid such cases and ensure that the proper caregivers are notified.

Contact us now to know how we can help you achieve your goals.

A-proper-patient-identification-protocol-including-RightPatient-can-mitigate-losses

A Futureproof Patient Identification Protocol Can Help Mitigate Providers’ Losses

COVID-19 has been one of the biggest catastrophes to hit the world in modern times. There is literally no aspect of our lives it didn’t affect. Unfortunately, it will continue to affect us – experts are saying that the second wave is already here in the US. However, healthcare providers are still reeling from the ongoing surge of COVID-19 patients as well as the unprecedented losses faced due to the pandemic. With hospitals and health systems having to make hard choices like laying off employees, introducing pay cuts, and furloughing employees, is there any way to mitigate the losses? Yes, there are many, but the most sensible choice for providers would be to adopt a futureproof patient identification protocol like RightPatient. Let’s explore further.

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Hospitals expected to lose $323 billion in 2020!

And that is apparently an understatement. Losses might even exceed $323 billion, depending on the inevitable surges during the rest of the year as well as the increasing number of cases in some specific states.

The breakdown

During the final half of the year 2020, hospitals are set to lose at least $120.5 billion, especially due to lower inpatient visits, whereas an estimated $202.6 billion has been lost between March and June, according to AHA.

COVID-19 has affected all industries in the US, but its healthcare system is clearly the one it hit the worst – $323 billion is no small number. Since the pandemic started, hospitals had to reprioritize to deal with the surge of COVID-19 patients. Healthcare providers canceled elective procedures and non-COVID-19 patients were advised to use telehealth, reducing inpatient visits and leading to most of the financial losses.

Moreover, COVID-19 is causing hospitals to face higher expenses. PPE and ventilators, for instance, were not used as extensively prior to the pandemic. As previously mentioned, providers had to lay off employees, furlough them, or reduce their salaries, while others were even forced to close down due to the financial strain. Let’s look at some of the recent victims.

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Some recent victims

BRMC (Bluefield Regional Medical Center) will be permanently closing down by July 30th, 2020. Financial damages due to the pandemic, lower patient volumes, and reimbursement rates were contributing factors that forced the officials to make this tough decision.

Saint Luke’s Health System will permanently close the doors of its Cushing Hospital in Kansas on October 1st, after closing down its inpatient unit on July 17th – another victim of COVID-19.

HealthPartners will shut down seven clinics and has stated that it will lay off 200 employees at two of those seven facilities. This, too, is because of the financial pressure brought by the pandemic. 

Suffering from financial challenges tied to the pandemic, UW Medicine will lay off 100 employees. This comes after it has already furloughed 4000 unionized employees and 1500 non-union ones. It has also received around $180 million in provider relief funding, but sadly, it looks like that will not be enough to offset the damages caused by COVID-19.

These are just some of the numerous cases that show the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on healthcare providers and how the pandemic is forcing them to make tough choices. Sadly, we are only halfway through this pandemic-driven year – we do not know what’s in store for us. 

Healthcare providers need to reduce costs significantly in order to survive this challenging phase – perhaps the most challenging one they have ever faced. So, is there anything that can help them mitigate their costs? 

An effective patient identification protocol can help

While healthcare providers are searching desperately for ways to reduce their costs, they can do so by preventing medical identity theft, avoiding duplicate medical records, and preventing patient identification errors. All they need to do is upgrade their patient identification protocol.

Before doing that, healthcare providers need to evaluate their current patient identification protocols.

  • Is it ensuring accurate patient identification across the care continuum?

  • Is it preventing medical identity theft?

  • Is it preventing duplicate record creation?

  • Is it ensuring a hygienic environment for patients and employees?

  • Does it have a high acceptance rate among patients?

  • Is it futureproof?

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If even one of the answers to the questions listed above is no, then providers seriously need to upgrade their patient identity matching systems within their facilities. This is where RightPatient can help hospitals and health systems to reduce their losses and improve patient identification.

Achieve accurate patient identification with RightPatient

RightPatient is a photo-based patient identification platform that checks all the boxes for being an effective patient identifier. During registration, the platform locks the medical records of the patients with their photos. Returning patients simply look at the camera and are identified by the platform within seconds – providing the EHR user with accurate medical records. It also prevents medical identity theft, as fraudsters are red-flagged when they face the robust verification process. 

RightPatient prevents duplicate record creation, reduces denied claims, and prevents avoidable medical errors in the process to enhance patient safety.

