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

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

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Healthcare data breaches are becoming increasingly common

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

UHS reportedly suffered a huge breach

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

Ashtabula County Medical Center

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

What are healthcare providers saying regarding data breaches?

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

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Healthcare data breaches generate medical identity theft

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

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

RightPatient mitigates the losses associated with data breaches

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

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

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

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

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Medical Identity Theft Prevention Becomes Crucial as Telehealth Usage Rises

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

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Telehealth is becoming mainstream

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

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

More scheduled virtual visits compared to urgent care visits

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

Virtual specialty care is growing rapidly

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

More patients were opting for telehealth

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

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

Medical identity theft prevention must be ensured

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

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

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

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

RightPatient ensures medical identity theft prevention

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

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

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Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Can be Achieved with Positive Patient Identification

Among the several issues faced by the US healthcare system, one of the more prominent is patient misidentification. We know this to be true because even during the coronavirus pandemic, experts have stated that patient matching issues were continuing. Moreover, coalitions were formed to demand the fabled “unique patient identifier” once again. But why do healthcare providers demand patient identifiers time and again? Let’s take a look at some statistics that show how serious the issue is, some consequences caused by the absence of effective patient identification, and how patient safety and quality improvement are related to it.

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Patient identification issues are nothing new

The last decade has been a transition towards technology for the US healthcare system. Caregivers such as physician practices, hospitals, and health systems have made the jump from traditional paper medical records towards the more standard electronic health records (EHRs). However, as they did so, they saw the issues that occurred due to the absence of an effective patient identifier nationwide. One of the biggest challenges is matching patients to their accurate medical record whenever they arrive for healthcare services. Let’s review some recent statistics about how common misidentifications are. 

Some stats to back it up

According to a study conducted by eHealth Initiative, approximately 38% of the respondents have suffered from an unwanted event caused by patient misidentification within the last 2 years. Many of these events are caused by duplicate medical records, and an overwhelming 66% of the respondents blame data entry errors that lead to duplicates. Moreover, 80% of the providers have dedicated FTEs (full-time employees) or third-party contractors to solve these issues. The biggest barriers to reducing poor patient matching were the lack of prioritization and the lack of technology. 32% of the caregivers stated that they had around 3-10% duplicates within their EHR systems. All of these statistics show that patient misidentification is growing and needs to be addressed by caregivers. Fortunately, many hospitals and health systems are already using touchless patient identification platforms like RightPatient to solve these issues, but more on that later. Let’s see how patient misidentification is a barrier to patient safety and quality improvement.

Patient misidentification hampers patient safety and quality improvement

While patient misidentification causes a lot of problems for any given caregiver and patient, let’s take a look at how it impacts patient safety, and in turn, healthcare quality.

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Patient misidentification is closely related to duplicate medical records

Duplicates can lead to patient misidentification and vice versa. For instance, if a patient comes in and provides their nickname instead of the name on the medical record, the registrar won’t be able to accurately identify the medical record. Thus, after failing to find the record, a new one gets created, leading to another duplicate record within the EHR system.

Likewise, if there are many duplicates within the system against the same patient, there are high chances that all of them have incomplete and inconsistent information. This will lead to matching the patient to the improper medical record. Both of these scenarios will lead to incorrect procedures, adversely impacting patient safety.

Patient misidentification hampers patient data integrity

As previously stated, data entry errors are quite common during registration. Thus, if patients are associated with the wrong medical record, they will be treated based on someone else’s medical history, illnesses, allergies, and so on. One single pill can severely impact the patient’s health – one can imagine what would happen if the whole procedure was wrong! Such cases have led to delayed care, repeated lab tests, and compromised patient safety.

Patient misidentification leads to medical errors

Quite closely tied with the previous point, patient safety and quality improvement cannot be achieved if medical errors keep occurring. While medical errors happen for a variety of reasons, many are preventable, and as stated previously, 38% of the healthcare providers surveyed reported that they suffered from medical errors tied to patient misidentification. These errors could have easily been prevented had the caregivers used robust patient identity matching solutions.

