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Hidden Costs of Duplicate Patient Records: Reducing Waste

by Gordon Cooper, Founder and CEO, VisionWare, and Christie Scanlon, healthcare cost consultant, Scanlon Enterprises, LLC

*Following is an excerpt of an article originally published in HFMA’s Healthcare Cost Containment newsletter.

Duplicate and unmatched patient records in hospitals and health systems are likely costing those organizations more than they realize. Inefficiencies caused by duplicate records infect operations in numerous departments of hospitals.

Areas of Cost Impact

The inefficiencies of duplicate patient records impact hospitals in five areas:

  • Patient registration
  • Patient accounting
  • Clinical errors
  • Unnecessary care
  • Patient satisfaction

So many of these issues – from billing errors to repeat tests to inefficient check-in and administration processes – can lead to negative experiences for patients or their loved ones and caregivers. Increasingly, high copayments and deductibles are making patients more sensitive to billing issues than ever. And in a world where patients as consumers have a voice now more than ever as a result of social media, negative reviews can spread like wildfire.

Enough bad experiences translate into a bad reputation, leading members of a community to take their business elsewhere. These days, patients also realize that healthcare is a business, and to the extent that they have choices in a market, they will take their business to someone they trust.

Reduce Duplicates with an EMPI (Enterprise Master Patient Index)

In choosing an EMPI solution for your organization, several factors must be considered. Look for a solution that can be scaled across the organization and offers the following elements:

  • A single installer, ensuring you can start ingesting data quickly
  • An approach to product design that allows the organization to move toward full independence quickly
  • Easy-to-configure matching rules that enable you to monitor the health of the system

Once you’ve selected the best solution, work with your EMPI partner to decide which data sources to bring into the new system, assess the quality of that data, and start matching patient records to identify duplicates and gaps in information. Once the data is in the EMPI system, you will be able to focus on ongoing data stewardship, managing your duplicates going forward.

Putting It All Together

Duplicate records infect many aspects of hospital operations with costly inefficiencies. These types of problems are only escalating with trends such as mergers between providers, payers, and even retailers such as CVS and Amazon. More disparate systems mean the care coordination mandated by value-based payment models will be more complicated than ever. There is a cost to not planning for these known inefficiencies sooner rather than later.

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Topics: EMPI, Health Systems, Hospitals

Posted by Gordon Cooper on 30 May 2018

About the author
Gordon Cooper

Gordon Cooper

CEO, VisionWare


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