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Healthcare Data Breach Cases Lead to Medical Identity Theft – How Are You Protecting Patients?

Anyone who knows about the US healthcare system also knows that it has always been riddled with issues, even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Astronomical costs, the lack of price transparency, and the insurance system are not the only problems. Poor healthcare outcomes, preventable medical errors, medical identity theft, duplicate medical records, and lack of interoperability also plague healthcare facilities across all states. While we have covered many of these topics at one point or another, this time we will focus on healthcare data breach cases. Let’s take a closer look at recent healthcare data breaches, why providers are being targeted so frequently, how they generate medical identity theft, and how healthcare providers can protect patient data even after breaches.

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Healthcare data breaches are becoming increasingly common

When the pandemic hit the US healthcare system, many hackers had pledged that they won’t attack healthcare providers and steal patient information – something that was unprecedented. However, not all of the hackers shared the same mindset, and there have been many healthcare data breach cases over the past few months. As a result, healthcare providers are having to fight multiple battles at the same time. Let’s review two of the recent attacks.

UHS reportedly suffered a huge breach

Pennsylvania-based Universal Health Services, a health system that consists of 26 hospitals, suffered a breach. On the 30th of September, they stated that some of the systems had been recovered. While there are no specifics as to how many patients were affected, the health system was forced to go offline on all of its locations to reduce the risks. However, it is working tirelessly to restore the affected systems.

Ashtabula County Medical Center

The Ohio-based medical center also suffered a cybersecurity attack on the 27th of September which forced it to cancel procedures.

What are healthcare providers saying regarding data breaches?

Many are stating that healthcare data breach cases are becoming quite common and they need better cybersecurity measures to reduce these unwanted events. While cybersecurity has always been a concern of CIOs and IT leaders, the budgets don’t allow them to realize their visions of having breach-free health systems. Moreover, they are expecting even more data breaches in the future, as they don’t see data breaches going away anytime soon. Sadly, the problems do not end here.

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Healthcare data breaches generate medical identity theft

Data breaches are huge nightmares for any healthcare provider. The worst part is that they’re inevitable, and even the biggest health systems can be vulnerable – hackers are constantly uncovering new strategies to attack and steal patient information. 

After stealing the patient information, fraudsters buy it from the black market and they assume the identities of the patients. Not many healthcare providers have effective patient identity management systems, so scammers can easily pass themselves off as the patients, since they have their credentials. If providers use effective patient identification platforms, they can prevent medical identity theft in real-time. Thus, while data breaches are inevitable and, without proper cybersecurity measures, unavoidable, medical identity theft can be prevented.

RightPatient mitigates the losses associated with data breaches

Using a robust photo-based engine, RightPatient ensures accurate patient identification using the feature fraudsters or hackers cannot steal or imitate: patients’ faces. 

The platform can also identify patients right from appointment scheduling – patients are asked for a personal photo and a photo of their driver’s license after scheduling an appointment. After patients provide the photos, RightPatient matches the photos to verify the patient’s identity to see if they are who they say they are. If a fraudster is assuming the identity, RightPatient red-flags the anomaly, preventing medical identity theft in real-time. New patients are provided with biometric credentials, making it a seamless process.

If the patients are coming in person to the healthcare facilities, all they need to do is look at the camera. RightPatient matches the new photo with the saved one – if it’s a scammer, RightPatient red-flags the incident, preventing medical identity theft. It ensures a touchless and hygienic environment for everyone, something that is mandatory in a post-pandemic world.

RightPatient is enhancing patient safety, protecting patient data from being corrupted, and improving healthcare outcomes. Mitigate your losses, prevent medical identity theft, and enhance patient safety now with RightPatient.

