Government agencies establish industry-wide standards for best practices in healthcare. With the ubiquitous use of EHR systems and other digitally-accessible record software, it’s important to align staff members and make preserving patient data integrity a priority. The first thing that practices often notice about following these standards, however, is that it takes a lot of work and process changes to be effective.
The good news is that there are additional technologies that make implementing those standards easier. Patient identification systems reduce the work and vigilance required from clinical staff while also improving the usability of EHR.
Consider the Privasent Absolute Identity solution, which pairs two methods of positive patient identification with your EHR system to maximize security and convenience at the same time. The first component of Privasent is a palm vein scanner, which leverages a patient’s biometrics to recover their health record. The second component is an encrypted smart card, which is assigned to the patient upon their initial entry into the system. From that point on, the smart card can conveniently be presented at any participating facility within their provider network. It makes registration faster and also guarantees the correct record will be retrieved from the EHR system.
Both of these technologies make patient record entry more accurate and reduce duplication errors, which aligns with the same initiatives set forth by HealthIT.gov.
Government-Recommended Practices for Eliminating Patient Misidentification
HealthIT.gov created the SAFER guide (Safety Assurance Factors for EHR Resilience) to help medical practices emphasize patient safety through data entry. The guide provides recommendations that, when implemented, prevent patient record duplication and inaccuracies when logging clinical information. To review the recommendations, view the Self Assessment PDF or take a look at the summary we’ve provided below.
1. Build a Master Patient Index
A complete data guide can be used to correctly aligns fields for patient records if data must be imported from an outside health care facility or organization.
2. Search for Patient Records Using Multiple Criteria
Some criteria, in addition to patient name, can be used to search for and select a patient’s record, providing more specificity to the search.
3. Patient ID Information is Consistent Everywhere
Between wristbands, printed charts, EHR records, and other documentation, the patient name and other unique identifiers appear the same.
4. Names Have a Distinct Appearance in Lists of Multiple Records
When two or more patients are presented in documentation, there is variation in the appearance between adjacent records (e.g. bolded text, alternating colors, etc.).
5. Digit Checking for Unique Patient ID Numbers
If patients are assigned ID numbers, there health IT staff or EHR software providers should be able to provide some safeguards for preventing transpositions and other data entry errors.
6. System Warnings for Identical Patient Name Entry
For every patient entered into the record system, a check should occur where providers are notified when a patient name already exists as an extra prevention measure for patient record duplication.
7. A Single, Centralized Database Holds Patient Records
All patients should be listed in a single, searchable system so record formats and compliance standards are maintained from patient to patient.
8. Testing or Training Portals are Appropriately Labeled
If there is any testing underway for building new EHR templates, etc., be sure these environments are clearly labeled. Records will usually not be preserved if they’re entered in these environments.
9. There is a Back-up System for Logging Temporary Patient IDs
In the event that the EHR or other primary patient record entry method is compromised, ensure there is a standard process for continuing to collect patient information.
10. Verification Takes Place at Transition Points in Patient Care
Registration, hospital ward transfers, transfer of care staff, and other transitions should prompt providers to double check patient identity.
11. Only One Patient Record is Accessible at a Time
Having one record available at a time prevents data crossover between patients or redundant information logging by staff.
12. Deceased Patients and Retired Records are Marked as Such
If a record is “Not Found” in the EHR system, indicating that the associated patient has died will prevent additional record creation on the basis that the system may be faulty.
13. If Sample Patient Records Exist, They are Clearly Marked
Similar to the training environment, some “live” records may be used only as examples of data entry. Ensure these records are not accidentally attributed to a real individual.
14. The Organization Regularly Checks for Errors
Care providers or health IT staff should regularly monitor or audit the patient database to identify duplicate records, incorrect field entries, etc. and correct them.
Want to Completely Eliminate Patient Misidentification?
Consider Privasent to help you meet all of the standards for maintaining patient records. Click here to request a review of your current processes and see how Privasent can help you achieve your goal.