The US healthcare system has always been riddled with problems for years - medical identity theft, healthcare data breaches, astronomical prices, patient safety issues, healthcare data breaches, and the lack of true interoperability are just some of the many problems. However, even while healthcare providers have been facing these issues, they always had to be compliant with all of the existing rules and regulations in order to avoid penalties. This led to many of them being penalized heavily such as losing out on reimbursements and facing heavy fines. For instance, CMS will fine 2,545 hospitals during the fiscal year 2021 for readmitting a high number of patients. However, some new rules will be implemented soon that might change interoperability within healthcare providers. Let’s take a look at them, what they entail, and how hospitals might overlook a certain, crucial aspect that will decide compliance with these rules - patient identification guidelines.
While interoperability regarding patient data has always been a significant issue, that might change with the introduction of the 21st Century Cures Act as well as the CMS Interoperability &Patient Access Final Rule. In fact, many healthcare experts are betting big on these rules. Let’s have a look at each of these and how effective patient identification guidelines are required for both of them.
In a nutshell, certain aspects of the rule will ensure better interoperability - exchanging, accessing, and using electronic health information will be much easier than ever. If done properly, patient data can be easily shared among caregivers, leading to better care coordination, improved healthcare outcomes, and lesser patient safety incidents. However, the Act itself cannot ensure interoperability if the components required for it aren’t effective, for instance, patient identification guidelines. Let’s discuss that part later where an effective identifier is required by the Act.
While this is a vast rule and with a considerable number of requirements, let’s skip to the relevant part. Healthcare providers who are using digital medical records such as EHR or EMR systems must support sending and receiving e-notifications during ADT (admission, discharge, or transfer) events. They must be able to share and receive real-time information from the other healthcare providers of their patients in an effort to boost interoperability and improve coordinated care.
After observing both the rules, one thing is for certain - they require immaculate patient information at all times, as accurate patient data is a must for effective interoperability. However, let’s take a look at where patient identification guidelines come into play.
Effective interoperability within healthcare facilities requires more than the rules. While these are certainly helpful and steps towards better interoperability, more is required to improve coordinated care and healthcare outcomes. One crucial piece that is required is accurate patient identification in order to prevent medical identity theft.
For instance, imagine that the rules are in effect and healthcare providers are supporting e-notifications during ADT events. However, if any healthcare provider is facing issues such as patient identification errors, duplicate medical records, or medical record mix-ups, these will severely impact coordinated care efforts and jeopardize the entire process. Not only will the wrong medical record be identified and used for care within the healthcare facility, but the wrong, incomplete, or inconsistent information from the same record will also be sent out to other caregivers. Naturally, this will result in delays in treatment, repeated lab tests, undesirable healthcare outcomes, hampering patient safety in the process.
Unfortunately, this is not a theory - such cases are quite common, which is why interoperability is not as effective as it should be. One of the first and foremost remedies to ensure effective interoperability and ensure enhanced care, as previously mentioned, is accurate patient identification.
Patient data exchanges can be error-free if misidentification cases are prevented - these usually occur during registration. Thus, these unwanted incidents can be avoided if hospitals upgrade their patient identification guidelines and incorporate robust and future-proof solutions, ensuring that patients are identified accurately across the care continuum.
RightPatient is currently the most feasible patient identification solution available. It has the required experience, success rate, and is also touchless, making it ideal for ensuring a hygienic environment and eliminating infection control issues within healthcare facilities. However, it can also be used at any touchpoint across the care continuum, starting from appointment scheduling.
It uses the photos of the patients as well as a photo of their driver’s license to verify their identities after they schedule appointments, making it ideal for telehealth sessions as well. When a patient arrives at the hospital, all they need to do is look at the camera - the platform provides the proper medical record within seconds after verifying their identity.
Many leading hospitals have already incorporated RightPatient into their patient identification guidelines, and have witnessed improved patient safety, reduced preventable medical errors, and much more.
By ensuring accurate patient identification, hospitals can enhance patient safety, prevent medical identity theft, and ensure compliance with the aforementioned rules by sending proper alerts to the appropriate caregivers - mitigating risks of penalties and enhancing healthcare outcomes.