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Medical Identity Theft Prevention Becomes Crucial as Telehealth Usage Rises

The novel coronavirus, infamously known as COVID-19, is a phenomenon that has changed our lives forever. Wearing masks, using sanitizers, and practicing social distancing has become a part of our daily lives, especially for those who need to leave their houses every day. It has disrupted business operations and even forced many into bankruptcy, causing businesses to shut down. One of the most affected industries is healthcare, and it is safe to say that the US healthcare system has been severely affected by the pandemic. Hospitals have shut down, and those that are open are facing unprecedented losses. However, telehealth has experienced a meteoric rise in both popularity and usage. While more patients and caregivers are adopting telehealth, healthcare providers need to ensure that such visits are not plagued with medical identity theft cases. Let’s take a look at the rapid rise of telehealth, how people are adapting to it, and how medical identity theft prevention can be ensured with RightPatient.

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Telehealth is becoming mainstream

Let’s take a look at a recent survey by Amwell. The research sheds light on the fact that patients and caregivers are far more open to using telehealth now compared to the pre-pandemic period. The numbers clearly illustrate this: in 2019, 8% of patients and 22% of caregivers had virtual sessions, whereas in 2020, the number is around 22% for patients and a whopping 80% for caregivers. This is predominantly because the pandemic forced hospitals to shift their focus to the COVID-19 patients, leaving others with the option to get treated via virtual sessions rather than inpatient visits.

Some of the key findings from the study regarding telehealth are:

More scheduled virtual visits compared to urgent care visits

According to the survey, patients leaned towards scheduled virtual visits compared to urgent care visits. 54% of patients had scheduled virtual visits with their physicians, whereas 21% of patients who had at least a virtual visit had an urgent care visit as well during 2020.

Virtual specialty care is growing rapidly

Unsurprisingly, telehealth is being used by more patients every day. 42% of patients had virtual visits with their regular specialists, and 13% had virtual visits with new specialists this year. Moreover, specialists such as cardiologists, surgeons, and others stated that they had seen more patients virtually compared to 2019. This led to specialists being more open to telehealth as well – it was the only way to treat some patients due to COVID-19.

More patients were opting for telehealth

2020 had three times the number of patients using telehealth compared to 2019. 59% of the patients who used telehealth stated that their first usage was during the pandemic, and an overwhelming 91% of the patients were “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with the visits.

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Healthcare providers, on the other hand, said that they saw almost four times more patients this year compared to 2019, and 84% of providers were “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with the platforms. 

Medical identity theft prevention must be ensured

While all of the above statistics show that telehealth has a promising future ahead, it also has to ensure patient safety. There are many risks associated with conventional inpatient visits such as medical identity theft, patient misidentification, medical errors, and so on. While not all of these issues will bleed over to telehealth, many experts are predicting that telehealth might witness medical identity theft cases. Thus, responsible caregivers should ensure medical identity theft prevention to secure safe, undisrupted healthcare visits – for both virtual and inpatient visits.

How data breaches, medical identity theft, and telehealth are related

Healthcare data breaches are becoming common because hackers can steal patient information and sell it for up to $1000. Data breaches are endless nightmares for healthcare providers – causing HIPAA compliance issues, loss of goodwill, unwanted publicity, and finally, medical identity theft. Fraudsters buy the information from the hackers to assume the identities of the patients and use the victims’ healthcare services illegally. Since many healthcare providers don’t have robust patient identity verification systems, they are unable to identify the scammers. These are the cases that occur within healthcare facilities. 

Telehealth has been largely ignored in the pre-pandemic world. People were debating about its pros and cons, and since it didn’t provide the same level of flexibility as conventional healthcare, its future was uncertain. However, the pandemic changed the public’s perception regarding telehealth. As the statistics above demonstrated telehealth’s acceptance, experts have predicted that hackers and fraudsters will focus on it as well. If they acquire the login credentials of patients, fraudsters can also impersonate the victims during telehealth sessions, committing medical identity theft virtually. Thus, medical identity theft prevention becomes crucial.

RightPatient ensures medical identity theft prevention

Thankfully, healthcare providers can prevent medical identity theft with RightPatient. It is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that uses the faces of the patients to prevent healthcare fraud and protect patient data. With a powerful photo-based engine, RightPatient ensures that the patients are who they say they are. After scheduling appointments, patients receive an SMS or email and they need to provide a personal photo and a photo of their driver’s license to verify their identity. The platform automatically matches the photos, ensuring remote identity verification.

