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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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3 Patient Safety Measures Hospitals Must Take in a Post-Pandemic World

COVID-19 has changed reality for us – it has changed the way we lead our lives. Sanitizers, masks, and social distancing have become quite integral parts of our daily lives now. Wherever we go, social distancing practices are encouraged for a safer environment. However, it has shaken the healthcare systems of the world to their core, especially that of the U.S. With the highest number of cases in the world (as of now), hospitals are slowly opening their doors for regular patients. Keeping that in mind, hospitals must take patient safety measures while they are opening to ensure that patients receive care in a safe and hygienic environment. Let’s take a look at some common steps hospitals can take to prevent patient safety issues.

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Some insightful statistics

According to a survey by Sage Growth Partners, 24% of the respondents (healthcare professionals) believe that issues such as disparate EHRs and lack of actionable data at the point of care lead to patient safety issues.

Improving patient safety is also among the top three priorities of the respondents, besides delivering high-quality care and increasing efficiency and reducing costs – all of which can be done by ensuring accurate patient identification (more on that later). 

Let’s explore what kind of patient safety measures will help hospitals enhance patient care.

Patient safety measures that can help enhance patient care

Planning everything well in advance

While many might think that everything is slowly returning to normal, it’s quite the opposite. Working from home is still being utilized by most organizations, social distancing is still being practiced, and wearing masks and sanitizing regularly are still highly encouraged.

Since hospitals are opening slowly, they should plan every step carefully along with contingencies while keeping worst-case scenarios in mind. Hospitals need to plan the opening days and rather than opening the whole facility at once, they should open in phases. This will help reduce the risk of any mass outbreaks of COVID-19 – managing a mass outbreak at a single location will be much easier than managing outbreaks at all the facilities.

Also, hospitals should decide at what capacity will they operate and the duration for that testing phase. If all goes well, they can slowly increase the capacity of patients they will be serving. 

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Finally, the inventory required for all of the above needs to be planned to ensure that the necessary materials are available at all times. For instance, PPE has become quite critical, and these should be ordered well in advance before the stock runs out within the facilities. Thus, instead of reordering the materials when they’re at 30%, they should be reordered at, say, 45% – these are essential materials, after all.

Enforce safety measures for everyone

It goes without saying that every individual must practice a minimum level of social distancing to help themselves and others stay safe from the novel coronavirus. Sadly, not everyone follows that. Thus, the hospitals must enforce that everyone within the facility must follow the social distancing rules to a T. Not only is this one of the most common patient safety measures, but it also enhances safety for the physicians, nurses, and every other healthcare staff. 

Keep brightly colored posters in places where they will catch everyone’s attention. Place stickers on the floor with six feet between them to show where patients or caregivers must stand, especially in busy places like registration desks. Make sure that everyone is wearing masks and that sanitizers are available everywhere. Keeping the facilities hygienic is crucial to enhance patient safety.

Ensure accurate patient data

One of the most crucial factors that make or break patient safety is patient data, as the former is heavily reliant on the accuracy of patient data. Imagine this, if the patient is treated based on inaccurate patient data, they will face delayed or incorrect medications, leading to poor healthcare outcomes. One of the most common ways patient data gets corrupted is via duplicate records. 

If a patient has multiple records, there are high chances that the registrar will select the one with inconsistent or fragmented data, leading to adverse outcomes. Thus, ensuring that patient data integrity is maintained at all times is crucial for improving patient safety. Fortunately, RightPatient does all that – and more.

RightPatient is the leading patient identification platform used by healthcare providers like Terrebonne General Medical Center, Grady Health, and Catholic Health of Long Island. With a robust photo-based engine, it ensures that the patients are identified accurately at all times across the care continuum, helping patient data integrity by avoiding duplicate medical records. Moreover, it ensures that the patients are who they say they are and not impostors, preventing medical identity theft in real-time.

Finally, a platform like RightPatient is critical in a post-pandemic world because it is entirely touchless. Thus, it helps caregivers and patients operate in a hygienic environment by preventing infection control issues.

Use RightPatient now and enhance patient safety at your facilities, prevent medical identity theft, and prevent duplicate medical records – enhancing patient data integrity along the way.

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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.

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Top Reasons for Using a Robust Patient Identification Platform

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

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It eliminates risks associated with contact-based patient identification platforms

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

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

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

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

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

A robust patient identification platform helps avoid duplicate records and overlays

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

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

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

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

It prevents medical identity theft

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

It ensures that you send out proper e-notifications

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

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

RightPatient does all of the above – and more

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

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

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Data Breaches are Occurring During the Pandemic – Prevent Healthcare Identity Theft Now

Despite the relaxed rules and the U.S. slowly opening up, the COVID-19 crisis is still going strong. With no treatment found (as of yet), everyone is still feeling the effects of the coronavirus. However, there’s no doubt that the U.S. healthcare system has been affected more significantly than systems in other countries. For starters, the number of patients is overwhelming, the financial strain is unprecedented, not to mention the existing issues such as data breaches. When faced with so many impediments from all sides, how can providers prevent healthcare identity theft? Let’s explore some of the recent data breaches, how they lead to medical identity theft, and how a solution like RightPatient can protect patients and providers.

