Duplication, fragmentation hamper interoperability efforts, impact patient safety

Data-integrity challenges and repetition are posing big problems for electronic health records, with adverse financial and clinical costs, a new Black Book report shows.
By Nathan Eddy
10:46 AM

Duplicate patient records are wreaking havoc on error rates and driving up operating expenses, according to a BlackBook survey of nearly 1,400 health technology managers.

WHY IT MATTERS

The study revealed the ways that disparate patient-information systems classify, store, protect and share records also leads to repeated medical care or denied claims. The problems cost the healthcare industry billions annually.

The survey also found that, on average, nearly a fifth of an organization's patient records are found to be duplicates.

Duplicate and overlaid medical records also have a ripple effect on the entire revenue cycle, serving as a source of billing and coding errors, denials, and even serious medical errors that can jeopardize a patient's health and safety.

Meanwhile, for hospitals without master patient index (MPI) or enterprise MPIs support tools, the current match rates when organizations exchange records hit just 24%.

An MPI or EMPI is a patient database used by healthcare organizations to maintain accurate medical data across their various departments, and these databases will likely only increase in necessity as healthcare organizations struggle to manage a rising flood of patient data.

On the flip side, hospitals that did have EMPI support tools in place were able to achieve consistently correct patient identification at an overall average 93% of registrations and 85% of externally shared records among non-networked providers, according to the survey.

THE LARGER TREND

Duplicate records might also contain incomplete or outdated information and can affect the quality of care by forcing clinicians to make care decisions without important information such as recent lab results, allergies and current medications.

Back in 2019, Verato and AdVault partnered on a cloud-based patient matching platform which aims to expand secure identity matching so care teams have seamless access to medical records.

Patient matching specialist Verato, which has also partnered with healthcare IT security specialist Imprivata, is of the belief that alignment of disparate patient record platforms will help eliminate duplicate records, establish more accurate care histories and improve patient safety.

In a 2016 Ponemon Institute survey, 86% of respondents said they witnessed a medical error as a direct result of misidentification, and indicated that 35% of all denied claims are due to misidentification, which can cost hospitals up to $1.2 million a year.

ON THE RECORD

"Many systems still do not communicate and store data in disjointed architectures and an upsurge of identifiers continues to be created," Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book, said in a statement.

"Despite the increases in record sharing among providers, increased risk and cost from redundant medical tests and procedures because of fragmented data trapped in siloes [make] tracking patients especially difficult."

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
Email the writer: nathaneddy@gmail.com
Twitter: @dropdeaded209