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

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

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Patient identification issues are nothing new

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

Some stats to back it up

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

Patient misidentification hampers patient safety and quality improvement

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

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Patient misidentification is closely related to duplicate medical records

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

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

Patient misidentification hampers patient data integrity

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

Patient misidentification leads to medical errors

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

Patient safety and quality improvement is achievable with RightPatient

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

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

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Patient Matching and Interoperability Are Ineffective Without Positive Patient Identification

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

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

The 21st Century Cures Act and Patient Matching

What it means

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

Interoperability requires more than the Cures Act

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

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

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The Interoperability & Patient Access Final Rule

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

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

RightPatient can improve patient matching 

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

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

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

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The Interoperability and Patient Access Final Rule – in a Nutshell

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

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

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

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

Why patient identification will make or break your CMS compliance

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

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

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

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

RightPatient is the most robust patient identification software

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

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

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

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

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How Many Patient Identifiers Should be Used to Ensure Patient Safety?

The US healthcare system has always been plagued by a number of issues. One very common but often overlooked issue is that of patient identification errors. Misidentification cases continue to be quite prevalent while there continues to be a ban on the creation of a state-funded Universal Patient Identifier (UPI). While debate continues around the risks and rewards involved with a UPI, one should also be asking about its efficacy. How many patient identifiers should be used to prevent patient safety issues? Will a UPI be enough to solve this colossal challenge?

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UPI’s history in a nutshell

Since the idea for a unique patient identifier was formed, it’s seen constant criticism and opposition, resulting in a ban that’s lasted for around two decades. Last year, healthcare organizations came pretty close to finally having the ban removed when the US House of Representatives voted to repeal the ban. However, the ban is still in effect with the legislation failing to gain approval in the Senate.

As for the future of the UPI, let’s look at its past. It has not been funded for around two decades due to issues like privacy concerns and growing data breach incidents that could seriously jeopardize patient safety and privacy. Thus, chances are high that the future may not be kind to the creation of a state-funded UPI.

Lack of effective patient identification is felt throughout healthcare

The absence of reliable patient identification is widely felt throughout hospitals and health systems. Patient safety issues and patient data integrity failures are just some of the many issues associated with patient misidentification. However, a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic clearly highlighted the importance of proper patient identification, impeding the ability of caregivers to provide healthcare services quickly and effectively without access to holistic patient information. Since the pandemic started, healthcare staff on the frontlines have been learning that the hard way.

Many experts are even thinking that this might be the time the UPI will finally be realized. But will it be enough? How many patient identifiers should be used to make sure it’s safe for patients and effective for providers? Fortunately, our Co-Founder, Michael Trader, has a comprehensive answer.

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How many patient identifiers should be used?

Mr. Trader has stated that it’s crucial to find balance regarding a UPI and it’s equally important to establish an infrastructure that can house the UPI securely – only identifying patients accurately is not enough. Furthermore, the creation of duplicate medical records and overlays need to be prevented – they are some of the many issues that significantly hinder patient matching.

Mr. Trader adds that while the UPI will have benefits such as better interoperability as providers can share patient data more reliably, it will not mitigate issues such as duplicates, overlays, and medical identity theft. How many patient identifiers should be used, then?

Mr. Trader stated that instead of relying solely on the UPI, responsible providers will pair it with another identification system, and preferably one that is tried and tested. Linking the UPI to a photo-based biometric patient identification platform comes to mind. This touchless solution can be scaled across all encounter touch points, even enabling patients to utilize their own smartphones, making it the ideal solution in our post-pandemic world. With such a combination, patient misidentifications can be eliminated.

For years, patient misidentification has been a persistent problem for patients and caregivers alike. Providers need to eliminate misidentification as soon as possible, with or without the UPI. After all, it’s a single mistake that can cause severe consequences for both providers and patients. Fortunately, RightPatient can help providers avoid such unwanted cases. 

With its photo-based patient identification platform, RightPatient has been identifying patients accurately for years. Leading and responsible providers have chosen RightPatient instead of waiting for the UPI – they know the effects of patient identification errors better than anyone else. Thus, if the UPI is created, responsible leaders will be coupling it with the leading patient identification platform, ensuring interoperability, accurate patient identification, and reliable patient data exchanges.

