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RightPatient-ensures-patient-protection-during-telemedicine-sessions

4 Practices Regarding Telemedicine That Enhance Patient Protection

COVID-19 is a phenomenon that will impact us for years to come, if not decades. It has shaken the entire world to its core and has changed everything we know. COVID-19 affected our daily lives, changed the way we interact with others, and made masks as well as sanitizers crucial necessities. Since many of the COVID-19 patients required urgent care, the US healthcare system had to come up with other ways for hospitals to serve non-COVID-19 patients without exposing them to the virus. Fortunately, tailor-made solutions already existed – telehealth and telemedicine being the biggest players. As a result, hospitals have been diverting a significant portion of their non-critical patients to virtual sessions – changing healthcare and the patient experience forever. That being said, let’s explore what the patients think about telehealth, what experts are saying about it, and how to ensure patient protection while improving quality and safety in healthcare facilities.

RightPatient-ensures-patient-protection-during-telemedicine-sessions

How telemedicine came into play

Since the novel coronavirus hit the US, it has been overwhelming healthcare providers, their frontline teams, and virtually everyone who is involved in the caregiving process. Due to capacity restrictions and patient safety concerns, caregivers had to redirect at least one-third of their less critical patients to telemedicine. Naturally, its usage shot up significantly in the beginning, and while it has been declining for some time, it is expected to increase as COVID-19 cases are once again rising. The bottom line is that telemedicine and telehealth are here to stay, although some issues need to be addressed.

Let’s take a look at what over a million end users, i.e. patients, think of telemedicine, according to a recent survey by Press Ganey.

Patients’ perceptions regarding telemedicine

The first thing to highlight is that while most patients do appreciate the convenience telemedicine offers, it has a lot of wrinkles to iron out to make it seamless and more effective.

The good things

While many patients were being exposed to virtual visits for the first time, they did find it satisfactory. Many even said that they were likely to give good ratings to their caregivers after virtual visits, just as much as they would during inpatient ones. Telemedicine could successfully lead to a bond between the patient and the physician, and many patients felt that their physicians were more attentive during these virtual sessions. A patient even noted that during inpatient visits doctors would be looking at their computer screens anyway, which felt like they were distracted. During the virtual visits, however, the doctor had direct eye contact with her. 

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What needs improvement

While telemedicine itself is good, the process and ease of getting to virtual visits are not – these need significant improvements, especially with scheduling sessions and making audio or video connections.

However, there are a few more issues that require attention which, according to experts, might hamper patient protection – let’s dive in.

Experts are worried about patient protection

Healthcare data breaches have been increasing significantly, and are occurring even now. Moreover, the risk of a breach is higher during virtual sessions, ultimately endangering patient data. Healthcare providers need to strengthen their security measures and ensure patient protection during virtual visits. With restrictions eased regarding communication tools like Zoom, Skype, and similar utilities, as well as hackers turning their attention to virtual sessions, patient data security is at more risk than ever.

Practices that improve patient protection during virtual visits

Provide training and ensure awareness 

There is nothing more effective than raising awareness among your employees, and the best way to do this is by providing them with training. Clearly explain to them the consequences of data breaches, and also provide them with sessions where they can learn about the do’s and don’ts regarding emails, opening links, accessing patient data, etc.

Follow practices that safeguard patient information

Encrypting data might be the oldest trick in the book, but it can make it difficult for hackers to use the information.

A few practices must be followed to ensure patient protection during both virtual and inpatient visits:

  • Ensure that patient data is encrypted during rest and transmission.
  • Use reputed antivirus and firewall applications.
  • Use only verified and licensed software and keep them updated.
  • Restrict access to any unauthorized parties.

Use enterprise-level video conferencing platforms

While hospitals initially got the chance to use tools such as Zoom, Skype, Meet, etc., these have added cybersecurity risks. Telemedicine has grown significantly now, with many enterprise-grade platforms available that have enhanced security out of the box. While deploying them might be costly, they can be critical for ensuring patient protection during virtual sessions, eliminating the chance of hackers gaining access during these sessions.

