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Another One Added to Wrong Patient Surgery Cases – Is Patient Misidentification To Blame?

We’ve been talking about patient misidentification for quite a long time now, and for very good reasons. While many think that patient identification errors in hospitals are not that common or serious, but every now and then, a piece of news comes up that shows just how serious it can be. This time, a patient received a kidney that was actually meant for someone else – can you imagine? Without further ado, let’s dive deep into the unfortunate tale and see how wrong patient surgery cases can be prevented with positive patient identification. 

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A classic case of transplant mix-up

This unfortunate case of transplant mix-up is exactly what we warn healthcare professionals against – we’ve seen our fair share of wrong patient surgery cases.

It occurred in University Hospitals (UH) on the 2nd of July, and fortunately, the recipient survived, as the kidney was compatible with the patient. The patient is slowly recovering, according to a spokesperson, and the surgery of the actual patient who was supposed to get the kidney has been delayed. UH also notified UNOS (United Network for organ Sharing) about the transplant mix-up.

Moreover, UH isn’t divulging any more details about the situation as of now – they are analyzing the situation, investigating what caused the issue, and are working so that it never occurs again. However, the employees that were involved with the medical error are on administrative leave until the issue is figured out. 

However, while this might seem quite unusual, wrong patient surgery cases do occur every now and then – something which we can confidently say occurs because of patient mix-ups due to poor patient identification systems. 

Wrong patient surgery cases are uncommon, but not unheard of

Back in 2019, before the pandemic changed everything, wrong patient identification led to another transplant mix-up in Lourdes Hospital Transplant Center (which we’ve covered already). Coincidentally, it also was a case of a kidney transplant.

However, this was a much more transparent case as the patients had a similar name and age – something that we very well know leads to patient mix-ups, among other things. Fortunately, in that case, the patient who got the kidney survived as it was a perfect match. 

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This case was also reported to UNOS and the patient who was supposed to get the kidney had the transplant down the line. 

However, in UH’s case, the patient who’s supposed to get the transplant is still on the waiting list. As already mentioned, UH isn’t releasing any details about the mix-up – but we are too familiar with such cases. 

Wrong patient surgery cases occur due to poor patient identification

In Lourdes Hospital Transplant Center’s case, the patients had common names and were of similar age. This is a classic case of patient identification errors. Patient’s medical records are usually mixed up during registration, and if they have common characteristics, such devastating cases are generated. 

We believe that whatever occurred in UH was due to patient misidentification, or the lack of proper patient identification.

Medical record mix-ups, poor quality patient data, medication administration errors, wrong transplants, detrimental healthcare outcomes, mistreatments, and adverse incidents are just some of the consequences of poor patient identification, and can even claim patients’ lives. The patients involved in the two wrong patient surgery cases above are extremely lucky to be alive – not everyone makes it out alive. 

Such transplant mix-ups or patient mix-ups are deadly, but they ARE preventable – as long as the healthcare provider is ensuring accurate patient identification. We’re so concerned about such cases is because we help responsible hospitals and health systems prevent patient mix-ups with our industry-leading touchless biometric patient identification platform, RightPatient. 

RightPatient prevents patient mix-ups and patient safety incidents

RightPatient prevents patient identification errors right from the start. It takes patients’ photos during registration and locks the medical records with them. Whenever a patient comes up later on, the platform provides the accurate medical record after comparing the saved photo with the live one. This makes sure that patient mix-ups are eliminated, as it uses the one characteristic that cannot be mixed up – patients’ faces. 

RightPatient has a vast amount of experience with ensuring accurate patient identification in several hospitals and health systems, and we’re confident that it could’ve prevented such cases. 

Are you preventing such mix-ups at your healthcare facility effectively?

EHRs-need-accurate-patient-data-RightPatient

The Importance of EHRs Shows Why Medical Record Errors Must be Prevented

When caregivers are asked about the most important tool they have at their disposal to treat their patients, what answers are expected? Some would say their healthcare team, the cutting edge technology/procedures they have access to, the different solutions they have that improve healthcare outcomes, and so on. However, the most underrated and crucial tool is definitely the electronic health records or EHRs. Think of it – where would healthcare be without EHRs? EHRs ensure that the right information regarding the right patient is provided to the right medical team. However, this is applicable only as long as certain issues are prevented, especially medical record errors.

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That being said, let’s take a deeper dive into how EHRs are the most important tool for healthcare providers and why ensuring patient data integrity is a must. 

Healthcare is evolving but the starting point remains the same

Let’s go back to a time before the deadly pandemic. If someone went to a healthcare provider and told them that telehealth would become mainstream in the future, the provider would most likely say that they’re crazy! Look at the reality now – telehealth is still preferred by many, even while users are decreasing due to hospitals opening up. 

Healthcare has been evolving – rapidly in some areas and steadily in others. One certain thing is that healthcare isn’t limited to the four walls of hospitals and health systems anymore – one of the consequences of the pandemic. However, whether it’s in-person visits or virtual ones (telehealth/telemedicine), the foundation for providing care to patients remains the same – EHRs. 