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Some recent cases

It’s not only healthcare providers – all types of healthcare organizations are being targeted by hackers.  Let’s review the healthcare organizations who became recent victims of data breaches.

Dynasplint Systems suffered a data breach that might have resulted in stolen health information. After an investigation, they identified that names, addresses, social security numbers, and other information might have been accessed or stolen. Over 102,800 people were affected.

Another healthcare organization, Pinnacle Clinical Research specializing in clinical trials, suffered a phishing attack. The breach consisted of clinical trial participants’ information. 

Mental Health Partners suffered a phishing attack as well – names, DOBs, social security numbers, among other information was potentially stolen.

How data breaches lead to healthcare identity theft

There are many other recent cases like the ones above. However, they have one thing in common – the hackers were after patient information. Any healthcare organization is a potential target for hackers. But why do hackers target them, especially for their patient information?

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After stealing the patient information, the data is sold on the black market for high prices. Since healthcare in the U.S. is quite expensive, the demand is high for the stolen information – those why buy the data believe that it’s worth buying, as opposed to getting healthcare coverage for themselves. When these fraudsters use the victims’ information, they get access to healthcare services, expensive medical devices, and treatments, whereas the victims get fraudulently charged with the costs.

That’s not all – patient safety is jeopardized as well. When the fraudsters use the victims’ medical information, the patient data gets corrupted as the fraudsters’ information and preferences are recorded in the victims’ medical records. Unless such healthcare identity theft cases are rectified, the patient will be receiving improper treatment based on a medical record consisting of corrupted patient data. These cases lead to repeated lab tests, delays in treatment, as well as negative patient outcomes. Healthcare providers also face litigation costs due to medical identity theft cases. 

With the pandemic still raging across the world, one would think that medical identity theft would be the last thing caregivers are worried about. While data breaches are quite inevitable, steps can be taken by healthcare providers to ensure patient safety.

How to prevent healthcare identity theft cases

Ensure HIPAA compliance and safeguard PHI

One way of protecting patient information is by getting back to the source – data breaches. Anyone familiar with healthcare in the U.S. has heard of HIPAA. The law basically sets the groundwork for protecting patient information known as PHI (protected health information). However, it’s quite a comprehensive and multilayered law – even the biggest healthcare providers have a hard time ensuring compliance as the rules and regulations change frequently. 

Even during the start of the pandemic, some rules were relaxed to ensure faster healthcare delivery. The bottom line is that if providers ensure HIPAA compliance, put enough safeguards in place, detect security vulnerabilities using internal audits, and are well versed about data breaches, they can protect themselves better against cybersecurity attacks. That’s what HIPAA Ready does – it is a simple but powerful HIPAA compliance software that keeps all the HIPAA related information centralized, helps you conduct internal audits to detect vulnerabilities, and helps you set up HIPAA training sessions to keep your employees up to date on the latest changes.

Ensure patient identification

Responsible healthcare providers can go the extra mile and add an extra security measure that no fraudster can pass through – even in the cases of data breaches. That’s where RightPatient comes in.

It is a touchless patient identification platform that uses a photo-based search engine to ensure that the patients are who they say they are and not some fraudster. During hospital visits, the platform takes a photo of a patient during enrollment and locks the medical record with it. If a fraudster attempts to commit healthcare identity theft, the platform will red flag the individual, preventing medical identity theft in real-time.

RightPatient has been helping leading healthcare providers for years now, and with its touchless platform, it is the only sensible option in a post-COVID-19 world.

Try RightPatient now and be a responsible healthcare provider.

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Dirty Patient Data Can Have Severe Consequences for Healthcare Providers

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

Prevent-dirty-patient-data-with-RightPatient

Patient data

A brief definition

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

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

“Dirty” patient information

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

Effects of unclean patient data

Inaccuracy and inefficient operations

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

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Huge losses

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

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

Patient safety is compromised

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

Non-compliance issues

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

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

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

Lower ROI

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

Keep patient data clean with RightPatient

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

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

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

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

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

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Providers Must Protect Patient Information to Enhance Patient Trust

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

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What does the data say?

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

According to the report:

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

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

Protect patient information by ensuring compliance

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

RightPatient helps protect patient information

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

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

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

Another reason why RightPatient is a must

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

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

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A Futureproof Patient Identification Protocol Can Help Mitigate Providers’ Losses

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

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

Hospitals expected to lose $323 billion in 2020!

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

The breakdown

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

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

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

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Some recent victims

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

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

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

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

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

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

An effective patient identification protocol can help

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

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

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

  • Is it preventing medical identity theft?

  • Is it preventing duplicate record creation?

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

  • Does it have a high acceptance rate among patients?

  • Is it futureproof?

RightPatient-can-improve-patient-identification-within-your-healthcare-facilities

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

Achieve accurate patient identification with RightPatient

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

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

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

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