Use solutions to mitigate risks and ensure patient protection

While there are many practices and strategies available that might strengthen cybersecurity efforts, hackers always come up with plans that ultimately could result in data breaches. Moreover, not all caregivers can upgrade their security measures due to several factors, especially budgetary constraints. As a result, having a response plan to mitigate the risks and consequences is crucial. Also, while it might seem like data breaches are unstoppable, medical identity theft is not – it can be prevented with RightPatient.

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that uses patients’ faces to identify their records. Moreover, it is versatile enough to be used at any touchpoint across the facility – making it perfect for virtual visits.

After scheduling appointments, patients need to provide a personal photo and a photo of their driver’s license; RightPatient automatically extracts the data and compares the photos for a positive match, verifying identities remotely. New patients are provided with unique biometric credentials. If a fraudster attempts to assume the identity of the patient, the platform will red-flag them, preventing medical identity theft in real-time. 

During inpatient visits, enrolled patients only need to look at the camera – the platform runs a search to identify the patient and provides the correct medical record within seconds.

By doing so, RightPatient can prevent medical identity theft even after data breaches, protecting patient information, eliminating litigation costs, and mitigating the consequences.

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Improving Remote Patient Outcomes by Addressing 5 Elements

The pandemic has been an unprecedented event that has taken much away from us since it started. However, hospitals in the affected countries felt its heat the most, and arguably the worst affected one is the US healthcare system. COVID-19 forced hospitals to divert regular patients to telehealth, leading to the explosive growth that it very much needed. Since telehealth is here to stay, more and more caregivers are adopting it and allocating resources for their online patients. While doing so, healthcare providers need to ensure that patient outcomes are optimal and immaculate.

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Let’s take a look at five elements healthcare providers need to consider and address to improve the patient outcomes of their remote patients.

5 addressable elements that can improve online patient outcomes

Catering to patients’ expectations

While telehealth has been around for quite some time in the US healthcare system, healthcare providers and patients did not pay much attention to it. Experts kept arguing about its merits and drawbacks, whereas patients were reluctant to try it. 

Telehealth achieved mainstream popularity only after the pandemic hit the US, and after almost a year, both patients and caregivers still might need some adjustments. For starters, caregivers need to identify patients’ expectations and work on addressing them.

A seamless check-in process and reduced wait times are good starting points, as these are some common requests. Moreover, if there are any temporary issues with the service, patients need to be notified immediately to avoid dissatisfaction. Conducting small and engaging surveys is another good strategy to determine what patients expect during the virtual sessions.

Training telehealth staff members

One of the best ways to improve online healthcare outcomes is by ensuring that patients have the best possible experience, and that can be done only if the telehealth team works effectively.

As already mentioned, telehealth is quite new to virtually everyone, and providing training sessions to the telehealth teams is a must to ensure that they use this solution to its maximum potential.

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Not only can training help improve efficiency, but it can also help caregivers provide patients with a seamless, intuitive, and engaging experience, improving patient outcomes in the process.

Ensuring ample security

Patient safety and confidentiality are necessities that any and all healthcare providers must ensure, and virtual sessions are no different. Something that is often brought up in regard to telehealth is security – data breaches are at an all-time high. Experts have been predicting that there will be fraudulent cases during telehealth sessions, as hackers and fraudsters may try to disrupt the entire session.

Hospitals and health systems must ensure that ample safeguards are used to protect patient information, prevent data breaches, and identity medical theft. Caregivers must go the extra mile and ensure that patient outcomes are error-free, safe, and optimal. 

However, while data breaches have so far been inevitable, medical identity theft is not. It can be prevented, but more on that later.