Even before the pandemic, responsible healthcare leaders chose RightPatient because its touchless platform eliminated any chances of infection control issues during its usage – something that other conventional patient identifiers do not possess. RightPatient has over 99% patient acceptance rate – it provides a seamless, hygienic, and easy way for ensuring proper identification, improving patient safety and quality of care

The pandemic requires providers to switch to a touchless patient identifier and reduce healthcare costs significantly – try RightPatient now and experience the difference it makes.

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EHRs: Why are physicians and patients dissatisfied with them?

Electronic health records (EHRs) are supposed to make things easier for doctors, improve health outcomes for patients, and create a better experience for everyone. However, most research indicates the opposite. There is a high level of EHR dissatisfaction among practitioners and the impact on patient experience has been underwhelming. So, what has gone wrong?

RightPatient-eliminates-patient-identification-errorsWhen EHR system use became mandated, clinicians were expected to experience initial growing pains as they were forced to learn new skills. However, as comfort levels grew, their perceptions were expected to change over time, resulting in better communication and care. Unfortunately, doctors are still complaining about EHRs even after several years of widespread implementation and use. In fact, research shows that EHRs have become a major contributing factor to physician burnout.

The aforementioned Mayo Clinic Proceedings study also found that as many as 84.5% of physicians are using EHRs and the majority of them are not satisfied. Most physicians feel that EHRs are inefficient and require too much manual data entry where time is spent on clerical tasks rather than patient interactions.

Likewise, patients are also not satisfied with EHRs as they notice doctors spending more time looking at the computer screen during their visits. Research shows that gaze time (amount of time the doctor looks at the patient) is directly related to patient satisfaction.

Apart from data entry issues, a RAND study identified many other reasons for EHR dissatisfaction among physicians. For example, most physicians agreed that EHR interfaces were not intuitive, thus hampering their workflow instead of augmenting it. They also complain that EHRs are not implemented well enough to facilitate the proper exchange of information. Many physicians feel overloaded with irrelevant information.

Doctors also noticed that templates provided with EHR systems degraded the quality of their reports. Even more worrisome is that most physicians found that EHRs are not improving over time. 

Undoubtedly, these studies indicate the need for a system update and technology that frees doctors from having to spend time on routine clerical or data entry tasks. This technology would ideally enable clinicians to focus on their primary responsibility – carefully listening to, observing, and getting to know their patients so they can provide the highest level of care.

This is where RightPatient can help by providing an AI system that automatically identifies patients when they arrive and then engages with them to collect useful information that is pushed into the EHR system. This enables clinicians to understand much more about a patient’s condition while reducing their data entry burden. With RightPatient, doctors receive concise, relevant, and real-time information regarding their patients to save time, increase efficiency, and improve the patient experience.

EHRs

8 Misconceptions About EHRs That Must Be Dispelled

8 Misconceptions About EHRs That Must Be Dispelled

Despite the rising power of electronic health record systems (EHRs), they are still widely misunderstood and often misused.

The following guest post on dispelling the myths of EHRs was submitted by Andrea Bell.

Health records, whether electronic or paper-based, are an essential record-keeping tool that supports clinical decision-making at every level of diagnosis and treatment. Concerns about patient privacy and confidentiality are nothing new. The privacy matters of patients’ are as old as the practice of medicine itself.

When it comes to electronic health records of patients, privacy is always top of the list. Tablets, smartphones, and web-enabled devices have totally transformed our daily lives and the way we communicate. The healthcare industry is carefully trying to manage technological innovations and patient’s health records through computerized systems. Individuals and healthcare professionals are working in close collaboration with each other to make health data safer and accessible in order to enhance systems of treatment for patients.

Electronic health record data banks have stronger prospects for transforming the health care industry. These new systems can provide an extensive amount of information related to the patients’ medical history in a few clicks, thereby completely doing away with obsolete paper systems that delay treatment and diagnoses.

This new tool now helps staffers to process patient record-keeping more promptly than ever before. This swift service was not possible with paper-based systems where administrative officials had to search through piles of files for patient records.

Despite the several intelligent and easy uses of EHRs, there are a couple of misconceptions about the technology and debates about its functionality. Here we have tried to dispel the 8 common myths and misconceptions about EHRs.

1. Electronic health records software is less efficient as compared to paper-based systems

Many practices take great pride in adopting new technologies, but one needs to realize that it’s important to know that paper-based systems are simply less efficient than electronic systems. Its very easy to have access to patient health record information, and you can streamline workflow in general by automating patient records.