RightPatient ensures accurate patient identification across the continuum of care, starting right from appointment scheduling. During hospital visits, all the patient needs to do is look at the camera – the platform matches the current photo with the one saved during registration, creating a touchless, easy, and hygienic experience. RightPatient is preventing duplicate medical records, reducing claim denials, preventing medical identity theft, and enhancing patient safety for leading healthcare providers. Be a responsible provider and protect patient data with RightPatient now.

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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 Matching and Interoperability Are Ineffective Without Positive Patient Identification

The U.S. healthcare system has been inundated with several issues even before the pandemic. The lack of price transparency, medical identity theft, duplicate medical records, high costs, medical errors, and patient safety issues are just some of the issues plaguing providers. However, today’s focus is on another problem – the lack of interoperability. Many providers are thinking that interoperability will get a significant boost due to changes such as the 21st Century Cures Act and the CMS Interoperability and Patient Access Final Rule. While that might be true, many are overlooking the fact that it needs a particular component to work immaculately – patient matching. While some might believe that it is just a cog in the wheel, everything in healthcare heavily relies on accurate patient identification – without it, everything will go wrong.

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Let’s take a closer look at the rules, how they will boost interoperability, and why patient identification is crucial for interoperability to work.

The 21st Century Cures Act and Patient Matching

What it means

Several healthcare experts are quite content with the Cures Act, believing that it will usher in the era of true interoperability. In a nutshell, the implementation of certain provisions within the act will enhance interoperability and also support accessing, exchanging, and using electronic health information. What all this means is that patient data can be easily shared among caregivers, leading to better, more personalized care, as well as enhanced healthcare outcomes – but that’s only one side of the coin.

Interoperability requires more than the Cures Act

While the Act is a step in the right direction, interoperability won’t be successful solely because of it – other factors need to be considered. The most important factor is patient matching.

Imagine a scenario where a healthcare provider is abiding with the Act and has taken all the necessary measures to do so. However, due to issues like patient misidentification or duplicate medical records, matching patients to their proper EHRs will become nearly impossible. As a result, the wrong medical record will be sent to the wrong caregiver – jeopardizing patient safety and adversely affecting coordinated care efforts along the way. Thus, proper patient matching is an absolute must to make sure that the patient data exchanges are successful and error-free. Healthcare providers can do so by ensuring accurate patient identification across the care continuum by using solutions like RightPatient – more on that later.

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The Interoperability & Patient Access Final Rule

We’ve already talked at length about this rule and how it will enhance interoperability as well. In a nutshell, healthcare providers using EHR or EMR systems need to enable e-notifications support so that they can receive and send out real-time notifications during ADT (admission, discharge, and transfer) events with the patients’ other caregivers. While this rule has been established to boost interoperability and coordinated care efforts, this also requires proper patient matching. If a patient is misidentified, the caregiver will send out false alerts, jeopardizing the care coordination efforts. It will also put the provider’s CMS reimbursements at risk.

Thus, patient identity matching must be accurate at all times, if the providers want to ensure CMS compliance and abide by the 21st Century Cures Act. This is where RightPatient can help caregivers ensure accurate patient identification – and more.

RightPatient can improve patient matching 

RightPatient has years of experience with reputed healthcare providers such as Terrebonne General Medical Center, Community Medical Centers, and University Medical Center. It is a touchless patient identification platform that identifies patients with the element that cannot be copied or stolen – their face. Right from appointment scheduling, the platform ensures remote patient authentication – patients are asked for a selfie and a photo of their driver’s license. RightPatient matches the photos and ensures that patients are identified accurately – ensuring positive patient identification.