EHRs are more important than most realize 

Patients, caregivers, and others are quite satisfied with telehealth now.

Patients on the younger side have stated that they would like to continue using telehealth even if the national health emergency is over. That’s probably because it’s more convenient, easier, and safer – all the patients need is an internet connection with a communication device. 

Caregivers have a bit more complex process to go through. 

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Caregivers who are providing telehealth services have to consider a lot of factors – the telehealth platform, the portal, the EHR system, identifying the right patient, rules and regulations, ensuring patient safety online, and more. Also, while providing virtual services to the patients, the physicians need to ensure that the necessary information is being fed to the EHRs of the patients accurately – just as they do during an in-person visit. 

The bottom line is that whether the healthcare provider is seeing the patient within their facility or online, the one thing that basically remains constant is the patient’s EHR. However, issues such as medical record errors can mess EHRs up, derailing healthcare outcomes among other things – let’s see how. 

Why it’s crucial to prevent medical record errors

One of the starting points of providing healthcare is the EHR. When the patient interacts with their healthcare provider, usually to schedule an appointment, one of the first things done by the caregiver is pulling up the patient’s EHR. It basically provides the entire medical history, recent lab test results, and other information required to treat the patient. Moreover, any new information captured by the caregiver will be added to the EHR. EHRs, by providing timely, relevant, comprehensive, and accurate information to the physicians, improve healthcare outcomes, optimize healthcare delivery, boost coordinated care, and reduce adverse events. 

Now, imagine if an inaccurate EHR is selected – the consequences can be devastating! 

Medical record errors such as duplicates and overlays lead to patient mix-ups. Patient A’s treatment will be based on patient B’s medical record, leading to detrimental healthcare outcomes, adverse effects, and worse. Patient data within the EHRs becomes unreliable as it is fragmented, erroneous, and inconsistent. 

However, all of this can be prevented with positive patient identification with RightPatient.

RightPatient prevents medical record errors – and more!

By identifying patients correctly right off the bat, RightPatient ensures that accurate, high-quality data is fed to the EHRs every time the patient checks in for a healthcare visit. Patients only need to look at the camera – the touchless biometric patient identification platform does the rest.

With RightPatient, responsible healthcare providers are not only ensuring patient data integrity, but they are also improving patient outcomes, preventing patient safety incidents, and providing optimal healthcare services to patients.

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Another Patient Misidentification Case Shows Why Hospitals Must Prevent It

Patient misidentification strikes again. It’s not surprising at this point, as patient misidentification cases have been occurring frequently in hospitals and health systems. There are a plethora of consequences attached to it, which is why patient safety goals quite frequently have “improving patient identification” listed as one of the top goals to address. That being said, let’s take a look at the patient identification error in detail and how these cases are preventable with a robust patient ID solution. 

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A recent occurrence of patient misidentification, but certainly not the last one

Fortunately, the problem was detected before it caused any patient harm. While the patient, Ronnie (pseudonym), was waiting for a virtual visit, she was trying to convince the medical assistant that she didn’t have the rare condition called hereditary nonspherocytic hemolytic anemia. Ronnie doesn’t know how it got added to her EHR, however, that was not her only concern regarding the matter. As she was trying to get this inaccurate information removed, she experienced a lengthy and tedious process. 

The assistant informed Ronnie that only the person who added the condition can remove it – EHRs are quite sensitive documents, and access to modify them is restricted to only a handful of people. However, the assistant provided the name of the doctor, and the surprise here is that Ronnie had never had any physician by that name. 

The assistant was adamant that Ronnie might have had some encounter she forgot about – for instance, it might have occurred in an ER visit. However, Ronnie never went to the ER and got diagnosed with such a rare condition. She backed up her statement by adding that if she actually had hereditary nonspherocytic hemolytic anemia, she would’ve been informed about it. The assistant just reiterated that the physician has added it. Most probably, this occurred because Ronnie’s EHR was mixed up with some other patient and it was a condition that belongs to another “Ronnie” – a classic case of medical record mix-up caused by wrong patient identification

Unfortunately, the tale doesn’t end here – there’s far more to it. 

Ronnie had to go to extreme lengths to address the problem. As the discussion with the medical assistant got her nowhere, the condition was still present in her EHR. When Ronnie explained it to her physician, the latter tried to remove it but couldn’t, and neither could Ronnie’s other physicians. After trying everything, Ronnie submitted a formal request to modify her EHR – something many patients need to do to resolve patient identification errors.

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We believe that Ronnie’s among the lucky ones – many such cases remain undetected until it’s too late, causing detrimental healthcare outcomes. 

EHRs are beneficial but are bogged down due to patient misidentification

EHRs have a host of benefits and have been helping physicians see everything in one place, improve patient outcomes, and more. However, since EHRs contain sensitive information, editing them to rectify the errors is quite cumbersome – just look at the case above! Moreover, since caregivers have to share with other physicians due to coordinated care, these errors are seen by everyone involved in the patient’s treatment. 