Patient safety and quality improvement is achievable with RightPatient

Leading healthcare providers such as Catholic Health Services of Long Island, Terrebonne General Medical Center, Community Medical Centers, among others, have been using RightPatient and improving patient safety and quality of care. As the healthcare industry’s leading touchless patient identification platform, RightPatient has years of experience helping hospitals and health systems identify patients’ accurate medical records across the continuum of care. The platform uses patients’ photos to identify their accurate medical records, prevent medical identity theft, avoid duplicate records, and prevent medical errors – enhancing patient safety and ensuring a hygienic environment that will be crucial in a post-pandemic world.

Contact us right away to learn how we can help you achieve your goals.

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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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Patient Safety and Quality Can Be Improved by Preventing Duplicate Medical Records

Patient safety is one of the more integral aspects of any given healthcare system. It ensures that patients are getting the required treatment without any medical errors or harm, healthcare outcomes are optimal, and healthcare services are delivered to the highest possible standard. While those are the common aims, the reality is quite different in the U.S. healthcare system. It has always been inundated with a number of serious issues – healthcare data breaches, medical identity theft, patient identification issues, lack of price transparency, and duplicate medical records are just some of them.  The root cause of many of the issues are duplicate medical records. While we already had a closer look at duplicate medical records and how it impacts revenue cycle optimization, let’s have a look at how preventing duplicates can lead to enhanced patient safety and quality, among other things.

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How duplicates impact patient safety and quality of healthcare

In a previous article, we’ve already seen how medical record errors like duplicates and overlays are created and how they cause claim denials. Let’s see how they impact patient safety and quality of healthcare as well.

AHIMA’s Shannon Harris and Shannon H. Houser stated in an issue of the Journal of AHIMA that duplicates and overlays don’t only cause financial woes, but lead the physicians and healthcare staff to inadvertently causing medical errors. For instance, imagine that a single patient has duplicate medical records in a hospital’s EHR system. While treating the patient, the physician will see the duplicates but chooses the one that has obsolete information. Since the information is not updated, the treatment or medication might very well cause adverse effects. Such cases might even lead to transferring the patients for emergency treatments, leading to jeopardized patient outcomes.

That’s not the only way duplicate medical records impact patient safety and quality of healthcare – let’s look at the latter. When you have fragmented information within duplicate records, issues such as repeated lab tests and delays in treatment are quite common. Since the majority of the healthcare providers’ registration systems have ineffective patient identity matching techniques, the number of duplicates keeps on increasing, leading to patient safety issues, patient data corruption, and financial troubles in the form of denied claims. 

How are hospitals addressing duplicates?

Sadly, rectifying duplicates and overlays are quite complex and a nightmare for any given healthcare provider. While most of the hospitals are trying to fix duplicates by reallocating their HIM resources and even dedicating some of their FTEs (full-time employees) to identify and rectify the erroneous records, unless they address the frontend issues (read: identify patients accurately), it will be a never-ending cycle. Patients will be misidentified, duplicates will be created, and FTEs will be assigned to fix them on the backend, taking up valuable time and resources.

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So, can hospitals address these issues and prevent duplicate medical records on the frontend?

RightPatient enhances patient safety and quality of healthcare

As previously mentioned, if the patients are accurately identified during the registration process, duplicates can be prevented right from the beginning. That’s what we do best with our industry-leading patient identification platform. RightPatient, with its touchless design, ensures that patients are identified across the care continuum, starting from appointment scheduling. Patients only need to provide their selfies and a photo of their driver’s license when they schedule appointments. RightPatient matches the photos and makes sure that the accurate patient record is identified every time the patient accesses healthcare services, remotely or otherwise.

When the patients arrive at the hospital, all they need to do is look at the camera – RightPatient matches the saved photo and the real-time photo during the check-in process, preventing duplicates, eliminating denied claims, and enhancing patient safety. The best part of RightPatient is that the entire identification process is touchless, creating a safe environment for all involved in a post-COVID-19 world.

