One of the most important aspects of any given healthcare provider is patient information – the latter makes everything work and might even cause everything to go wrong! Patient data accuracy in healthcare facilities, as a result, must be immaculate at all times. Ensuring patient data integrity helps healthcare providers improve patient outcomes, gain accurate insights into the patient’s medical history, personalize the treatment, make informed decisions, and provide the right treatment at the right time.
That being said, let’s take a closer look at the importance of patient data accuracy in healthcare facilities and some practices that can boost patient data integrity and improve patient outcomes in the process.
Why Patient Data Accuracy in Healthcare Facilities is so Crucial
Hospitals and health systems exist primarily to treat their patients, and as the majority of healthcare providers have gone for EHR (electronic health record) systems, ensuring patient data integrity at all times becomes a priority. When EHRs contain accurate, complete, and concise information about the patients, providing accurate healthcare services becomes easier than ever – let’s see how patient data accuracy helps both patients and providers.
It Ensures Personalized and Accurate Patient Care
Personalized care is gaining a lot of attention for all the right reasons. It means using a combination of techniques, solutions, and strategies to ensure that the patient is engaged with their care and provide them with a customized experience – usually the way they want it. After all, a “one size fits all” approach is quite obsolete, even in healthcare. For instance, a patient might have several illnesses, and this requires a personalized approach to provide care for them. While all of this is quite progressive and improves healthcare outcomes, all of it hinges on accurate patient information.
As long as patient data is accurate, consistent, and up-to-date, healthcare providers can provide personalized care for their patients, retrieve medical histories to identify patterns, and rule out medical errors down the line.
It Ensures Efficient Communication Between Different Teams
Healthcare doesn’t only mean that there are physicians and nurses involved – they are important cogs in the much larger machine. Registrars, revenue cycle, IT personnel, pharmacy, paramedical department, and others work together to ensure that patients receive a safe and seamless experience that improves their health outcomes. However, when patient data is inaccurate, there are bound to be inconsistencies before, during, or after providing patient care. For instance, the patient receives proper care but someone else receives the bill due to a medical record error down the line. If data accuracy in healthcare facilities is ensured, then communication between the different teams and even with the patients will be consistent – ensuring proper healthcare outcomes and preventing shocks afterward.
All in all, ensuring patient data integrity ensures that patients are receiving proper care, complications are avoided, efficiency is increased, and patient safety incidents are reduced to a bare minimum. While those were the benefits, what are the consequences of patient data inaccuracies?
Consequences of Patient Data Inaccuracies
They Lead to Medical Record Errors
One of the most common consequences of patient data inaccuracies is the creation of medical record errors such as duplicates or overlays – most of which occur during the registration process.
It’s quite simple but deadly – a patient comes in, and due to inaccuracies within the EHR, the registrar assigns the wrong medical record of some other patient with the same name and characteristics, creating a medical record mix-p. While it might seem the EHR of the patient on paper, the lack of accurate patient identification makes it difficult to detect the accurate medical record of the patient in question.
In another scenario, the patient that comes in is provided an entirely new medical record – leading to a duplicate being created within the system. This new EHR will also contain wrong information as it doesn’t have the complete medical history of the patient in question.
However, one of the most dangerous medical record errors are overlays – these are created when medical records belonging to entirely different patients are merged. Just think of the consequences this one creates! Having said that, let’s move on to the second most obvious point – patient safety incidents.
They Lead to Patient Safety Incidents
This one is quite unsurprising – it’s quite natural that data inaccuracies will lead to the wrong treatment, medical errors, and worse, as physicians are armed with wrong information. Physicians make life-changing decisions, and if armed with the wrong information, it can be disastrous for the patients. The best-case scenario is that patients need to be readmitted, whereas the worst-case scenarios see the patients losing their lives – all because of inaccurate information. However, detrimental healthcare outcomes are just one of the several consequences.
They Increase Losses, Cause Denied Claims, and More
Once again, this is quite straightforward – data inaccuracies lead to losses, hitting the bottom lines quite hard.
A patient comes in for a visit, and after getting treatment, leaves the healthcare facility. The hospital, on the other hand, is working to send the proper information to the insurance company to receive the payment for the services. Unfortunately, due to data inaccuracies within the EHR, the wrong information gets red-flagged by the insurance company, resulting in the claim being denied.
Hospitals and health systems lose a significant amount of money due to denied claims, many of which can be traced back to medical record inconsistencies. Moreover, after receiving inaccurate treatment, patients might even sue the hospitals. All in all, patient data inaccuracies can be extremely costly for any given healthcare provider.
But how can healthcare providers ensure patient data integrity?
Practices That Ensure Patient Data Accuracy in Healthcare Facilities
Hospitals and health systems need to ensure that patient data is accurate, relevant, consistent, and complete at all times. While all of this might be overwhelming, it reduces costly mistakes and cases down the line, as explained in the previous points.
Hospitals and health systems can:
- Allocate personnel to routinely check EHR systems for inconsistencies such as new duplicate medical records or overlays
- Double-check and archive unnecessary EHRs such as those of deceased patients
- Regularly train and remind healthcare teams about the importance of properly creating and maintaining EHRs
- Use conventional standards for billing and coding to ensure compliance
- Utilize solutions that help reduce data inaccuracies such as touchless patient identification platforms
- Utilize dedicated personnel that can detect and address inaccuracies in patient information
Hospitals Must Prioritize Patient Data Accuracy in Healthcare Facilities
While many healthcare providers are already ensuring data accuracy in EHRs by utilizing the above practices, others are still suffering from patient misidentification, medical record mix-ups, lower patient data quality, litigation costs, and more. While they might be facing these issues due to different factors, working on improving patient data integrity is a good starting point that will ultimately help them down the line.