This is just one case, and fortunately, Ronnie was able to identify the issue. As previously mentioned, this might have occurred because of a medical record mix-up – we know, because we’ve heard about numerous cases from hospitals and health systems. Unfortunately, there are thousands of patient identification errors in hospitals that are undetected and cause a plethora of issues – both financial and physical. How do we know so much about patient misidentification? 

Because our touchless biometric patient identification platform, RightPatient, prevents it and helps healthcare providers identify their patients correctly at all times. 

RightPatient ensures accurate patient identification at all touchpoints

RightPatient could have very well prevented the error in this case study – we have prevented such cases in numerous hospitals and have even drastically reduced duplicate record creation. The patients only need to look at the camera – our platform does the rest. During registration, RightPatient takes a photo of the patient and attaches it to the EHR. Whenever the patient comes in, the platform takes another photo and matches it with the saved one – providing an accurate EHR every time. 

RightPatient has been protecting millions of patient records in several hospitals and health systems. It ensures accurate patient identification, prevents medical identity theft in real-time, prevents duplicates and overlays, and more – ensuring positive patient outcomes.

Don’t become a mistaken patient identification story and contact us now to see how we can help you boost your bottom line.

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Healthcare Revenue Cycle Management Optimization is Crucial as In-Person Visits Increase

Believe it or not, while COVID-19 was arguably one of the worst problems faced by the U.S. healthcare system, it was just ONE of many. That’s right, there are a plethora of issues that have been hampering healthcare for years, causing patient safety incidents, lost revenue, and more. Unfortunately, these losses went through the roof due to COVID-19 – they were estimated to be around $323 billion in 2020. While the pandemic is slowly waning, things are going in the right direction as providers are opening their doors for in-person visits. To recover from the pandemic’s financial losses, healthcare revenue cycle management optimization must be one of the topmost priorities for health systems – let’s take a closer look at why it’s important and some strategies that can help with revenue cycle optimization.

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Revenue cycle management in healthcare facilities

Healthcare revenue cycle management might be quite complex, as it contains many intricate processes, but it is simple enough to understand.

Revenue cycle management, in a nutshell, is used by hospitals and health systems to keep track of the “revenue” they receive by treating patients. It has many steps, but RCM starts from the first interaction with the patient, for instance, appointment scheduling, and continues until caregivers receive the final payment. 

If broken down, revenue cycle of healthcare facilities usually contains 7 components:

  • Preregistration
  • Registration
  • Charge capture
  • Claim submission
  • Remittance processing
  • Insurance followup
  • Patient collections

As this list shows, the revenue cycle starts from the first interaction with the patient and ends with receiving the full amount for providing healthcare services to the patient.

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While it might seem simple, healthcare revenue cycle management is quite complicated and difficult, especially when it comes to collecting claims from the payers (insurance providers). 

Why optimizing RCM has never been more crucial

While it was always important for healthcare providers to improve RCM within their facilities, doing so now might ensure their survival and get them through this trying time. COVID-19 has drastically affected healthcare providers, and while some received bailouts in billions, others had to close their doors permanently. The rest of them are simply struggling through the financial losses, but as in-person visits are increasing, things look brighter for the caregivers, as long as they are implementing strategies that optimize RCM right from the start. 

That being said, let’s take a look at some of the strategies that can be employed to optimize healthcare revenue cycle management.

Strategies that enhance healthcare revenue cycle management

Examine the entire RCM process to identify gaps

While the age-old saying is “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”, rapidly evolving environments beg to differ. How do you know that it’s working out fine for you? Unless your denied claims are reduced to virtually zero, there’s always room for improvement. 

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Analyze the entire RCM process to see if there are addressable gaps that require improvement – even the smallest ones matter. Talk to patients, survey your RCM team, take a look at the current numbers, and determine where you want the numbers to be. If issues are not found, then great – the problem might not lie in RCM, but if issues exist, work on them. RCM is evolving rapidly, and with the changes brought about by COVID-19, introducing technology in almost every aspect of the service to improve efficiency and collaboration has become the new normal. And speaking of collaboration, let’s move to the next point. 

Improve collaboration between your front-end and back-end RCM teams

The traditional practice is that the front-end and back-end teams work towards the same goals, but separately. However, if they work more collaboratively then the entire process will become seamless and it will help optimize RCM as information is never lost or misinterpreted – helping to receive payments much faster and in greater numbers, improving the bottom line. 

Using solutions that guarantee accurate patient information

When it comes to RCM, one of the biggest impediments to its optimization is denied or rejected claims – most of which can be traced back to billing and coding errors. On the front-end, if the patients are misidentified or if inaccurate medical records are used, then there are bound to be inconsistencies that are picked up by the payers. These errors lead not only to billing errors and denied claims, but can also be detrimental to positive patient outcomes – affecting the bottom line and the goodwill towards the hospital. As a result, ensuring patient data integrity and accurate patient identification is a must – both of which can be done with RightPatient.