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Dirty Patient Data Can Have Severe Consequences for Healthcare Providers

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

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Patient data

A brief definition

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

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

“Dirty” patient information

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

Effects of unclean patient data

Inaccuracy and inefficient operations

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

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Huge losses

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

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

Patient safety is compromised

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

Non-compliance issues

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

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

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

Lower ROI

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

Keep patient data clean with RightPatient

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

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

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

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

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

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Patient Identification Policy Impacts Data Integrity and Patient Safety Issues

Let’s face it – patient identification errors are nothing new and it is a much-discussed topic among healthcare leaders. For instance, just a month ago, a new coalition was formed to urge Congress to develop a UPI (unique patient identifier) to be used nationwide. Sadly, such formations are quite common – groups, competitions, and alliances have formed for years for the same reason. The result is that no UPI exists yet and patient identification errors are still wreaking havoc. However, many healthcare providers are reaping the benefits of accurate patient identification – it boils down to the patient identification policy used by the caregiver. Let’s take a closer look at how patient identification errors can cause a multitude of problems, why accurate patient identification is so crucial, and how platforms like RightPatient can help ensure just that.

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Patient misidentification

It is quite self-explanatory. Patient identification errors occur whenever a healthcare facility fails to accurately match the patient with their appropriate medical record present within the EHR system.

It happens for a number of reasons. As already mentioned, it is nothing new and has been the result of years of human errors and improper patient data maintenance like duplicate medical records, overlays, and missing, incorrect, and/or incomplete information, leading to low patient match rates.

To put it into perspective, AHIMA stated that health systems can house up to 20% duplicate records within their EHR systems. The financial impact? It can go as high as $40 million for any given healthcare facility. 

Effects of patient misidentification

Low patient match rates is just the tip of the iceberg! Patient misidentification leads to several problems. Let’s look at the more prominent effects of patient misidentification.

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Whenever you incorrectly identify a patient, it means that one patient’s data will get written into someone else’s medical record – creating patient data integrity issues. This leads to a lot of problems – incorrect medications, repeated lab tests, incorrect medical procedures, inaccurate patient history – the list just goes on. Both the patients will receive inaccurate care by the caregiver as a direct consequence of patient misidentification, hampering patient outcomes.

Naturally, patient misidentification leads to patient safety issues – these are bound to happen if your treatment is based on the wrong medical record. Consequences can be delays in treatment, worse patient outcomes, irreparable damages, and sometimes, patient misidentification can even result in deaths. According to a report by John Hopkins University, medical errors can cause up to 250,000 avoidable deaths per year, many of which happen due to patient identification errors. 

Thus, the million-dollar question is how can healthcare providers ensure accurate patient identification across their facilities?

It depends on a provider’s patient identification system

The accuracy of patient identification is as good as the patient identification policy used by the hospital in question, and there are many options hospitals can choose from. Responsible leaders, in any case, must choose the patient identification system that ensures accurate patient identification, provides a seamless experience, and provides a safe and hygienic environment for all involved.

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There are a plethora of options available that hospitals can use as their primary patient identification policy. Sadly, many are still choosing the most obsolete one – inundating patients with questions. Whenever a patient arrives, officials ask them questions to find the correct medical record. This policy is slow, outdated, and extremely insecure – anyone can pass themselves off as the patient. In fact, this leads to medical identity theft – fraudsters buy stolen medical records from the black market and have all the information to pose successfully as the victim.

One other policy is to use patient ID wristbands. While this is a tad more secure than asking questions, it can still be taken off a patient and used for fraudulent purposes. Moreover, it is a contact-based solution, and that’s not something hospitals would want after the COVID-19 crisis – everyone is extremely aware of infection control issues now.

The most secure solution is using an identification policy where the identifier cannot be transferred or stolen – biometric modalities come to mind. There is a caveat though – patients would be quite reluctant to accept touch-based solutions such as fingerprint or palm-vein scanning.

Implement a touchless patient identification policy

The best option has been left for last – touchless patient identification platforms. RightPatient is the leading photo-based biometric patient identification system used by progressive healthcare providers.