Ensuring reliability

A solution is as good as its reliability, and the same goes for telehealth options. Healthcare providers have a variety of options – they can either choose from the vast number of third-party solutions, or they can develop their own in-house. Whichever option they choose, healthcare providers must ensure that the solution is reliable and doesn’t break down unexpectedly or under pressure. If it fails, it can result in detrimental patient outcomes. For instance, equipment or technology breaking down in the middle of a telehealth session can be potentially dangerous for the patients, especially those who need urgent care.

While choosing third-party telehealth solutions, reading reviews can be quite helpful to determine their reliability. Also, pilot testing them provides a first-hand experience as to how reliable they are in real-time.

Ensure accurate patient identification for improved patient outcomes

Patient identification errors have been a prevalent but overlooked issue within the US healthcare system, and while many caregivers are still struggling with it during the pandemic, it will very likely be an issue during telehealth sessions as well. Imagine this: if the patient is misidentified right from the start and the wrong EHR (Electronic Health Record) is used, then the entire process will be full of errors. Moreover, as previously mentioned, medical identity theft during telehealth services is a growing concern. However, all of this can be mitigated with RightPatient.

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that is used by responsible caregivers to accurately identify their patients. It locks patients’ medical records with their photos and their biometric data during registration. Moreover, it is versatile enough to be used at any touchpoint across the healthcare facility, making it ideal for virtual sessions like telehealth and telemedicine. 

Patients receive an SMS or email after scheduling their appointments, after which they have to provide a personal photo and a photo of their driver’s license. RightPatient automatically compares the photos for a match, ensuring correct patient identification. 

Within healthcare facilities, the patient only needs to look at the camera – RightPatient performs a biometric search and provides the correct medical record after finding a positive match.

Not only does RightPatient prevent medical record mix-ups, but it also red-flags fraudsters, preventing medical identity theft even after a data breach and improving patient outcomes in the process.

RightPatient-ensures-positive-patient-outcomes

Positive Patient Outcomes Are Still Hampered by Patient Identification Issues

At this point in time, virtually everyone knows about the coronavirus pandemic, unless they have been living under a rock. Unfortunately, COVID-19’s effects on the US have been disastrous, especially on its healthcare system. The numbers for the US are mindboggling – over 13 million people have contracted COVID-19, whereas over 268,000 people have lost their lives. Moreover, cases are increasing rapidly as was predicted by experts. Things are more serious than ever – restrictions are being placed in many states, encouraging social distancing and fewer social gatherings. Suffice to say, the novel coronavirus has been pushing healthcare to its limits. While doing so, it has also highlighted the existing issues that have been hampering positive patient outcomes for years and need to be addressed quickly.

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Let’s take a closer look at one of the overlooked but more prominent issues – patient misidentification, why it’s such a mess, what caregivers are doing to address it, and how RightPatient ensures positive patient identification for responsible caregivers.

Patient misidentification and how it hampers positive patient outcomes

It is quite straightforward – patient misidentification refers to patients being associated with the wrong, incomplete, inconsistent, or fragmented EHR (electronic health record). This usually happens at registration desks as well as EDs (emergency departments). But it sounds so simple, right? Actually, patient identification errors are much more complicated than that. 

Both registration desks and EDs are high-pressure environments where patients’ EHRs need to be identified quickly and accurately. Unfortunately, issues such as duplicate medical records, common patient names or demographics, and basic search functionalities lead to confusion, after which patient record mix-ups occur. While this was a simplified example, this is how most misidentification cases occur, leading to lower positive patient outcomes down the line.

Thousands of patients are affected every year – facing delayed care, repeated lab tests, shocking bills, detrimental healthcare outcomes, medical errors, and even deaths. Using an effective, standardized patient identifier across the hospitals would be enough to eliminate such issues, but there’s a snag.

Why is patient identification such a mess?

Well, a state-funded UPI (unique patient identifier) was supposed to be created to ensure accurate patient identification, eliminating all the issues associated with mix-ups, and ensuring positive patient outcomes. Fast forward around two decades, and there’s still not a national patient identifier on the horizon.