RightPatient is a tried and tested biometric patient ID platform that safely and accurately identifies patients using their faces. The patient only needs to look at the camera – the platform does the rest, making it an entirely contactless process, something that is crucial in the post-pandemic world.

Not only does RightPatient make identification faster and accurate, but it also ensures that accurate information is fed to the registered patients’ EHRs every time they opt for healthcare visits, reducing billing and coding inconsistencies and denied claims in the process.

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Preventing Medical Record Errors Improves Patient Safety

Healthcare providers in the U.S. never seem to catch a break – they’ve always faced a plethora of issues even before the pandemic. For a brief refresher, the U.S. healthcare system suffers from outrageous costs, the lack of price transparency, ancient laws that hamper healthcare outcomes, the lack of proper interoperability, medical record errors, preventable medical errors, patient safety incidents, and more.

While all of that seems like a bit too much, there are actually far more issues that regularly challenge health systems and hospitals and hold them back from providing positive patient outcomes. One such crucial but overlooked issue that hampers healthcare outcomes is medical record errors. Let’s explore how they are created, what are the consequences, and how proper patient identification can enhance the quality and safety in healthcare facilities.

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Medical record errors jeopardize healthcare outcomes in several ways

Patient safety incidents, detrimental healthcare outcomes, denied claims, patient mix-ups, and other adverse effects can be traced back to errors with medical records – the most common ones are duplicates and overlays. In fact, whenever an EHR error occurs, it typically goes undetected until an unfortunate event occurs such as the ones listed above. However, if one goes even further back, patient identification errors are likely to be the main culprit – let’s see how that happens. 

Patient misidentification leads to most medical record errors

One of the most common causes that lead to medical record discrepancies is patient misidentification, and that’s because most healthcare providers are using obsolete means to identify their patients – more on that later. Let’s take a look at how duplicates and overlays are created within EHR systems.

Duplicate record creation 

It’s quite straightforward – let’s start from the beginning. A patient comes into the hospital for a checkup, and since most hospitals suffer from patient identification problems, the EHR user is left with a difficult choice if they can’t find the accurate medical record. This happens because:

  • The patient has a common name
  • There are multiple patient records with the same characteristics
  • Searching for the right medical record is virtually impossible

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Now, the choices the EHR user has are either diving deep and painstakingly finding the accurate medical record, assigning the medical record that seems to be the “closest match”, or, just to be safe, creating an entirely new medical record. However, the latter can be catastrophic for both the patient and the hospital. Saving a discussion about the consequences for a later part, let’s see how overlays are far more damaging.

Overlays are extremely dangerous

Duplicate records are created when a patient has multiple medical records. Overlays, however, are single medical records that contain information about multiple patients – clearly, these medical record errors can be very dangerous.

Let’s continue from the previous example – the EHR user selected a medical record that best matched the patient (X), but it actually belongs to a different patient (Y). When patient X has their medical checkup, their health information is recorded into patient Y’s medical record, rendering it corrupt, unusable, and dangerous. Next time, when either patient returns for medical treatment, they’ll be facing detrimental healthcare outcomes because the data in their medical record is unreliable.

Moreover, with the growing adoption of EHR systems, these issues are becoming far more common. In fact, according to AHIMA, smaller hospitals have around 5-10% of these duplicate medical records whereas larger health systems can have a whopping 20%. These errors can cause around $40 million in unnecessary costs in clean-ups, litigation costs, and others.

Unfortunately, the biggest issue with these duplicates and overlays is that, as previously mentioned, they remain undetected until an adverse event occurs. The best way to resolve medical record errors is by preventing them right from the start – accurate patient identification can help with that. 

RightPatient prevents duplicates and overlays

RightPatient has been helping responsible healthcare providers accurately identify patients at any touchpoint with its robust biometric patient identification platform. It can be seamlessly integrated with any EHR system and it becomes a part of the EHR workflow. 

Patients only need to look at the camera – the platform automatically locates the accurate medical record for the EHR user, making it a seamless, safe, and hygienic experience for everyone involved. It has been helping reputed caregivers like Grady health, TGMC, and Community Medical Centers prevent duplicate record creation, ensure patient safety, and boost the bottom line.

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Improving Healthcare Outcomes with 4 Strategies

COVID-19 has the U.S. healthcare system sweating through probably the most volatile phase in its history. Hospitals are opening up their doors and gradually receiving patients as things are getting much better with the distribution of vaccines. However, the danger of underlying issues that have plagued the healthcare system for decades still remains. Despite these problems, the burden of hospitals providing immaculate healthcare services is still there. That being said, here are some of the practices that can help hospitals with improving healthcare outcomes and reducing their issues.

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Improving healthcare outcomes is a major priority currently

Administering proper care at the proper time and the avoidance of patient safety incidents is a major objective of hospitals. Thus, hospitals are under pressure to implement relevant strategies and solutions that will enhance their effectiveness. This includes partnering with other care providers to protect patient data integrity. While implementing some of these strategies can be pretty expensive, they do help with improving healthcare outcomes – here are some of the most important ones:

Ensuring efficient collaboration with the patients’ care providers

The right kind of collaboration is important in healthcare nowadays and CMS has established new conditions that require caregivers to work together. It has upped the ante on the degree of seriousness of it all.