2. EHR systems are expensive

Since electronic health records have continued to progress and mature, they have also been developed for a wide variety of uses; from leading government hospitals to part-time private clinics, and everyone else in the field of medicine. With the growing change in needs, there are variations in the cost of an EHR, the quality of software and functionality. Based on the size of your practice and patient turn-over, you are most likely to find an option that perfectly suits your needs as well as your budget.

3. Once you install an EHR system, it can be used without training

Installing a new EHR system at your hospital or private practice is no guarantee that your employees or team members will start doing their jobs more efficiently or process patients more swiftly. Anyone who says they can use the system without elementary training, should be observed carefully. While some EHR systems are relatively easy to learn than others, it’s important to ensure that some basic training is provided to staffers so that they become proficient at using this system. And once you and the team become acquainted with EHR, the efficiencies will increase while redundancies will decrease.

4. EHR software makes communications between patients and employees unfriendly and mechanical

This myth that the staff, providers or other healthcare professionals entering data or transcribing text into an EHR system seems mechanical and ‘cold’ to patients and comes at the risk of deteriorating relations between the two couldn’t be further from the truth.

It can in fact be the other way around. Patients should be made to understand and appreciate at the same time that using an EHR helps secure their medical information minus the errors. In fact, it’s worth a short discussion to let the patient know how much the EHR will help them in terms of safe and secure information, there will be little or no chance of missing charts, flipping test results or anything similar.

Patients should be educated on how the EHR helps avert possible disasters in the event of fire or theft. It has been observed that medical practices nowadays post on their websites and have printed information available that the practice uses an EHR, and why its use is beneficial for patients.

5. EHR systems are a hindrance to accomplishing work

You can say that at one point a decade ago, EHRs may not have been very user-friendly, or designed for specific industries. But EHR technology has traveled a long way and is typically very easy to understand and use, and greatly helps in reducing administrative workload.

Electronic health record systems can save a lot of time from your workday by putting every minute detail from clinical files at your fingertips, while also increasing efficiency, reducing errors, and letting you work anytime and from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection.

6. EHR systems are difficult to use

With the boom of electronic medical records, there were EHR systems that were quite difficult and technical to navigate for a layman. However, as the field has progressed, significant improvements have been made in this area. If we go back a decade, the vast majority of electronic health record systems were designed specifically for medical fields or for hospital settings and people who used these systems were aggressively trained.

Since then things have changed significantly. EHR systems are now being designed for different industries such as eye care, chiropractic care, and mental health. Technology is evolving at a remarkable pace and it continues to improve the user-friendliness of EHR systems, and there is a focus on intuitive and easy-to-use navigation in the latest EHR systems.

7. Physicians will be reluctant to learn and adopt a new system

The notion that practitioners or healthcare providers can only be categorized in one of two extremes when it comes to electronic health records, isn’t right. There were a few early adopters of the system who saw its potential, implemented the systems and dealt with the initial trials and errors, and on the other hand, there are also those few who would prefer realy retirement over using a new electronic system.

However, the biggest chunk of healthcare providers falls in the middle category because, at the end of the day, they have practices to run and patients to see. EHRs can’t be a barrier because there’s simply too much work to be done. So the expression that an old dog learning new tricks does not really apply to providers and physicians because their business constantly requires from them to learn new techniques, therapies, and approaches and EHR is one of them.

8. EHR systems cannot be customized for every practice

A lot of healthcare organizations and practitioners who have already implemented an EHR system say it doesn’t really matter what specialty any physician is in. Everyone has different ways of approaching the practice of medicine, but the very basics of clinical medicine are the same around the world. EHRs do require some level of customization for each health care organization and physician, and it is very much possible to do so.

Conclusion

With accurate information and logical reasoning, it’s easy to get over the misconceptions that usually circulate when implementing electronic health records software at government based healthcare organizations or private practices. Similarly, is it also a misleading fact that IT departments in healthcare organizations deploy a software just for the heck of it or just because it is the talk of the town in terms of latest technology. Therefore, with these 8 major misconceptions dispelled, I am sure there will be less ambiguity about electronic health record systems.

8 Misconceptions About EHRs That Must Be DispelledAndrea Bell is a Freelance writer and a content contributor at www.computermateinc.com, which provides Medisoft V21 software. She writes mostly on technology related stuff. Live simply, give generously and a sports lover. Find her on twitter @IM_AndreaBell