Locking the medical records of patients with their photos upon registration, returning patients only need to look at the camera and the platform matches the photo with the one saved alongside their medical record, ensuring accurate patient identity verification.

There are many patient identification platforms available – be the responsible leader by choosing the one that shares the common goal of improving patient safety and quality of care at your facility.

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Duplicate Medical Records and Patient Misidentification Frequently Affects Hospitals

The U.S. healthcare system does not seem to catch a break. The coronavirus outbreak is the latest problem added to the already formidable list of issues plaguing the U.S. healthcare system. Lack of price transparency, outrageous costs, and archaic laws are just some of the problems. However, let’s talk about a problem that has been around for many years and still haunts several (if not all) hospitals – lacking an effective patient identification system. 

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A study regarding patient misidentification 

Not so long ago, a study conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts and Massachusetts eHealth collaborative shed light on a known issue – wrong patient matching is very common in U.S. hospitals. Let’s see what wrong patient matching leads to and what causes the errors, so that we can understand why healthcare providers must ensure accurate patient matching. 

Patient matching and duplicate records explained

Firstly, the meaning of patient matching is quite self-explanatory. It refers to matching a patient with his/her health record so that the hospital can proceed on providing healthcare services. Now, it seems quite simple, but patient matching issues exist, according to the aforementioned study. What makes it so tough? The most common reasons are duplicate medical records and patient misidentification, also referred to as mismatched patient records.  

Duplicate medical records are created when a patient has multiple patient records at a given healthcare provider’s EHR system. This happens for a variety of reasons – poor communication between the hospital staff and the patient during patient admission or checkup, failure to find the existing patient record within the database, and so on. Duplicate records decentralize the healthcare process that providers initially intended to provide to patients. For instance, due to duplicate records, a patient’s complete medical history could be impossible to find. In essence, different diagnoses are stored in various records, which leads to serious medical errors like mistreatment, repetitive lab tests, wrong medication, unintentional injuries, and in extreme cases, deaths.  

Patient misidentification, wrong patient identification, and mismatched patient records are used interchangeably but mean the same thing. Patient misidentification occurs when a healthcare provider mixes up medical records of different patients. This happens when the patients share similar characteristics – name, date of birth, medical history, are just a few examples. This can cause severe issues like mistreatment, financial loss for patients, longer recovery time, and has also proven to take the lives of unfortunate ones. 

How are hospitals affected?

Not only patients but healthcare providers are also affected profoundly. Claim denials can lead to losses in millions and occur when bills are sent to the wrong patients as a result of patient misidentification. Patients can also hit hospitals with lawsuits because of mistreatments. 

Thus, accurate patient identification is critical for hospitals to operate smoothly and without any unwanted incidents. Fortunately, RightPatient has a proven track record of helping out hospitals with patient identification issues. It is a biometric patient identification platform that locks the medical records of patients with their biometric data. During enrollment, the platform takes a photo of the patient and his/her biometric data, such as a scan of the irises, and attaches it to the medical record. Later on, whenever the patient returns, all he/she needs to do is look at the camera. RightPatient accurately identifies the medical record within seconds, ensuring accurate patient identification as well as preventing the creation of duplicate records. 

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How RightPatient Benefits Medical Identity Theft and the Healthcare Red Flags Rule

It’s no secret that medical identity theft is on the rise. Over 2 million Americans each year become victims of medical identity theft, and, unfortunately, that number only continues to grow.

It’s growing for a number of reasons. First of all, there were more healthcare data breaches in 2019 than the previous three years combined. These breaches compromised the medical records of over 40 million Americans

Let’s consider this in light of rising healthcare costs and a worsening opioid epidemic. These facts create a ripe market for medical identity theft. Patient identity data is readily available on the black market and there is a ton of demand for it.

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When medical identity theft is perpetrated, patients and healthcare providers suffer. Victims can face bills for services they never received, incorrect treatment data mixed into their medical record can affect future outcomes and quality of care, and the costs to restore their identity can be prohibitive. 

Healthcare providers lose millions of dollars for services that will never be paid for. Increasingly, they also face litigation costs from patient lawsuits for failing to protect their information. 

