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How to Get a Handle on Your Patient Identity Challenges

Written by Michelle Schneider, Senior Solutions Engineer

PS-EMPI-Ed-Webcast-Blog-patient-identity-issues-2015-12.jpgPatient identity challenges are not going away

Patient identity challenges are nothing new; trust me. Back in the 90s, when I implemented the first EMR at a community hospital in the Northeast, we spent a lot of time undoing the damage of well-intentioned registrars. Oh, the joy of our little bubble. Yes, it was a lot of work but it was confined to my little hospital and one EMR. 

We had total control. We undid the registration, documentation, lab results, charges, and any other bits and pieces, only to re-enter them on the new patient and account. Boy did we complain! 

But that’s nothing compared to the messages that pass with lightning speed out of today’s EMRs to the interface engine, the HIE, ambulatory systems, pop health, insurance companies, and any other downstream recipients. 

Within a nanosecond, the ADT message is gone, and the patient matching crisis is in full swing. 

Here’s an example:

Let’s say Eric Jones is admitted to hospital A, and a poorly designed algorithm has matched his record to Erik (with a K) Jones, at the time of registration. Eric (with a C) has a couple of labs, a chest x-ray, and an admission assessment where he admits to smoking cigarettes one pack per day, a penicillin allergy, and asthma. 

Click submit and within a nanosecond, our friend Erik Jones now has a history that could affect his future treatment, his ability to get disability insurance, and his ability to enlist in the military. Wow! It’s a lot more than analytics. We have got to get control of this, and fast.

Add to this the recent stat that I read from a study by ID Analytics that said, there are 40 Million SSNs associated with multiple people! Does that stat surprise you? For me, it sure creates even more urgency for the need to get patient identity under control.

Given all of these realizations, solving patient identity challenges is still the elephant in the middle of every conference room, at every healthcare facility.  No one wants to talk about it.

PS-EMPI-Ed-Webcast-Blog-image-patient-identity-issues-2015-12.jpg

How do you begin to address the elephant in the room?

It is not impossible to fix, and the sooner we get started, the sooner we can rest easy. Just like cleaning our closets or the dreaded basement, we need to take inventory of what’s in there. You know the drill — Keep it, Repurpose it, or Throw it away — those are the choices.

To begin an effective patient identity overhaul, start by looking at all the records. The “clean” records are in the Keep It pile, the duplicates are in the Repurpose It pile, and the junk records are tossed. 

Everyone has those skeletons in the closet. LABTEST,LOUIE and GOLIVE,GARY have to go! An EMPI assessment is the best way to accomplish this review. The EMPI assessment is the most important step in quantifying the patient identity project. 

And, there are vendors who will offer these for FREE (Request your free assessment here). With a good review, you will be able to establish a percentage of “dirty” records and an estimate of the workload involved to resolve it. In addition, you should receive a breakdown of problem areas, a summary of risk, and the remediation cost that you can take to your leadership.

Now, it’s out there. Finally. Everyone is taking notice of the elephant in the middle of the room. You’re not alone after all. There are a few vendors out there, leading the pack in EMPI remediation. Start the conversation. You won’t be sorry you did.

How to get help:

Listen to this on-demand educational webcast to learn how to take steps toward solving your patient identity challenges.

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Topics: Interoperability, HIE, EMPI, patient identity

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