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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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Patient Safety and Quality Healthcare Require Patient Identification During the Pandemic

Another day, another new initiative by healthcare leaders regarding patient identification. One might wonder that given the pandemic and its ongoing effects on healthcare, why is that a top priority right now? Well, that’s what the healthcare experts have been demanding as inaccurate patient data negatively impacts patient outcomes during this crisis. The U.S. healthcare system has been suffering due to the absence of a patient identifier for decades now – the ban is still in effect on a UPI. Let’s look at what industry experts are saying and how positive patient identification can ensure patient safety and quality healthcare.

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The importance of patient identification according to experts

This isn’t the first time leaders have talked about the need for accurate patient identification and it won’t be the last time. Healthcare providers have been struggling with patient identification for decades now, leading to compromised patient safety, inaccurate patient data, and unwanted healthcare outcomes. Add the pandemic to the equation, and identifying patients accurately becomes more important than ever as accurate data sharing is a topmost priority.

Recently, a session organized by the ONC (Office of the National Coordinator) for Health IT brought up the topic. According to Tom Leary, HIMSS VP of Government Relations, incorrect patient data leads to adverse impacts on public health response initiatives. He further elaborated on that – patient identification errors during the ongoing crisis led to several issues like improper data sharing, delays in sharing test results, and inaccuracies within longitudinal patient records. According to Mr. Leary, some nurses even tried to Google patients to identify them and contact them regarding their test results!

Preparing for COVID-19 vaccines, whenever they’re created, will require accurate patient identification during large-scale immunizations to identify the infected ones, the ones who got the shots, and to identify the outcomes of the cases, stated Mr. Leary. Not having any proper patient identity verification system in place is just worsening the health outcomes and adding fuel to the ongoing fires during the pandemic. Thus, to ensure patient safety and quality healthcare, proper patient identification is an absolute must.

Patient safety and quality healthcare depend on identifying patients

As previously mentioned, many might think that with the pandemic still impacting healthcare significantly, patient misidentification is the last thing we need to worry about. However, Mr. Leary, as well as other healthcare industry experts, thinks otherwise. During the ONC session, they have already demonstrated how patient misidentification is affecting healthcare outcomes. But even before the pandemic, patient identification errors were notorious for adversely impacting patient safety and quality healthcare.

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Let’s go back to the time before the pandemic struck the U.S. Even then, the healthcare system had a plethora of issues, one of which was duplicate medical records and overlays. Imagine – a patient came to the hospital and they were assigned a duplicate record, based on which the whole treatment will be provided – so many things could go wrong!

An incomplete or inaccurate EHR leads to repeated lab tests, improper treatment, and even deaths due to a single misidentification. As a result, patient safety is severely impacted as well as healthcare outcomes. Patient misidentification cases are associated with unwanted incidents that can haunt caregivers – loss of goodwill and litigation costs are just some of the consequences.

Even before the pandemic, patient misidentification was a significant issue within the healthcare system. However, the COVID-19 crisis demonstrates how patient identification errors impact patient outcomes during a time when accurate patient information is of the essence. 

Experts are urging for the UPI once again

It’s been around two decades since the ban was imposed on a state-funded UPI (unique patient identifier), but industry experts are once again rallying to remove the ban this year. Even if the UPI is finally mandated, responsible healthcare providers will combine it with an effective patient identifier. Such a patient identification policy will encompass several benefits such as enhanced interoperability, reliable patient matching, and improved healthcare outcomes. So, out of all the different patient identification solutions out there, which one is the best match?

Patient safety and quality healthcare require RightPatient

RightPatient has been ensuring accurate patient identification for years now, but why is it the best solution? Well, it can be seamlessly integrated with EHRs to become part of the workflow, making it perfect to be used alongside the UPI, should the latter get approval. Moreover, RightPatient eliminates the biggest headache of providers currently – infection control issues, as it is a touchless solution. With its photo-based search engine for identifying patients during appointment scheduling and beyond, RightPatient is the most feasible choice for positive patient identification post-COVID-19.

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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 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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CMS Compliance Requires Identifying Patients Correctly – Are you Ensuring it? 