So, what is the correlation between collaboration and patient outcomes? How does it work to improve healthcare outcomes?

Before terms such as interoperability and collaboration existed, people often were loyal to a single healthcare facility. This has changed, especially with data sharing, EHRs, and interoperability – patients are now free to visit multiple caregivers for treatments to their various conditions and ailments. There might be an interrelation between patients’ conditions and this provides ground for caregivers to associate to ensure that they obtain all the necessary data and up-to-date information that will enable them to make the best decisions with regards to handling the patient and thus improving healthcare outcomes.

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A hospital that is open to collaboration and the implementation of required strategies and relevant solutions will go a long way in helping to improve patient outcomes. The CMS requirements mandate that caregivers support sending and receiving electronic notifications during ADT events that provide updated information about a patient’s condition. RightPatient is a useful tool that caregivers can use to ensure the proper identification of patients and prevent false alerts – more on that later.

Ensuring patient data integrity

The integrity of patient data is often overlooked when it comes to its effects on healthcare outcomes but it is crucial nonetheless. Inadequate positive patient identification can ultimately affect the integrity of patient data. This occurs when a patient is treated with the medical record of another patient or the data gets corrupted in the EHR as the wrong information gets saved in it. When the actual patient comes in for treatment, he gets the wrong administration due to inaccurate information. Thus, medical errors arise, leading to incorrect treatment plans, wrong medication, and more, which lead to negative healthcare outcomes.

Impersonation by a fraudster can also lead to the compromise of patient data integrity – it occurs during medical identity theft. This case is similar to patient misidentification, the only difference might just be that the impersonator does it deliberately. The fraudster receiving the treatment then gets his/her information added into the victim’s EHR thus corrupting patient data. If this passes on undetected, the victim could end up undergoing the wrong treatment procedure.

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Therefore, a patient’s data has to be protected against tampering to further improve the healthcare outcome of the patients due to the reception of the proper treatment on schedule. 

Avoiding preventable medical errors

The focus has also shifted to limiting the occurrence of otherwise avoidable medical errors. The statistics behind such errors are quite alarming. These are common as a result of technical errors, medication errors, medical record mix-ups, wrong information, and so on. Poor patient identification is also responsible for most of the preventable medical errors. Thus, if patients can be accurately identified, then it will significantly improve patient outcomes. 

Preventing patient misidentification

The common problem in all the scenarios above is patient identification errors. It causes a huge problem for hospitals and health systems in general as discussed earlier. With patient misidentification, patient safety can be jeopardized with false alerts rampant during collaboration with other caregivers, sharing corrupted patient information, and the consequence is medical error. The bottom line is that misidentification can affect healthcare outcomes and it can even lead to the death of patients. 

Fortunately, accurate patient identification with RightPatient can help improve healthcare outcomes. 

RightPatient has been helping improve patient safety

RightPatient, with its touchless biometric patient identification platform, has become the top choice for several healthcare providers. It has helped them to enhance patient safety, improve patient healthcare outcomes, and reduce the occurrence of medical errors. The benefits are numerous for both patients and caregivers and this includes safety – it is contactless and perfect for use in a post-pandemic world.

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Infection Control in Hospitals is Imperative as COVID-19 Cases Increase

COVID-19 is a phenomenon that has crippled almost the entire world. Even in those very rare countries where it didn’t infect many people, it did hurt their economies. The majority of developing countries are severely affected by the novel virus, leading to disruption in international businesses and global transactions. However, one can safely say that COVID-19 has affected America the worst – it is currently seeing huge spikes across the states, where officials are introducing new safety measures. Let’s take a look at the most recent record-breaking statistics of US COVID cases, some measures officials are implementing to mitigate its spread, and practices that will help ensure infection control in hospitals – improving patient safety and quality of care.

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US COVID-19 cases keep breaking records

Unfortunately, the US has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world – over 11.3 million! Moreover, it keeps on making new records: November 13 saw 184,514 new cases, according to John Hopkins University. This is in line with experts’ predictions – many stated that things will get worse during the fall. Ultimately, all of this will add to the huge amount of pressure healthcare providers are already facing – the COVID Tracking Project saw over 68,000 hospitalizations on November 13 where 6% of the patients were on ventilators and 19% in ICUs.

Needless to say, these numbers are frightening, with officials introducing measures to mitigate further spread. Let’s review some of the emergency measures introduced within some states.

Some recent measures to mitigate COVID-19’s spread

Oregon will see restrictions on gyms, restaurants, and retail stores. Virginia issued a mask mandate for anyone older than five starting on the 15th of November. New Mexico will be facing a two-week shutdown that consists of nonessential activities starting from 16th November.  Many other locations are seeing similar restrictions to ensure social distancing practices as a result of ever-increasing cases.

