When name and birthdate aren’t enough, it’s eMPI to the rescue.

When your hospital or healthcare facility has multiple records for a singular patient, you have what we like to refer to as “patient dupes.” This costly mishap is a result of necessary systems in place to create and maintain EHRs. According to this article, the cost to fix a single mistaken duplicate record can be nearly $1,000. Factor in the costs of denied claims and unnecessary patient care, and your total losses for duplicate patient records just keep mounting.

Why so many duplicate records?

It’s estimated that nearly 92% of duplicate records occur at patient registration. Changes – such as an address, surname, or insurance carrier – can cause a registrar difficulty when locating an existing record. Unable to locate an existing patient record within a hospital information system (HIS), a staff member creates a new record for a patient who is already in the system. In 2016, it was estimated that up to 12% of all patient records are duplicates.

While your hospital information system catches some duplicates, even the “best” systems only have a matching rate of 75%. That’s because only basic matching systems are used by most HIS. This leaves a rather large – and costly – gap.

Duplicate patient records undermine good data.

Another area of concern is the unfortunate effects of duplicate records on quality data. In past posts, we’ve shared how vital good data is to an organization and to the healthcare industry as a whole.

Some of the benefits, as outlined here, include:

  • Linking data to provide “patient-centric” care across the continuum
  • Meeting the goals of Population Health, which rely on matching individual healthcare records
  • Providing metrics that are useful for researchers and system analysts
  • Finance departments rely on good data for programs like value-based purchasing, revenue cycle management, and risk-share reimbursement modeling.

“Patient matching is almost universally needed to enable the interoperability of health data for all kinds of purposes. Patient matching also requires careful consideration with respect to its effect on patient safety and administrative costs,” writes Steven Posnack, who leads the ONC Health IT Certification Program.

Dump the Dupes.

One solution that’s seeing a lot of results in our industry is an Enterprise Master Patient Index (eMPI). More sophisticated than the matching systems used by most HIS, an eMPI utilizes a match engine that’s either deterministic or probabilistic.

Looking beyond basic data like date of birth, address, and surnames, an eMPI applies advanced query logic to patient data that allow the index to match medical records across disparate systems. This filters out false positives to achieve a greater degree of patient matching accuracy.

As with any industry’s database management plan, healthcare organizations should put protocols in place to proactively prevent bad data from resurfacing once it has been systematically eliminated. Training staff, standardizing data collection policies, and staying up to date on eMPI technologies are the best ways an organization can dump the patient dupes.

Seth Hobgood is CTO at Interoptex.

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