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A ban has been in effect since the beginning – Section 510 of the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill restricts the use of federal funding to allow HHS (the US Department of Health and Human Services) from creating or adopting a unique patient identifier.

For the past twenty years or so, healthcare providers have been struggling with patient identification errors and as a result, are experiencing duplicate medical records, overlays, detrimental healthcare outcomes, lower scores, denied claims, and more. Moreover, medical identity theft can be prevented in real-time if patients can be properly identified during registration.

While it has been an overlooked issue, patient misidentification has been causing adverse outcomes during the pandemic – repeated testing, medical errors, lost results, and so on. Imagine if a COVID-19 test result was sent to the wrong person and they were admitted into the isolation wing! 

What healthcare providers are doing

Every year, healthcare providers and experts come together to urge Congress and the Senate to abolish the ban so that a unique patient identifier can be made. Unfortunately, they’ve been turned down every year, leading to another year of struggle.

However, responsible healthcare providers are not waiting around for a unique patient identifier – they are implementing effective solutions to prevent mix-ups, the most feasible one being RightPatient.

RightPatient ensures positive patient outcomes

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification solution that has been helping responsible healthcare providers for years. It uses the patients’ faces to verify their identities and provide accurate medical records within seconds.

After appointment scheduling, patients need to provide a selfie and a photo of their driver’s license. RightPatient automatically compares the photos for a match, verifying patient identification remotely. New patients are provided with biometric credentials for future use. It locks the medical records with patients’ photos to prevent mix-ups. Moreover, the platform is flexible enough to be used at any touchpoint, making it ideal for telehealth sessions too. 

Within hospitals, the patients only need to look at the camera – the platform compares the live picture with the one saved with the EHR. The accurate medical records are provided within seconds, ensuring positive patient identification, enhancing healthcare outcomes, and preventing medical errors and all other issues associated with misidentification. Moreover, it can red-flag fraudsters who try to assume patients’ identities, preventing medical identity theft in real-time.

RightPatient is the most feasible patient identification solution currently because it is contactless – leading to a more hygienic environment and reducing infection control issues, something which is crucial for COVID-19.

Even if the UPI gets approval in the future, it will take years for it to be created, implemented, and be effective. Forward-thinking caregivers will thus be coupling it with an experienced patient identifier like RightPatient to ensure immaculate identification across the care continuum.

Healthcare providers such as Baptist Health South Florida, MediSys Health, Grady Health, and Catholic Health Services of Long Island have been using RightPatient to ensure positive patient outcomes, eliminate misidentification, and ensure patient safety across their facilities.

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2021’s Patient Safety Goals Show that Patient Identification Is the Topmost Concern

This has been a devastating year all around for the entire world due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects. Even though there have been a lot of issues within the US healthcare system that surfaced during the pandemic, one of the more prominent problems healthcare providers faced (and are still facing) is patient identification errors. Experts have talked about and how patient misidentification is detrimental to both patient safety and quality healthcare. Thus, it isn’t surprising that improving the accuracy of patient identification takes the top spot of 2021’s patient safety goals as per the Joint Commission.

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Let’s take a look at the new goals set by the Joint Commission, why improving patient identification can help achieve the other goals, and how RightPatient can help healthcare providers.

Patient safety goals for next year

The Joint Commission outlines the top patient safety concerns that healthcare providers must address each year based on available information. Patient identification has been on the list almost constantly because errors can cause a lot of adverse effects for patient safety, healthcare outcomes, hospitals’ finances, etc. – more on that later.

Let’s take a look at the national patient safety goals for the upcoming year 2021:

  • Identify patients accurately.
  • Improve staff communication.
  • Safely use medicines.
  • Reduce patient harm by improving clinical alarm systems.
  • Reduce hospital-acquired infections.
  • Identify patient safety risks within the healthcare facility.
  • Prevent surgical mistakes.