While these measures are in place to lower potential COVID-19 cases, infection control in hospitals must be ensured so that cases don’t spread within healthcare facilities. Let’s explore why this is important.

Why is infection control in hospitals important?

Of healthcare providers’ many responsibilities, preventing hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) has been a topmost priority for many of them. Hospitals are constantly looking to improve practices that enhance infection control and prevent HAIs. It is a crucial role of any hospital because, if not ensured, it will lead to compromised patient safety, undesirable healthcare outcomes, and create a chain of events that will jeopardize the entire healthcare facility. However, prior to the pandemic, HAIs used to be a headache of healthcare providers only; but now, contracting diseases is the concern of virtually everyone, especially those in hospitals.

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COVID-19 has shown how effective communication can be in this day and age – any new update regarding the novel virus can be shared and seen by anyone, thanks to the internet. Almost everyone has extensive knowledge about the do’s and don’ts, and they are quite reluctant to visit hospitals since they know that’s where the COVID-19 patients are going. Thus, healthcare providers need to ensure infection control in hospitals and enhance patient safety as well as the safety of the frontline staff members. Let’s take a look at how hospitals can reduce HAIs, some of which are according to WHO, and improve healthcare outcomes as a result.

Practices to ensure infection control in hospitals

Create an effective infection control policy

The foundation of having zero to minimal HAIs is to have an effective infection control policy at hand. Healthcare providers wanting strict infection control must plan for it in advance, and this plan should contain guidelines for dealing with HAIs, identifying affected patients, locations to place the patients in isolation, and the duration of such events.

Washing hands thoroughly and regularly

While this might seem obvious at this point, it is still one of the most important practices to ensure infection control in hospitals and save lives in the process. Washing hands regularly with liquids containing antimicrobial agents for twenty seconds is a must, especially after interacting with extractions, contaminated items, blood, secretions, etc. Keep sanitizers within a short distance of each other so that patients and caregivers both have access to them. If possible, use automatic dispensers to make it a touchless and safer experience for everyone involved.

Enforce PPE usage

PPE is a term that has been tossed around since the beginning of the pandemic, and for good reason. While healthcare professionals have been using it for decades to prevent HAIs, virtually everyone uses some form of PPE nowadays to protect themselves. Unfortunately, not everyone follows best practices, which will ultimately put others at risk.

Enforcing PPE usage for everyone within a healthcare facility is a good practice, regardless of their designation. Simply putting up signs saying “No PPE, No Service” will be quite effective for patients. For the healthcare staff members, surgical masks, face shields, gloves, gowns, etc., must always be present whenever they are within the facilities.

Keeping surfaces clean

Viruses linger on surfaces for days, and keeping them clean is the best solution to prevent HAIs. We can significantly reduce HAIs by monitoring the materials and environmental surfaces that are touched frequently and disinfecting them regularly and thoroughly, such as beds, handles, etc.

Using touchless solutions that ensure infection control

While many touchless solutions will be popping up within the next few years, there is one that is already being used by many healthcare providers to prevent infection control issues – RightPatient. It is a touchless patient identification platform that uses patients’ photos to lock medical records and verify their identities. Enrolled patients only need to look at the camera – the platform matches the live photo with the saved one, providing the appropriate medical record within seconds without requiring any physical contact, and ensuring patient safety and hygiene.

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Hospitals Are Facing Lower Reimbursements – Reduce Losses by Preventing Wrong Patient Identification

The COVID-19 pandemic has – and still is – left an unprecedented impact on our lives, and it’s safe to assume that it will leave a mark for years, if not decades. While the novel virus has claimed over 1 million lives around the world, over 219,000 of them were Americans. The US healthcare system is also on the receiving end – it is expected to face unprecedented losses of around $323 billion this year. Many healthcare providers have been forced to shut their doors permanently, furlough or lay off employees, or introduce pay cuts to deal with the financial blows. To make matters worse, healthcare providers are receiving small amounts of reimbursements for treating uninsured COVID-19 patients. Let’s take a look at the scenario, the numbers associated with the issue, and how providers can mitigate these losses by preventing wrong patient identification.

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COVID-19 has created an unprecedented financial strain for hospitals

COVID-19 has been spreading like wildfire, impacting everything and everyone it comes in contact with. After it hit the US, the healthcare system braced for impact the best way it could; hospitals canceled elective procedures and reassigned all resources to handle the surge of incoming COVID-19 patients. Naturally, hospitals and health systems are still suffering from the financial strain caused by COVID-19 as well as the cancellation of elective procedures.

Providers would get reimbursed for treating uninsured COVID-19 patients 

Back in April, the Trump administration’s coronavirus treatment reimbursement program was announced. Healthcare providers who treated uninsured COVID-19 patients would be reimbursed using the money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This has been done so that caregivers don’t incur any more losses as well as to avoid uninsured patients facing shocking bills related to COVID-19. As a result, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has reimbursed $881 million to around 8,000 providers to date.

