Avoid Duplicate Patient Records

patient records

Duplicate patient records are a common issue for healthcare organizations. They’re typically the result of human errors, inaccurate information provided by patients, and poor internal processes. Not only do duplicate patient records take up extra time and effort,  they aren’t always exactly the same. Patient information is often stored in several separate documents, leading to poor patient identification and hindering patient outcomes. 

Duplicate patient records may also raise issues with HIPAA compliance. The good news is there are a number of strategies that can help all types of healthcare entities avoid duplicate patient records and the various burdens they often bring. Fast Chart is here to dive deeper into what some of these strategies are.

Use a Unique Patient Identifier

A unique patient identifier or UPI is a great way to prevent duplicate patient records. It can identify and match patients across various systems and environments. Depending on the practice, it may be a barcode, number, biometric, or a combination of these identifiers. Since it reduces dependance on demographic data, which is often inconsistent and inaccurate, a UPI may help prevent the creation of duplicate patient records. It can also bring consistency to healthcare organizations, especially those that operate in different locations or practice telemedicine.

Create a Comprehensive Patient Registration Process

While it may take time to implement a robust patient registration process, it will likely be worthwhile if your goal is to avoid duplicate records. Ideally, your process would include a patient verification system, a way to validate the UPI or assign one if it doesn’t already exist, a search for existing records via different criteria,  and a confirmation of whether a match is found or a new patient record is required. It’s also vital that a registration process uses consistent, standardized formats, fields, and values plus notifications to mark potential errors or duplicates.

Take Advantage of Search Filters

Search filters can make it a breeze to retrieve patient information and determine whether duplicate records exist. Depending on your electronic system, you may filter by demographics, conditions, medications, and more. Be sure all relevant stakeholders understand how to use search filters as they may not be obvious and user-friendly. 

Train Staff

Your staff should be well informed on the issues with duplicate patient records and what they can do to prevent them. It’s up to you to train them in how to use the UPI and patient registration process to help reduce their risk. Encourage your staff to ask questions and report any challenges they may come across as they work to keep duplicates to a minimum. Remember, knowledge is power.

Perform Data Audits

It’s wise to keep tabs on patient records and audit them on an ongoing basis. This way you can find duplicate patient records early on and resolve any errors or inconsistencies that may be causing them. Routine data audits may also provide you with the information you need to communicate data quality to key stakeholders so measures for improvement can be implemented. 

Involve Stakeholders

There are many stakeholders that can be impacted by duplicate patient records, either directly or indirectly. By collaborating and communicating with them, you can ensure everyone is on the same page and there is no confusion on what needs to be done to minimize duplicates and preserve the integrity of your data. Some examples of internal and external stakeholders include healthcare providers, patients, insurance companies, vendors, and regulators. 

Contact Fast Chart Today

If you have questions about duplicate patient records and what you can do to prevent them, we encourage you to reach out to our team. Fast Chart understands how to reduce their risk and can be an invaluable resource for your organization. We look forward to hearing from you!

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