Providers also face another burden. In 2009, the FTC started to enforce the Red Flags Rule, which requires healthcare providers to develop programs that can help to detect and address situations that are “red flag” indicators of medical identity theft. The goal is to ensure vigilance and reduce the potential costs associated with medical identity theft.

However, implementing red flag processes, keeping them current, and ensuring compliance can be expensive and time consuming for healthcare providers. These processes must also be administered by front-line staff members, typically patient access employees that handle registration. 

This is an enormous responsibility for these employees when considering the potential consequences of medical identity theft. Compliance with red flag rules also places a substantial burden on registrars who are already buried with additional duties such as verifying insurance, collecting payment, and processing patients as efficiently as possible to reduce wait times and improve margins. 

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Now, against the backdrop of these market realities, imagine if the risk of medical identity theft could be substantially mitigated, if not eliminated altogether. This is where RightPatient comes into play. 

RightPatient validates that patients are who they claim to be when scheduling appointments by comparing a patient’s selfie photo to the photo on her driver’s license or other ID cards. When patients show up for visits, RightPatient accurately identifies them during registration and other points along the care continuum. 

RightPatient creates a closed-loop platform to prevent medical identity theft and other errors that can impact patient safety, revenue cycle, and data quality. This saves a lot of time, money, and hassle for patients and healthcare providers.

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Medical Identity Theft Prevention Enhances Patient Trust

What is one of the crucial things a company needs to ensure so that it can thrive? Is it the employees, revenue, or size? While many may answer something along the lines of the previously mentioned characteristics, one of the most critical assets a company can have is the trust of its customers. The healthcare system is no different – various health systems and hospitals are successful today only because of their patients’ trust in their services. Since it is healthcare, patients put their lives in the hands of the hospitals – trust plays a huge role here. That trust can be enhanced with medical identity theft prevention.

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According to Morning Consult, in terms of trust from consumers, healthcare lies in the middle, while insurance, finance, and real state are underneath it, whereas airlines and technology are above it.

Morning Consult conducted a study which had several respondents about their perception regarding various US brands as well as firms. From these people, a meager 16% responded that they trust health systems a lot, whereas 36% said that they believe these organizations somewhat.

Also, while ranking the most trustworthy companies, people, ideas, among other things, the respondents ranked their physicians even above notable choices such as Google, police, and leaders.

Thankfully, the report went deeper and gave areas of improvement for hospitals and health systems to build up trust among patients. When the sample of the study was asked what the most crucial factor which helps build trust towards an organization is, three-fourth of the respondents said that protecting their sensitive data was extremely important for trust-building.

All of these are straight from the customers themselves, and these are even more applicable to the US healthcare system. The health systems and hospitals need to ensure that the sensitive patient data they keep are safeguarded, especially now. Breaches seem to be very common nowadays, which leads to exposure to the patients’ confidential medical data as well as documents like medical images, medication, and so on. It costs both patients and healthcare providers alike – patients become victims of medical identity theft, whereas healthcare providers’ reputations are dented. People question the security surrounding the medical records since HIPAA requires strict safeguarding of such sensitive information.

These lead to losses for both patients and health systems – patients may sue the hospitals, the culprits may use the identities to avail services illegally, costing the patients a significant amount of money for services that they never used. Medical identity theft may also occur if an individual steals a patient’s medical credentials and uses it for his/her gain. In such cases, the preferences of the culprit may get mixed up with that of the patients. For instance, the patient might be allergic to certain medications, and may still receive that after the culprit uses his/her ID.

Dynamic healthcare providers such as Novant Health, Terrebonne General Medical Center, and University Health Care System are preventing such issues by using RightPatient. It is a biometric patient identification platform that locks the medical records after attaching those with the biometric data of the patients. Once a patient enrolls with the biometric data, for instance, irises or fingerprints, the records can be accessed using only the same data, creating medical identity theft prevention. The hospital can also identify the accurate patient record within seconds after the patient scans his/her biometric data for verification. RightPatient not only aids in medical identity theft prevention, but also eliminates patient matching errors, ensuring accurate patient identification, enhancing patient safety, and improving the revenue cycle as well. It saves lives as well as millions for both patients and health systems, enhancing patient trust.