From the title, it is quite clear what this is about. The changes made to the Medicare CoPs (conditions of participation) have attracted attention within the US healthcare system, especially after the introduction of mandatory e-notifications during every ADT (admission, discharge, or transfer) of a patient. While providers are more focused on e-notifications, most of them forget about one very important prerequisite: identifying patients correctly. While we have already touched upon the topic regarding CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) Interoperability & Patient Access Final Rule, this time, we will focus more on the practical aspects and how patient identification is a crucial component that is absolutely necessary for e-notifications to work properly as well as CMS compliance. Without further ado, let’s dive deeper into the topic at hand.

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A brief refresher

A few changes have been made regarding the CMS Interoperability & Patient Access Final Rule. As the name suggests, it has been done to boost interoperability efforts within the caregivers of the patients. Let us look at why it is required within the healthcare system.

There are many cases where a patient is not restricted to a single healthcare provider;  especially if they have complications, multiple ailments and so on. Such patients need to visit and consult with multiple healthcare providers in order to receive the best patient care. For this to be effective, caregivers need to have access to the patient’s medical record, history, medications, vitals and other necessary information. In order to make the caregiving process seamless and boost interoperability, the Final Rule was introduced.

The “companion final rule” states that e-notifications must be sent out by healthcare providers (such as acute care, psychiatric, critical access providers, etc.) during every ADT to the appropriate recipients, i.e., the other caregivers (post-acute providers & suppliers, established primary care practitioners, or any other entity primarily responsible for the patient’s care). This rule applies to inpatient admissions as well as ED admissions. 

Who needs to ensure it?

Applicable healthcare providers are those who use digital medical records like EMR or EHR systems. They need to ensure compliance and have proper systems set up by May 1, 2021 so that they can send out e-notifications during ADTs. 

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While that’s a succinct summary of the most recent change in the CoPs, every healthcare provider needs to ensure that they are sending out e-notifications. Otherwise, they can face undesirable consequences such as receiving penalties for non-compliance, or worse, jeopardizing their CMS provider agreements. But how is identifying patients correctly related to CMS compliance regarding e-notifications?

Identifying patients correctly is required for CMS compliance

As previously mentioned, the CMS rule requires healthcare providers to send out notifications during ADTs. But there’s a catch.

Identifying patients correctly is quite important for e-notifications to work. Think about it: if a patient is not accurately recognized or is misidentified as a different patient, the healthcare provider risks sending alerts to the wrong caregivers. Worst of all, the provider risks that they won’t be able to answer alerts other caregivers are requesting.

Without a reliable way to identify patients, things can escalate quickly. If a provider cannot fulfill alert requests or sends too many incorrect alerts, care coordination teams will start to lose faith and miss opportunities to improve patient outcomes. Noncompliance will also incur CMS penalties, which can result in hefty fines. After COVID-19, nobody can afford such costs.

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While healthcare providers are busying themselves by deciding how to best implement e-notifications, they should also assess the effectiveness of their patient identity matching systems. Clearly, the former is dependent on the latter. Those who are struggling with patient identification need to upgrade their systems to futureproof, easy-to-use and hygienic ones. 

RightPatient helps identify patients correctly

We ensure that patients are always identified correctly with our industry-leading touchless biometric patient identification platform.

How it works

After making an appointment, patients receive an SMS or email to validate their identity. During this process, the patient takes a photo of their driver’s license and a selfie. RightPatient automatically matches the selfie photo with the photo on the driver’s license to ensure a proper identity match. If the patient is not already in the system, RightPatient assigns biometric credentials to the new patient.

This is how we prevent patients from registering under a different identity or medical record mix-ups. There’s no need to worry about name changes, mistakes when entering a patient’s name or other common issues. Patients are recognized with their selfies.

We have been helping prominent health systems like TGMC, CMC and CHSLI fight the battle against patient misidentification for years. With RightPatient, responsible healthcare providers can send e-notifications and comply with CMS without worrying about faulty alerts.

If we haven’t convinced you by now, why don’t you try our free trial? No gimmicks – it’s really free!