Duplicate patient records are a common challenge for hospital organizations and one of the most detrimental issues facing health information technology departments. One patient with multiple medical record numbers can result in billing and claim submission problems, which lead to reimbursement losses. The cost of treatment to the patient is also higher due to unnecessary replication of lab orders and tests. Meaningful Use Stage 2 requires providers to allow patients to access their health record electronically through the patient portal, but when two or more records exist for one patient the patient will either not be able to log in or will only be able to view a portion of his or her health information. Duplicate records also impact patient safety due to an incomplete or inaccurate patient medical history, putting both the patient and hospital at risk.
Our team recently completed a project where two major health systems combined and created a shared database. The project started with a duplicate rate of 6.77%. Blue Cirrus’ Data Integrity team was brought in to begin the manual merge process for the database with a goal of getting the rate below 4%. We exceeded this goal after 4 months using a team of 20, bringing the rate down to 3.83%
(Click on chart to enlarge)
When considering the cost of duplicate records to a health system, the return on investment from analyzing the integrity of your data is clear. It is estimated that hospitals on average have a duplicate rate of 5 – 10%, resulting in upwards of hundreds of thousands of records per year. According to a report by Fox and Sheridan the cost per duplicate pair is estimated to be $50. As you can see below, the savings to our client neared $3 million.
Our work can be done before or after a new EHR implementation. Team members, led by a seasoned project manager, all have extensive backgrounds in patient hospital admissions and understand the need to reduce duplicate records. They are trained to use patient record applications to help determine if patient records can be merged. The size of the team is determined by examining the number of duplicates and the given timeline for the project.
While this project was based on two organizations coming together, this challenge is a daily occurrence that should be addressed in every hospital/health system. Blue Cirrus’ Data Integrity team has the proven experience and success to help your organization clean up its patient database and restore data integrity. The proven result of our work is a more reliable database for admission staff and a significant decrease in billing errors. Your cost of care will decrease and most importantly, patients will be assured their doctor has all the information needed to give them excellent medical care.