However, it was estimated previously that the reimbursement for treating uninsured COVID-19 patients would range from $13.9 billion to $41.8 billion. As hospitals are facing losses of around $323 billion this year, they need higher reimbursements if they are to survive in the post-pandemic world. 

Why is this happening? 

One of the reasons pointed out by the Kaiser Family Foundation is the eligibility for receiving reimbursements – hospitals treating uninsured patients who have a primary diagnosis of COVID-19 will be receiving reimbursements. This means that even though healthcare providers might treat uninsured patients, if their primary diagnosis isn’t COVID-19, the caregivers won’t be eligible for reimbursements.

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Another issue with the program is that it doesn’t guarantee that all caregivers treating uninsured COVID-19 patients will receive the reimbursements – it depends on the availability of funding.

Hospitals must cut costs by mitigating wrong patient identification

The biggest challenge hospitals are facing now is to survive the financial strain. As previously mentioned, many have already closed their doors. Others are utilizing alternative cost-cutting methods such as furloughing or laying off employees, introducing reduced salaries, or restructuring their operations.

However, healthcare providers have a long list of problems that stem from wrong patient identification, and if they can eliminate it, they can significantly reduce costs and mitigate losses – enough to survive the financial crisis. Moreover, patient identification errors have been impacting healthcare outcomes even during the pandemic – for instance, test results went to the wrong patients, treatment was delayed due to incorrect patient data, and so on. All of these issues can be eliminated with RightPatient.

RightPatient effectively prevents wrong patient identification

Wrong patient identification has been a significant problem for years. While many healthcare providers wisely chose RightPatient before the pandemic (thanks to its touchless nature) others are facing issues with their touch-based solutions. Many have even reported a significant drop in utilization of the touch-based patient identification solutions as patients are extremely reluctant to use them due to concerns regarding infections. While infection control used to be a concern for hospitals only, since the pandemic, patients are well aware of the consequences.

Thankfully, patients and caregivers don’t have to worry about this with RightPatient, the industry’s leading patient identification platform. It uses a characteristic that others cannot replicate or steal: patients’ faces. Using patients’ photos and a photo of their driver’s license or other identification cards after scheduling an appointment, RightPatient automatically matches the photos to ensure accurate patient identification right from the start and across the care continuum. 

Leading providers have deployed RightPatient across their facilities and are reducing denied claims, preventing duplicate medical records, and enhancing patient safety – ultimately eliminating redundant costs and boosting their bottom line in the process. After the pandemic, every hospital needs to reduce such costs to survive – use RightPatient to help you do so.

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Identifying Patients Accurately is Critical for Ensuring CMS Compliance

The US healthcare system has been going through a very challenging phase due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, it looks like healthcare providers are going to have their hands full – they have another rule to comply with and must plan accordingly to ensure compliance by May 1, 2021. The fact that there have been additional changes to the Medicare Conditions of Participation (CoPs) is already well known among healthcare leaders. However, while many providers are already thinking about how they can ensure compliance, they might leave out one significant factor that can make or break the entire effort – are they identifying patients accurately? Why is this important? How does patient identification fit in with the new changes? How can providers ensure accurate patient identification? Let’s explore in detail.

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CMS Interoperability & Patient Access Final Rule

While the entire healthcare system has been suffering from the lack of interoperability, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have made some changes to the CoPs to ensure that there is some degree of interoperability, believing that it will have positive effects on care coordination as well.

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The “companion final rule”, as per CMS, mandates that healthcare providers like acute care, psychiatric, and critical access hospitals send out e-notifications during every patient admission, discharge, or transfer (ADT) to the designated recipients (read: providers and other entities primarily responsible for patient’s care). This is applicable for both inpatient admissions and patients registered in the emergency departments (EDs).

Moreover, the providers obligated to follow the ADT requirements must make enough effort to ensure that they have sent out the notifications to the applicable parties (suppliers, entities, practitioners, etc.) in real-time.

Any given healthcare provider that uses digital medical records like EMRs or EHRs needs to ensure compliance with the updated CoPs for e-notifications. COVID-19 has extended the deadline – healthcare providers now have until May 1, 2021 to ensure compliance with the recent changes. 

Why are the CoPs important?

What is the biggest reason to ensure CMS compliance? Financial factors like CMS reimbursements and avoiding non-compliance penalties are more than ample motivators. Healthcare providers need to be compliant in order to safeguard their CMS provider agreement – it determines whether the providers are able to receive reimbursements or not, which can be quite significant in some cases. If providers do not ensure compliance, not only will their agreements be in jeopardy, restricting them from receiving reimbursements, but they might also face penalties. Given the current healthcare crisis that has crippled almost every caregiver, more financial woes are something any provider would want to avoid. 

What the healthcare providers are doing

Since the deadline has been extended to May 1, 2021, leading figures of healthcare providers are brainstorming about how to comply with the change – should they build an in-house e-notification system themselves, or should they buy from experienced vendors? Whatever option providers go with, they are not addressing the elephant in the room – are they identifying patients accurately?