While these are different issues, some of these patient safety goals can be met, or at least the unwanted incidents can be reduced, by ensuring accurate patient identification with RightPatient.

How patient identification ties in with other patient safety goals

While patient identification errors might seem trivial to some, there have been many complaints about the different problems which were consequences of misidentification – not finding the accurate medical record, delays in care, repeated tests, etc. As a result, many healthcare experts are clamoring for the mythical national patient identifier once again this year. However, national patient identifier or not, patient identification must be accurate to mitigate patient safety issues. Moreover, by ensuring accurate patient identification, other patient safety goals can be met – let’s explore how.

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Improving staff communication

Communication is crucial for ensuring improved healthcare outcomes and reducing patient safety incidents across the care continuum. By ensuring that patient data is accurate and consistent, it will enhance outcomes, as most patient safety incidents occur when patient data is corrupted, fragmented, obsolete, or inconsistent.

When patients are accurately identified every time at any touchpoint across the hospital, it helps maintain patient data integrity, ensures that the correct information regarding the patient is used, leading to accurate test results being passed to the appropriate personnel at the right time.

Safely use medicines

Many patient safety incidents occur because of simply giving the wrong patients the wrong medicine, incorrect doses, and/or at the wrong time, leading to preventable medical errors. While clearly labeling and rechecking do help, many medical errors occur because of patient misidentification. For instance, if the patient is misidentified right from registration, rechecking the name or information won’t help, as it belongs to someone else entirely.

If patients are accurately identified from the start, not only will patient misidentification be eliminated, but medical errors will be prevented too, enhancing patient safety and improving healthcare outcomes in the process.

Prevent surgical mistakes

This is somewhat related to the previous point, but medical record mix-ups do lead to the wrong surgeries being performed as well. If the patient is misidentified during registration, rechecking won’t help, as it will lead to the wrong surgery being performed on the wrong patient. 

Only by identifying patients accurately at the front-end can mistakes such as patient record mix-ups be prevented effectively.

Reduce hospital-acquired infections

Now, how can patient identification reduce hospital-acquired infections (HAIs)?

Well, as there is no standardized patient identifier present in the US healthcare system, many caregivers are using different solutions to fit their needs. However, many of these solutions can be ineffective and are touch-based, which is a major challenge, given the pandemic. These touch-based solutions can lead to infection control issues, as they require contact by multiple individuals. If an infected person uses it, the subsequent patients will be infected as well, leading to a disastrous situation.

However, many caregivers are using innovative solutions such as RightPatient – a touchless biometric patient identification platform. It uses the patients’ photos to ensure that the patients are who they claim to be, preventing patient identification errors, mix-ups, duplicate medical records, and more. It can also be used across any touchpoint, starting from appointment scheduling.

How RightPatient works – improving patient safety

Patients need to provide a selfie and a photo of their driver’s license – the platform automatically compares them for a match, remotely verifying their identities. During inpatient visits, the patients only need to look at the camera – the platform provides accurate medical records within seconds after comparing the live picture with the saved one.

RightPatient thus prevents HAIs as it is a contactless solution, enhancing patient safety, improving patient outcomes, and reducing preventable medical errors across the care continuum.

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Patient Safety and Communication are Critical as Patient Visits Return to Pre-pandemic Levels

COVID-19 has changed everything in unparalleled ways. Gone are the days when we could hang out casually with friends, be safe without PPE, and commute without the fear of catching the virus. It is quite natural that COVID-19 has impacted organizations and industries as well, and arguably, the US healthcare system is facing the worst consequences. The pandemic has affected every aspect of healthcare as we know it, and healthcare providers will be facing the consequences for years. They were forced to postpone elective procedures and outpatient visits to accommodate the surge of COVID-19 patients. While that was at the beginning of the year, many caregivers are now witnessing increased outpatient visits. Let’s take a look at some numbers regarding the fluctuation of outpatient visits, what caregivers should focus on now, and how patient safety and communication can be achieved with positive patient identification.

