Hospitals, as well as health systems, are the most crucial foundations of any given society. It helps people maintain and regain the most critical aspect of their lives- health. Thus, it means that hospitals and health systems are supposed to thrive, but the reality is quite the opposite. Even a few days ago, some hospitals had closed their doors forever to incoming patients who needed urgent care. But why did this happen? Let’s analyze.
One, if not the biggest, blockades in providing excellent healthcare services is the lack of accurate patient identification. This is quite common for any given health system, irrespective of its size. Many face the same problem of mixing up the patient records and providing wrong treatments. Why is this even happening, many might ask. Isn’t matching patient records to the appropriate patients easy?
It is quite complicated, and the problems today make patient matching harder than ever. Let’s dive deep to understand why patient matching is such a challenge.
EHRs, or electronic health systems, were introduced several years ago to make patient medical records simpler, better, and faster than paper records. For instance, it could be easily searched for, take up much less physical space, be completely digital, and generate zero wastage. However, fast forward several years, and here we are with patient identification errors occurring almost every other day. Since EHRs were supposed to make things simple, why are there so many patient identification errors?
There are a variety of reasons. Suppose a patient walks into a hospital- the next procedure would be for the hospital staff to identify the accurate patient record. When the staff searches for the record, they will see that there may be hundreds, even thousands of similar records, especially if the patient has common names, addresses, and other characteristics that might contribute to the mixup of the patient. The hospital staff has two choices- either go through the sea of medical records to find the accurate one or create a new medical record and save time. The latter one is called a duplicate medical record, and according to the reputed organization AHIMA, health systems that have multiple facilities contain around 20% duplicate medical records within their EHR systems. All of these duplicates can lead to $40 million of losses for any hospital.
It is evident that patient misidentification is hugely problematic for a hospital, and nobody can eliminate these errors unless they go for something innovative. To cut issues such as duplicate medical records, denied claims, and losses, the main problem must be eliminated first. As there are already statistics which have been collected over the years to back up the fact that patient identification errors cause millions in losses, it must be strictly addressed.
However, several health systems did try out an innovative platform- RightPatient, a biometric patient identification platform that health systems like Novant Health and Community Medical Centers are using, and they are reporting promising results like improved patient identification, enhanced patient safety, and optimized revenue cycle. Once a patient registers their biometric features with RightPatient, it is added to their EHR- later on, the appropriate medical records are provided within seconds whenever the patient comes back for availing healthcare services. Patient acceptance has been high as well- all the patients need to do is get their biometric data scanned, for instance, fingerprints or irises. RightPatient also locks the medical records of the patients- preventing medical identity theft as well as insurance fraud. The many health systems using the platform have been quite relieved as patient misidentification has reduced dramatically as well as losses.