Black Book: Duplicate patient records cost hospitals almost $2k per inpatient stay

Hospitals without comprehensive enterprise master patient indexes face significant financial burdens from inaccurately identifying patients, according to a Black Book Research report.

For the report, Black Book Research surveyed 1,392 health technology managers about challenges and successes in their respective organizations' patient identification processes. Duplicate and fragmented medical records often lead to inaccurate patient identification, which ties into a host of patient safety and reimbursement issues, according to the survey respondents.

Survey respondents attributed roughly 33 percent of denied claims to inaccurate patient identification, costing the average hospital $1.5 million in 2017. The average cost of repeated medical care due to inaccurate patient identification with a duplicate record, for example, is roughly $1,950 per inpatient stay and more than $800 per emergency department visit, according to Black Book Research.

Survey respondents whose organizations used EMPIs noted that, prior to deploying the patient identification tool, an average of 18 percent of an organization's medical records tended to be duplicates. Hospitals with EMPI support tools in place since 2016 reported correct patient identification with outside shared records at a match rate of 85 percent.

For hospitals with 150-plus beds, the average time for an EMPI cleanup was more than five months. This process included improvements related to data validity checking, normalization and cleansing.

"As data sharing grows and challenges in connectivity are tackled, resolving patient record matching issues has become more urgent and complex," said Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book Research.

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