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What has been the situation since the pandemic hit?

While the novel coronavirus has rattled almost every country’s healthcare system, America’s is the one it hit the worst. In addition to the many pre-existing issues with the healthcare system, the US has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world. In order to make room for the numerous COVID-19 cases, as already mentioned, caregivers had to cancel elective surgeries and also encourage non-critical patients to opt for telehealth visits. 

Updates regarding outpatient visits

The Commonwealth Fund was closely following the updates of patient volumes within hospitals – let’s take a look at the numbers.

Outpatient visits took a significant hit – they had reduced by almost 60% during the early stages of the pandemic. The update provided by the Commonwealth Fund during May showed that patients were returning for outpatient visits, however, they were still one-third lower compared to pre-pandemic numbers. Also, the latest report shows that weekly outpatient visits are somewhat higher now, compared to the pre-pandemic period.

Outpatient visits vary

While this is a good sign for healthcare providers, it must be noted that these vary greatly depending on age, location, specialty, etc. For instance, in-person visits from younger patients are still lower than they were before the pandemic. Visits are higher for urologists, dermatologists, and adult PCPs, whereas behavioral health providers are experiencing lower visits. More Medicare patients are coming for inpatient visits compared to the pre-pandemic period. Telemedicine visits were higher when inpatient visits declined, but its usage is declining. However, its usage is still much higher than it was before the pandemic.

Ensure-patient-safety-across-the-care-continuum-with-RightPatient

All these comparisons show that providers and patients are adapting to the new normal. Many patients are suffering from complex diseases and, due to the pandemic, they have been postponing healthcare visits for far too long. However, since restrictions are being lifted, patients are returning for outpatient visits in order to avail healthcare services. While providers are opening their doors to treat patients, they also need to ramp up their patient safety and communication efforts. After all, the post-pandemic world is completely new for everyone – there’s no tried and tested formula to ensure everyone’s safety. Healthcare providers also must make sure that their patients are not contracting COVID-19. Let’s see how this can be a possibility.

How patient safety and communication are hampered

All of the patients of any given hospital must first be identified. This happens either at the registration desks or within the emergency department. Different caregivers have different patient identity verification methods in place. Now, many caregivers either use inefficient methods, like questioning patients, or use solutions that have become outdated, such as contact-based patient identification platforms. 

When asking patients questions, there are high chances that the registrar or nurse will identify the wrong medical record – they might need to find the record from an EHR system that contains thousands. Moreover, duplicate medical records are quite prevalent. Whatever the case may be, such inefficient methods hamper patient safety, lead to poor communication, and adversely impact patient outcomes.

While many used touch-based solutions to identify patients before the pandemic, COVID-19 has rendered these solutions unsatisfactory. Many caregivers have witnessed significantly lower utilization of these solutions – patients simply are reluctant to touch them. This is because of the pandemic and the fear of contracting the virus, which is not unreasonable. Every patient of any given hospital is processed from registration desks and EDs – can you imagine how disastrous it would be if one of them had COVID-19? Once the infected patient touches the device, it would lead to everyone else becoming infected. Before, infection control was a common headache of caregivers, and now it is a concern for patients too. Touch-based solutions have always had an impact on patient safety, but only the most forward-thinking caregivers foresaw this. That’s why they went with RightPatient, improving patient safety and communication in the process.

RightPatient enhances patient safety

RightPatient is the leading patient identification platform used by caregivers who prioritize patient safety. It’s an entirely touchless solution that uses a powerful photo-based engine and patients’ faces to identify them across the care continuum. 

Whenever patients arrive at the hospital, all they need to do is look at the camera – the platform matches the saved photo taken during registration with the present one, ensuring an entirely touchless, hygienic, and safe experience for everyone involved. This eliminates the risk of contracting infectious diseases and enhances patient safety.