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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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CMS Interoperability and Patient Access Final Rule Requires a Robust Patient Identification Software

This has been quite a year for the U.S. healthcare system – nobody could’ve predicted all the series of events. While the novel coronavirus is still raging on, telehealth is experiencing unprecedented growth. On the other hand, hospitals are facing immense financial strain due to the pandemic’s consequences such as the cancellation of elective procedures and lower inpatient visits. However, despite all the recent developments healthcare providers need to work on something else as well – supporting e-notifications. CMS has made some additional changes to the Medicare Conditions of Participation (CoPs), and while providers will be busy brainstorming about how to best approach the requirements, many will overlook one critical factor that will either make or break their e-notifications – patient identification. Let’s take a look at what the rule specifically says about e-notifications, who is eligible, how it helps caregivers, and how a robust patient identification software like RightPatient is a must for ensuring proper e-notifications.

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The Interoperability and Patient Access Final Rule – in a Nutshell

While the rule itself is quite vast and detailed, we’ll cover the e-notifications part briefly. The basic meaning of the rule is clear from its name. For years, the U.S. healthcare system has been suffering from the lack of proper interoperability for a number of issues – patient misidentification being a major reason. However, with the “companion final rule”, as per CMS, things are about to change for the better, as it will introduce a certain level of interoperability that will ultimately boost coordinated healthcare efforts.

The “companion final rule” states that healthcare providers such as critical access providers, acute care, or psychiatric hospitals must send out real-time e-notifications during ADT (admission, discharge, or transfer) events to a patient’s caregivers such as established primary care practitioners, post-acute providers & suppliers,  primary care practice groups & entities, as well as any other practitioners, groups, or entities primarily responsible for the patient’s care. The information sent must contain the patient’s name, the treating practitioner’s name, and the sending institution’s name, at the very least. Finally, these are applicable during inpatient ADT events and ED admissions or discharges.

Any caregiver that uses digital medical records such as EHRs or EMRs must support e-notifications by May 1, 2021, to ensure CMS compliance.

With that out of the way, let’s look at how the rule requires accurate patient identification and how a robust patient identification software is critical for its success.

Why patient identification will make or break your CMS compliance

Healthcare providers are already busy working on e-notifications support, and while there are a lot of great solutions out there, providers shouldn’t forget the foundation upon which e-notifications depend on – proper patient identification.

The Interoperability and Patient Access Final Rule requires hospitals to identify their patients accurately across the care continuum, especially if they want to send out e-notifications to the proper caregivers. Sadly, patient identification has always been problematic – it is an overlooked but significant concern for the U.S. healthcare system. One might ask how are patient identification and e-notifications related – let’s learn more.

Imagine this – a hospital already has patient misidentification cases because they don’t use an effective patient identification software. If a patient comes in and is misidentified, not only will the treatment be affected, but the hospital will be sending out false alerts to the wrong caregivers. This will wreak havoc for all the caregivers involved with the patient. 

If such cases become common, then the patients, as well as the care coordination teams, will start questioning the credibility of the caregiver sending out false alerts. As a result, the hospital will lose goodwill and risk its CMS reimbursements. After COVID-19, not a single hospital can afford to make such mistakes – the pandemic has already caused the worst financial strain on hospitals and health systems in recent times. Thus, patient identification is a crucial component for the e-notifications to work. If caregivers don’t have a robust patient identity matching system in place, they need to upgrade it before the e-notifications support deadline.

RightPatient is the most robust patient identification software

RightPatient has been accurately identifying patients for years. With its touchless patient identification platform, RightPatient ensures that patients are identified accurately and safely right from the start.

After a patient schedules an appointment, they are sent an SMS or email and are required to provide a selfie and a photo of their driver’s license. The platform automatically matches the photos and remotely ensures patient identification. If it’s a new patient, the platform will automatically assign new biometric credentials for them. 

During hospital visits, patients only need to look at the camera – RightPatient matches the saved photo with the photo taken by the camera – ensuring accurate patient identification. Best of all, it’s an entirely touchless process, something that is mandatory in a post-pandemic world.

