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Duplicate Patient EHRs Cost Hospitals $1,950 Per Inpatient Stay

New Black Book research shows fragmented and duplicate patient EHRs increase hospital costs and patient safety risks.

Black Book research indicates duplicate patient EHRs have patient safety risks.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- Duplicate patient EHRs cost hospitals an average of $1,950 per patient per inpatient stay, according to a 2018 Black Book survey about the use and value of enterprise master patient index (EMPI) solutions.

Black Book researchers surveyed 1,392 health IT managers about patient identification processes from the third quarter (Q3) of 2017 to the first quarter (Q1) of 2018. Problems were found surrounding patient EHR matching and that it has a significant effect on hospital spending and patient safety.

Respondents included hospital executives, clinicians, IT specialists, and health IT implementation project participants.

“As data sharing grows and challenges in connectivity are tackled, resolving patient record matching issues has become more urgent and complex,” said Black Book Research Managing Partner Doug Brown.

While increasing health data exchange between providers is an industry priority, sharing incomplete and duplicate records has had an adverse effect on healthcare organizations and care delivery. Organizations including ONC and CHIME have launched efforts to promote innovation in this area by challenging health IT developers to create accurate patient matching algorithms.

“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 makes tracking patients especially difficult,” said Brown.

Surveyed EMPI users reported that prior to implementing an EMPI tool, an average of 18 percent of patient health records were discovered to be duplicates. These duplicate records cost healthcare organizations over $800 per emergency department (ED) visit, and over $1,950 per inpatient stay.

Black Book researchers also found an average of 33 percent of all denied claims at surveyed healthcare organizations were the result of inaccurate patient identification or patient health data. Denied claims cost hospitals an average of $1.5 million in 2017 and $6 billion annually for the healthcare system as a whole.

“Ultimately, the real challenge of identity management and parsing together a longitudinal health record has to do with integration and interoperability,” Brown stated. “Many systems still do not communicate and store data in disjointed architectures and an upsurge of identifiers continue to be created.”

Implementing an EMPI tool can significantly reduce patient identification errors. Hospitals without EMPI support tools in place reported average patient matching accuracy rates of 24 percent during health data exchange, according to Black Book.

Meanwhile, hospitals that have had EMPI tools in place since 2016 reported patient matching accuracy rates of 85 percent during external health data exchange with non-networked providers.

Furthermore, hospitals using EMPI tools stated they had patient matching accuracy rates of 93 percent for registrations.

Ultimately, survey respondents ranked Texas-based health IT identification vendor QuadraMed as the top EMPI tool provider based on user satisfaction. QuadraMed was ranked number one for strategic alignment with client goals and initiatives, training, client relationships and cultural fit, integration, and five other criteria.

Cloud-based patient matching solutions provider NextGate was the second-highest rated vendor, followed by patient identification solutions vendor Verato.

Change Healthcare’s EMPI tool was ranked the fourth-best solution overall. Formerly McKesson, the health IT vendor’s home care and hospice health IT solutions were recently acquired by Netsmart.

Cerner’s EMPI solution was ranked eighth, earning the top score for ease of deployment and implementation.

While health data exchange can boost provider communication and allow for better-informed clinical decision-making, lingering problems with patient identification errors and duplicate records can hurt hospitals more than they help.

Implementing an effective EMPI solution can reduce errors and improve patient matching accuracy to limit the unintended consequences of patient EHR sharing between providers, hospitals, and health systems.

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