The prescription for preventing patient misidentification

Inaccurate patient information can lead to medical record errors and dire consequences for both patients and healthcare delivery organizations. The good news? Biometric patient identification can deliver a proven solution for preventing patient misidentification.

The price of patient misidentification and medical record errors

Patient trust is – and always will be – a cornerstone of care quality. After all, that trust brings peace of mind based on the assumption that medical professionals are leveraging their full knowledge and expertise, as well as reliable information, to deliver positive patient experiences and the best possible outcomes.

But what if foundational data they’re relying on, such as medical records, are inaccurate? What happens when patient misidentification disrupts the connection between those being treated and their records? Beyond a breach of trust, the consequences extend to patient safety risks: misidentification leads to medical record errors, which can lead to treatment decisions based on incomplete or inaccurate information.

The effects also extend to healthcare delivery organizations, including potential financial loss, reputational damage, plus the risk of fines and penalties for non-compliance.

Findings from an Imprivata-sponsored Ponemon study underscore the impact of this troubling issue:

  • The #1 cause of patient misidentification is incorrect identification at registration
  • 86% of providers have witnessed or have known of a medical error due to misidentification
  • 35% of denied claims may be attributed to misidentification, a share that can cost an average healthcare facility $1.2 million per year

Inaccurate patient information: A closer look

“Knowing the patient” (or more accurately, not knowing the patient) is at the heart of the issue. It starts with onboarding during the registration process, and carries throughout treatment touchpoints along the entire patient journey.

At registration, three patient misidentification actions are typically the culprits that lead to medical record errors. These actions include the creation of redundancies and comingling of records:

  • Duplicate records, in which multiple medical records are inadvertently produced for the same patient
  • Overlay records, in which data for multiple patients is merged into the same record
  • Overlap records, in which a patient is assigned unique identifiers across multiple facilities

In turn, this lack of positive patient identification can bring a wide array of consequences, including harmful or even fatal medical errors, patient dissatisfaction, and lost or deferred healthcare delivery organization revenue. In addition, lack of adequate processes supporting positive patient identification opens the door for bad actors, including those committing medical identity theft and insurance fraud.

Tackling patient misidentification: Leadership pain points

Not surprisingly, all of this creates significant pain points for healthcare deliver organization leadership. IT, clinical, and compliance leaders are sharply focused on mitigating the many risks presented by patient misidentification, including data integrity, safety, and regulatory issues, respectively.

But many are doing that in the face of tight budgets and limited staffing. Given these resource constraints, some are forced to rely on manual processes to conduct positive patient identification. In addition to being extremely time consuming and costly, the approach carries inherent risks created by the potential for manual data entry errors.

The solution: Biometric patient identification

So, how exactly can healthcare delivery organizations prevent patient safety risks and many other negative consequences resulting from patient misidentification? How can they move past error-prone manual approaches to patient identification that cause data integrity issues and enable medical record errors?

A proven solution for knowing the patient during each step of the care journey is biometric patient identification. The approach automates patient registration and identification, streamlines workflows and care delivery, while also eliminating patient matching errors.

Biometric patient identification uses touchless palm-vein scanning to identify patients. The result is a fast, convenient, far more accurate method to create a 1:1 match between patients and their unique medical records. This is particularly beneficial in critical care instances where a patient is unresponsive. In addition, the solution directly integrates with ER, ADT, EMPI, and other HIS systems.

Benefits to patients and healthcare delivery organizations include:

  • Optimizing patient experiences through the automation and streamlining of enrollment and check-in
  • Improving patient safety and satisfaction by avoiding mismatched records and medical errors
  • Accelerating revenues and improving financial results by reducing billing mistakes, denied claims, and patient churn
  • Reducing IT expenses and freeing up staff to focus on strategic tasks by avoiding record clean-up efforts
  • Defending against medical identity theft and fraud by preventing impersonation and insurance card sharing

Traditional approaches to patient identification are clearly creating opportunities to jeopardize patient safety and satisfaction, while negatively impacting healthcare delivery organizations. An automated solution such as biometric patient identification can eliminate these issues, while supporting patient trust and better care outcomes.

To learn more about patient identification challenges and biometric patient identification, visit our page.