By identifying patients accurately right from appointment scheduling, as well as other touchpoints, RightPatient ensures patient data integrity by preventing data corruption, improving communication across the care continuum and reducing the chances of medical errors based on incorrect patient data.

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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.

Top-Reasons-for-Using-a-Robust-Patient-Identification-Platform-like-RightPatient

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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Lack of Proper Patient ID Leads to “Professional Patients”

Patient ID issues have always been prevalent in the U.S. healthcare system – we help solve these issues for healthcare providers. Today, however, we won’t talk about patient identification issues that exist in hospitals and healthcare systems – we will focus on the fact that the problem extends beyond the average provider. Unfortunately, many patients take advantage of the lack of a proper patient identity verification system and go repeatedly to their providers’ facilities and take advantage of healthcare services. Did you know that this happens within clinical trials as well? Let’s learn more.

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The importance of clinical trials

Clinical trials have a significant impact on conventional healthcare. They lead to breakthroughs that boost healthcare outcomes, reduce recovery times, and can even provide medicine to treat complex and previously untreatable diseases. When considering this topic, COVID-19 would likely pop up in most people’s minds. That’s what the whole world is fighting against currently, and the proposed vaccines developed by leading professionals are going through several clinical trials to determine the effectiveness of the vaccines and whether they have any undesirable side effects.

Thus, the importance of clinical trials is paramount for everyone involved. Likewise, the individuals who volunteer, known as clinical research patients, are essential as well. Let’s see what their motivations are to participate in these activities and what factors are at play that might put the entire trial at risk.

The lack of patient ID systems hurts clinical trials

Patients who participate in clinical trials are well compensated for volunteering. Many do it for altruistic reasons, and while compensation is based on the risks involved, the research is also vetted by an institutional review board. This is done to determine whether anybody enlisted solely for monetary benefits – many patients even enlist in multiple trials or sites. But why do they do so? How do they affect the integrity of the trials? How can an effective patient ID platform prevent this issue?

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Professional patients

There are some types of clinical trials where the financial benefits are quite lucrative for individuals who join more than one trial or participate at multiple sites simultaneously. Naturally, many do join these trials and expose themselves to either multiple doses of the same drug or single doses of multiple drugs undergoing testing. These types of patients cannot afford the money to pay for healthcare and thus sign up for multiple trials – they participate to gain access to both the treatment and the compensation. This is just one type of “professional patient” – let’s look at others.

The other type of professional patients falsify information regarding their medical condition – they don’t have the required condition but want to be a part of the trial. They can falsify information regarding the results and effects of the trial to show that they are participating – only to receive the compensation. As you can imagine, their participation in clinical trials may be extremely dangerous.

Another type of professional patient is individuals who actually have the required medical condition but they fake the results – they don’t want to be treated for the condition. These are quite common in trials involving research into treatment for addiction.

The consequences of professional patients

Getting exposed to multiple drugs that are still undergoing testing can lead to adverse effects for the patients. Other than patient safety, the reliability of the trials will be reduced due to integrity failure. Overall, the trials will experience significant losses due to the actions of a few. 

COVID-19 has already claimed over 965,000 lives while experts around the world are racing against time to come up with a cure so that we can finally go back to leading normal lives. If these professional patients participate in the clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine, the affected trials will be rendered useless due to the unreliable data these patients will provide. Even when a vaccine is developed it will lose credibility due to professional patients, delaying the most significant breakthrough we need. Is there any way to stop these harmful practices and ensure data integrity of clinical trials?

An accurate patient ID platform is the key

Professional patients are getting smarter about how to enter clinical trials now that information is available on social media. However, if there was an effective patient identification platform in place, it would be enough to prevent professional patients’ participation right from the start. That’s where we can help.

RightPatient is the leading touchless patient identification platform used by healthcare providers. They are using it to protect millions of patient records and prevent duplicates in their EHR systems by ensuring that patients are identified correctly across the care continuum.  

