COVID-19’s Effect on Patient Matching and Just Associates’ Response

Posted in News on Monday, April 05, 2021.

COVID-19’s Effect on Patient Matching and Just Associates’ Response

Be it financial, emotional or physical, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected just about everything over the past year.

What can’t be overlooked, however, is how the virus has impacted the patient-matching crisis that has long plagued the healthcare industry. And it is a crisis. According to a 2016 report, 86% of health professionals witnessed or know of an error caused by patient misidentification, and a 2017 study conducted by the American Hospital Association reported that patient data that was inaccurate, incomplete or erroneous costs the average healthcare facility more than $1 million per year.

COVID-19’s contribution to this problem revolves around self-scheduling, beginning with the recent boom in telehealth, which allowed patients and doctors to communicate without exposing either to a possible infection. Prior to the pandemic, telehealth visits were projected to be at about 36 million. For 2021, however, those projections are expected to rocket past 440 million. This doesn’t appear to be a passing fad — according to a HIMSS report, Consumer Perspectives on Telehealth, 77% of patients plan to use some form of telehealth after the pandemic passes, and 41% considered it their preference in certain circumstances.

Karen Proffitt, Vice President of Data Integrity Solutions for our client Just Associates, writes that for all of the good it has done, telehealth is not immune to patient matching problems. In fact, it has exacerbated them.

“Anecdotally, a number of our clients have shared that telehealth has led to a bump in duplicate records,” Proffitt explains. “This typically happens when patients create new accounts to self-schedule telehealth visits. When the new account doesn’t match an existing MRN (medical record number), a duplicate record is created in the system for HIM to deal with.”

Problems born out of self-scheduling aren’t limited to just telehealth. An important element in the industry’s response to the pandemic has been the empowerment of patients to schedule themselves for tests and vaccines. One unintended consequence of this, however, has been a surge in duplicate patient records. People who are anxious to register for tests or schedule vaccines but inexperienced in searching for their medical records inadvertently create a new one — and wind up wreaking havoc on a healthcare organization’s master patient index. This problem could become so severe at some clinics that they may have to temporarily shut the portals down — and by doing so, taking away a valuable weapon in the battle against COVID-19.

In her blog, Rapid Relief From Surging Duplicate Rates, Lora Hefton, Executive Vice President for Just Associates, explains how the company has created a solution — IDRelief™, which “enables rapid and continuous remediation of high volumes of possible duplicate/crossover pairs without taking away a powerful pandemic response tool.”

IDRelief combines Just Associates’ proven methodology for leveraging multiple third-party data sources with its team of highly trained experts and, as always, renown comprehensive quality assurance procedures, to identify pairs with like-discrepancy patterns. In many cases, IDRelief can be up and running within a week, Hefton said, which is crucial as the healthcare industry tries to maintain its momentum against the pandemic.

COVID-19 has only worsened the patient identification crisis. However, thanks to solutions such as IDRelief, companies like Just Associates are making sure the healthcare industry doesn’t have to put a pause on self-scheduling and self-registration, and will be prepared for the continued emergence of telehealth — all of which are critical elements in finally putting an end to the pandemic.

Social Bookmarks

Comments (0)

Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest.

Cancel Submitting comment...