A recent article by Patricia Consolver, Minimizing Duplicate Patient Records to Maximize Cash Flow, highlighted the relationship between a reduction in duplicate patient records and increases in revenue cycle efficiency. A 2008 RAND Corporation study found that the average duplicate patient record is 8 percent. In addition to the inherent risks to patient safety, duplicate and incorrect patient identifications have the potential to impair downstream financial activities such as delayed payments, appeals, and denials.
The costs associated with duplicate records also include instances of repetitious lab and diagnostic tests that were performed, but documented in a duplicate record. Insurance companies often deny claims for repetitive tests. This results in care that the hospital will not be reimbursed for and cannot collect.
Texas Health Resources, a 13-hospital system that serves over 1 million patients per year, implemented a four-step process during the transition to EHRs that resulted in a duplicate patient record rate of 0.36 percent.
The Four-Step Process
1. Scrubbing the existing MPI
2. Identifying and selecting the correct patient records
3. Educating key stakeholders on avoiding duplicate creation
4. Monitoring performance
Education was necessary to ensure the EHR did not devolve to the state of MPI's duplicate records. Texas Health Resources education efforts were focused on both registration and medical record department employees. These courses emphasized the importance of using a full, legal name and the ways that duplicate records affect downstream activities in several areas of the hospital's operations. Data integrity teams were created to monitor the records and focus new education efforts on common mistakes that needed to be corrected.
The implementation of similar systems is being evaluated at hospitals across the country as Meaningful Use requirements become effective.