Since RightPatient has both the experience and expertise, it can easily prevent professional patients in clinical trials from fraudulent participation. This leads not only to enhanced safety of the participants within the trials but also makes the data immaculate and reliable – speeding up the trials and reducing losses along the way.

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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.

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Hospitals expected to lose $323 billion in 2020!

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

The breakdown

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

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

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

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Some recent victims

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

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

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

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

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

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

An effective patient identification protocol can help

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

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

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

  • Is it preventing medical identity theft?

  • Is it preventing duplicate record creation?

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

  • Does it have a high acceptance rate among patients?

  • Is it futureproof?

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

Achieve accurate patient identification with RightPatient

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

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

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

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

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Hospitals Might Lose $323 Billion – Reduce Yours by Ensuring Patient Data Security

Healthcare around the world has been arguably facing one of its biggest challenges yet, and the US healthcare system is no exception to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. While there are spikes in COVID-19 cases, things are looking quite bleak for the financial performance of hospitals this year. To be exact, over a staggering $323 billion could be lost only in 2020! Is there any solution to mitigate the losses? RightPatient might be the answer – as it ensures patient data security and prevents medical identity theft in real-time. Let’s explore.

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Unimaginable hospital losses

It is quite simple – due to the pandemic, hospitals had to focus more on the overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients, and thus, stopped treating regular patients. While this was expected, the financial losses are still huge.

According to the American Hospital Association, healthcare providers have reported declines of 34.5% in outpatient volume and 1.5% in inpatient volume, on average. Projected losses for the duration of March–June 2020 have been around $202 billion. Moving forward, the AHA estimates that the second half of 2020 will incur a loss of around $120.5 billion for providers – leading to an unprecedented sum of $323 billion in losses for the year 2020. However, the AHA does warn that this might be an understatement – the numbers might go even higher.

Providers do not expect losses to reduce for the rest of the year either. The AHA’s president has even stated that the US healthcare system is facing the biggest financial crisis in its history due to the pandemic as well as reduced patient numbers.

While the US federal government has provided over $170 billion as emergency funding for the providers, many fear that it might not be enough to overcome the heavy losses.

Medical identity theft is on the rise

Ensure-patient-data-security-and-prevent-medical-ID-theft-with-RightPatientWhile COVID-19 and its long-lasting effects are raging on, that has not stopped hackers from attempting to steal sensitive patient data through healthcare data breaches. Security experts have stated that there is a huge opportunity for hackers to steal patient data since it is rich with valuables like Social Security numbers, insurance information, and so on. Moreover, they can sell patient records for up to $1000.

Healthcare in the US is expensive, and that is the reason why medical identity theft is so common. Fraudsters simply buy the patient data from the black market, and do not need to worry about any more healthcare expenses – the fraudulent bills are passed on to the shoulders of the victims. As can be seen, ensuring patient data security is quite important.

Medical identity theft not only hampers the patients financially – it affects patient safety as well. When a fraudster uses the patient data to gain access to healthcare services such as expensive procedures, medications, and equipment, their data is recorded into the victims’ patient records. Thus, the patients might further suffer from incorrect medications and procedures based on an altered medical history, making patient data security a topmost priority, even during the pandemic.

Ensure patient data security with RightPatient

RightPatient has been protecting millions of patient records for leading healthcare providers for years. It is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that locks the medical records of the patients with their photos upon registration. After enrollment, all the patients need to do is look at the camera and the platform matches the photos and provides the correct patient record within seconds. Thus, if a fraudster comes by, he/she will be red-flagged, preventing medical identity theft.

Moreover, due to the pandemic, patient identification in hospitals needs to be upgraded to a touchless platform like RightPatient to prevent infection control issues and enhance patient safety. RightPatient meets all the requirements for any given health system or hospital by preventing medical identity theft, ensuring patient data security, enhancing patient safety, and preventing duplicate record creation, boosting the bottom lines. Reduce your losses by using RightPatient and protecting patient records now.