The Importance of Patient Identity Matching and De-Duplication

Posted on behalf of Christine Duval, Marketing Strategist
How many times have you come across someone with the same name as you? If you have a name like John or Emma, two of the most popular names in the US, it’s most likely all of the time. While it’s less common to find someone with the same full name as you – it does happen. Even at smaller company like Summit Healthcare, we once had two employees with the same first AND last name. While it’s a fun conversation starter, ‘Are you related to so-and-so’, ‘Where are you from?’, it’s a significant challenge in the healthcare world.
With different variations of names, (ex. John, Jon, Jonathan), and different nicknames, or even misspelling of names during patient registration, it’s becoming increasingly harder for hospitals and other healthcare organizations to validate patient identities and minimize duplicates in their EHRs and other systems. Not only is it costly, it can cause serious medical errors. There are different demographic data such as social security number, date of birth, and current address that can be used to determine the correct patient, however if the patient is unconscious or a young child it’s more difficult to validate who they are. The issue is even more daunting when patient information is stored across multiple healthcare facilities.
Patient matching errors lead to a variety of concerns and costs:

  • Unnecessary procedures or x-rays could be performed
  • Pharmaceutical errors
  • Repeat testing
  • Blood transfusion errors
  • Delayed diagnosis

Ultimately, patient identification is a substantial interoperability problem, costing hospitals on average $1,950 per duplicate record, and that doesn’t include malpractice bills and matters you can’t put a price tag on.
A Closer Look*:
 18% – The average number of duplicates in an organizations EHR system
$1,100 – The cost of repeated medical care due to duplicate records, per patient
$96 – The cost of each duplicate, per record
100,000 – The number of people who die annually due to mistaken identity
As an example, there is a 200-bed hospital with approximately 500,000 patient records and a duplicate percentage rate of 12%. That equates to 60,000 duplicate patient records at a cost of $96 per record, costing the health system over $5.7M to resolve those patient duplicates.
How many duplicates do you have in your organization?
The ability to correlate disparate patient IDs across the entire spectrum of a healthcare ecosystem to provide ONE unified patient ID as a single source of truth is key in dealing duplicate/inaccurate patient records. The good news is that there are effective patient matching technologies available in the market today. An Enterprise Master Patient Index (EMPI), coupled with an integration and/or automation platform, establishes a common patient identifier for cross-platform interoperability and accurate data exchange.
Key benefits of a comprehensive EMPI platform include:

  • Automate duplicate record clean up and eliminate duplicate registrations
  • Faster and more accurate patient lookup
  • Common patient identifier for accurate data exchange
  • Help reduce operational costs and errors resulting from duplicate patient records
  • Reduces financial delays with accurate billing and reimbursements
  • Improved patient care, quality and effectiveness with comprehensive data available across the care continuum

For more information about EMPI solutions, or if you’d like assistance with an EMPI Assessment, please don’t hesitate to reach out to [email protected].
*Why Patient Matching Is a Challenge: Research on Master Patient Index (MPI) Data Discrepancies in Key Identifying Fields.” Perspectives in Health Information Management (Spring 2016): 1-20.