RightPatient is the leading patient identification software in the healthcare industry and is used by prominent caregivers such as Terrebonne General Medical Center, Community Medical Centers, and Catholic Health Services of Long Island. Be a responsible healthcare provider and upgrade your patient identification system now to prevent misidentification cases, medical identity theft, and ensure compliance with the Interoperability and Patient Access Final Rule.

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Upgrading the Patient Identification Process Can Help Combat the Opioid Crisis

Opioid abuse has been a constant problem for the U.S. healthcare system for years now. When opioid medications were introduced, it was said that they would help caregivers and patients by improving healthcare outcomes. However, many didn’t count on the fact that it might create problems such as opioid addictions, leading to medical identity theft, overdoses, and even deaths of the addicts as well as their newborns. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a sharp rise in opioid abuse cases. Let’s review some statistics associated with opioid abuse, where cases are happening now, why they usually happen, and how a proper patient identification process can help combat the opioid epidemic for healthcare providers.

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The opioid epidemic is just one of the many problems

We’ve stated this more times than we can count – the U.S. healthcare system just doesn’t seem to catch a break. It has always been plagued with a number of serious problems. Expensive healthcare, lack of price transparency, lack of proper patient identification process, medical identity theft cases, healthcare data breaches, duplicate medical records – these are just some of the many issues faced by patients and caregivers. However, the opioid crisis is another significant issue that needs to be addressed – even during the pandemic, it’s getting worse. Thus, healthcare providers are not only facing the issues above, but they’re also fighting a pandemic as well as an epidemic. However, before getting into the current situation, let’s take a look at some stats.

The numbers show how serious the opioid epidemic is

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 130+ people died every day due to opioid overdoses, 10.3 million Americans misused prescribed opioids in 2018, and 2 million patients misused prescribed opioids the first time they received them from their doctor. 

However, the numbers have jumped significantly this year compared to 2019 in approximately 21 of the largest U.S. counties, according to The Wall Street Journal. Counties in California, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, and Ohio saw an increase in deaths caused by opioid overdoses. Moreover, Los Angeles County suffered an increase in overdoses by 48% within the first 6 weeks of the novel coronavirus pandemic when compared to the same period from last year. But why are the opioid cases considered an epidemic? 

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The opioid crisis in a nutshell

In the late 90s, opioids were pushed by pharmaceutical companies – ensuring that they were either less addictive or nonaddictive compared to other drugs available at that time – morphine, for instance. They stated that even the less addictive ones had no dangerous side-effects. This instilled doctors and physicians with confidence and they started prescribing them to patients. It created an epidemic that the U.S. healthcare system has been battling for decades now – and the rates are only increasing. But how do addicted patients get their hands on these drugs from hospitals?

Lack of a proper patient identification process leads to more cases

Patient identification, as previously mentioned, has been problematic for years now. The addicted patients can simply go back to their caregivers and demand more of the dangerous drugs, stating that this is the first time they’re requesting them – abusing their prescriptions. Since the caregivers don’t have a proper way to verify such statements (as an effect of the lack of patient identification), they have no other choice.

Also, addicts might lie regarding their information and present themselves as a different patient in order to get access to the drugs. One way they can do that is by committing medical identity theft – they assume the identities of others to receive the drugs. Thus, hospitals can better battle the opioid crisis if they make the patients go through a proper patient identification process.

RightPatient can enhance your patient identification process

RightPatient has already been helping leading healthcare providers ensure positive patient identification for years now. With its photo-based search engine, RightPatient can prevent medical identity theft in real-time, ensure that patients are who they say they are, and track their last visits to the facilities to verify that they’re getting the prescribed medicine and nothing more.

RightPatient can also ensure accurate patient identification from appointment scheduling. After booking an appointment, the patient receives an SMS or email to verify their identity. A patient only needs to provide their selfie and a photo of their driver’s license. RightPatient matches the photos and remotely validates the patient’s identity. If it’s a new patient, the platform assigns biometric credentials for them, making it a seamless process.

RightPatient has several benefits – not only can it help curb the opioid abuse cases, but it can also prevent medical identity theft, avoid duplicate medical records, and help in improving patient safety and quality of care.

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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.