How identifying patients accurately is related to e-notifications

Think of it this way – patient identification in hospitals is already inaccurate. In fact, many healthcare providers face patient identification errors due to duplicate medical records, medical record overlays, and patient mix-ups, among other problems. These lead to issues like compromised patient safety, unwanted patient outcomes, avoidable medical errors, and even deaths.

So, it has already been established that if a hospital does not have an accurate patient identity management system, then it causes a lot of problems for the facility. Can you imagine what will happen if the hospital goes for an e-notification platform without identifying patients correctly first?

Issues like common names and characteristics shared by patients are already quite prevalent and cause patient mix-ups. If such a case occurs while sending out e-notifications, then the wrong patient’s data will be provided to the subsequent caregiver. Thus, patient mix-ups and incorrect patient identification cases during ADT notifications will wreak havoc – delays in treatments, medical errors, and lawsuits are just some of the consequences of such scenarios. It will be a nightmare for any given provider. Hospitals and health systems that are not identifying patients accurately at their facilities need to eliminate these errors to ensure CMS compliance and avoid any unwanted consequences. They need to ensure patient data integrity by ensuring positive patient identification every time a patient comes in. That’s where we can help.

Identifying patients accurately with RightPatient

CMS-compliance-requires-proper-patient-identification-for-e-notificationsRightPatient is the healthcare industry’s leading photo-based biometric patient identification platform. It seamlessly integrates with the major EHR systems and becomes part of the workflow. Patients are registered by locking their medical records with their photos. After enrollment, incoming patients only need to look at the camera and the platform matches the photos and provides accurate medical records within seconds. This ensures a safe, easy, touchless, and hygienic patient identification experience for everyone.

RightPatient ensures that the correct patient is identified every time across the care continuum, helping you maintain patient data integrity. With RightPatient, you can send out the correct patient’s notification every time, ensuring CMS compliance and safeguarding your patients and, in turn, your business.

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Patient identification error causes yet another grave mistake

Another day, another mistaken patient identification error. However, it was a bit different in this case. Two sisters were informed that their brother was on life support and that is the premise of the whole fiasco.

Patient identification error causes yet another grave mistake

The sisters, Rosie Brooks, and Brenda Bennett-Johnson received a call from an official that someone they believed to be their brother Alfonso was breathing with the help of a ventilator at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center of Chicago. However, the sisters stated that they didn’t talk much to their brother. The call started with someone enquiring about relatives of Alfonso, and Brooks replied that she was the sister, and then the official broke the news – that he was fighting for his life in the ICU, explaining that he was beaten quite severely, especially the face.

The Chicago police had found the man beaten to a pulp, and according to reports had neither clothes nor any means of identification on his body. A police spokesperson said that witnesses of the incident identified the injured man as one Elijah Bennett. Later on, he was rushed to the hospital and was on life support. 

During his time in the hospital, as nobody came looking for him, the hospital staff had to take the help of the police in identifying him. The spokesperson said that their database had no “Elijah Bennett,” however, they did find “Alfonso Bennett.” The police later on handed over a picture so that the hospital could help identify any family members of the unfortunate patient. All these events led to the call to Brooks, yet another patient identification error. 

When the sisters rushed to the hospital, they failed to identify the man as their brother Alfonso. However, CPD kept saying that it was their brother. According to the nurse, police used the help of mugshots to identify him, but due to budgetary issues, a proper ID could not be made. 

However, the patient’s situation was worsening, and the sisters faced a challenging situation – whether or not to remove his life support. With immeasurable sadness, they had to sign papers stating that this man was their brother and to remove his life support, and as expected, the man passed away, unfortunately.

After this series of events, the story did not end. After the untimely death of the “brother,” the sisters started making preparations for his funeral, to give him a proper sendoff. Before they could carry out the planning, however, what happened next was a scene out of a dramatic movie – the brother, Alfonso, walked right through the front door of the house of the one sister! She shouted over the phone to her other sister, exclaiming that the brother they had thought was dead is very much alive and healthy and that it almost gave her a heart attack. 

However, this newfound relief and happiness quickly turned into sadness, regret, and remorse – they realized that they had given the green light to end the life of a stranger, thinking it was their brother. They shared how they felt with the media and that they were extremely remorseful about deciding everything about someone unknown. However, the police, later on, identified the person with the help of fingerprints and started looking for his family. Everyone involved was deeply disturbed by this incident and thinking that there are no procedures or strategies to ensure such cases do not happen again in the future. However, this is not an isolated incident, as a very similar situation occurred in 2018. 

Many people are worried that as these incidents are recurring, there is no way to avoid this. They are wrong. RightPatient would have helped the situation in reducing such errors. It is a biometric patient identification system which, and with the help of iris scanning modality, it reduces not only any kind of patient identification error but is also safe, convenient, and quick. Since no physical contact is required, all it needs is a glance from the patient for registration and matching – thus being hygienic and easy to use for both patients and physicians. All these features help to enhance patient safety as well as improve the patient experience, reducing claims by 35% and saving a lot of costs of healthcare systems in the process.