Patient identity is a hot topic everywhere we turn.
There are a lot of opinions out there and no one has conjured the perfect recipe just yet. The CHIME National Patient ID Challenge initiative has gotten a lot of buzz, and while the $1,000,000 in prize money is a nice motivator, I’d like to think that everyone has a more altruistic motivation.
Whether you’re an IT geek, a provider, or a patient, we all have a stake in getting it right. We all win if we get it right. It is worth our time to make a plan, and execute it flawlessly.
What does that look like? Great question. Think about the last “assembly required” item you purchased. Some of these go way better than others.
The ones that go poorly are usually accompanied by pathetic instructions, a lack of confidence, missing or incomplete tools, and perhaps, speaking from personal experience, a poor attitude.
The ones that go well are those with the clear instructions accompanied by pictures, the tools are included, and there is a no-fail feeling as you look at the step-by-step guide. Yes. You. Can! We need to emulate this process when we roll out our patient identity best practices.
There are many critics of the much discussed National Patient Identifier. I must agree that having another unique number doesn’t seem to be the silver bullet.
We’ve already got:
- Social Security Number
- Driver’s License number
- Medicare and Medicaid numbers
And these are all unique. None of these will ever be reused — right? The idea of saying “No, we really mean it this time. This one is unique, and will not be shared or hacked,” seems a little naïve.
It’s time to step back, think through the process, and develop a methodical approach for identifying patients accurately, every time. We need a clear recipe for success!
This solution is very little about IT, and very much about people and processes. Once that process is identified, documented, and approved, let’s educate the IT geeks, the providers, and the patients, so that everyone understands his or her role.
And, now for the best part; let’s hold each other accountable. Yup. I went there. Let’s hold each other accountable. We’ve got more analytics than we know what to do with. It’s time to show the before and after.
It’s time to reeducate when we miss our mark, and celebrate when we get it right. Everyone needs to know they are an important part of the process. Bills will get paid more quickly. Providers will have the decision support they need. And, most importantly, patients will be safer. This is worth our time.
I have a lot more to share on this topic, so I will be hosting an educational webcast on July 12, at 2pm ET titled "Patient Identity — Why It's the Achilles Heel of Healthcare, And How We Can Protect It."
Click below to join and be part of the conversation, and learn some practical tips for improving your patient identity processes.