Patient Identification can dramatically improve patient care and the hospital’s bottom line, according to new report

Lexington, MA – December 13, 2016 Imprivata®, the healthcare IT security company, today released results of a new study which reveals that, as the healthcare industry has transitioned to digital health records, patient misidentification has become rampant and carries significant consequences that negatively impact patient care and the hospital’s financial performance. The survey of 503 top-level healthcare executives and care providers across the U.S. revealed that:

  • According to 64 percent of respondents, a patient is misidentified in the typical healthcare facility very frequently or all the time, amplifying prior studies that show that 0.6 percent of patients experience an adverse event due to misidentification.
  • The patient misidentification crisis is costing the average clinician 28.2 minutes in wasted time per shift.
  • The average healthcare facility loses $17.4 million per year in denied claims and potential lost revenue due to patient misidentification alone.
  • According to three-quarters of survey respondents, patient misidentification errors could be avoided by using biometric patient identification technologies.

“Patient misidentification is a longstanding and unfortunately growing issue facing hospitals nationwide,” said Mollie Drake, former Corporate Director of Access Management at Scripps Health, a leading nonprofit integrated health system based in San Diego, California. “Clearly, misidentification can cause inconvenience, and even harm for patients, but this report shines a spotlight on what many people don’t see — that it also has unfavorable effects on clinician productivity and the hospital’s revenue cycle.”

For the 2016 National Patient Misidentification Report, Imprivata collaborated with The Ponemon Institute, the preeminent research center dedicated to privacy, data protection, and information security policy, to identify the root causes of patient misidentification and its impact on healthcare organizations and their patients. According to 63 percent of respondents, the primary cause of patient misidentification is incorrect identification at the registration desk, and 67 percent of respondents revealed that they almost always have difficulty finding accurate patient information due to the existence of duplicate medical records. These and other primary root causes of patient misidentification including registrar errors, over reliance on homegrown identification systems, and misinformation from patients, lead to patients being misidentified.

Patient identification errors are a direct threat to patient safety. Of respondents, 86 percent said that they have witnessed or known of a medical error that was the result of patient misidentification. Additionally, the survey showed that misidentification at registration results in medical errors at the point of care for treatments such as blood transfusions, radiation overdoses, and medication errors.

Patient misidentification incidents also impact the financial side of the healthcare ecosystem. Survey respondents attributed inaccurate patient identification or incomplete patient information as the reason for 35 percent of all medical claims being denied, which are valued at an estimated $17.4 million per year per hospital. Patient misidentification also contributes to a loss of productivity for clinicians. According to the survey, the average time clinicians waste per shift is 28.2 minutes, costing the average healthcare organization $900,000 per year in lost productivity.

“Not only is positive patient identification vital to making the delivery of healthcare in our country as safe as possible, but it’s also the key to enabling interoperability,” said Clay Ritchey, Chief Marketing Officer at Imprivata. “If patients are identified accurately and consistently, we can establish a ubiquitous trust for patient identity that will allow the exchange of patient data across disparate systems to become a reality.”

Of the technologies available to prevent patient misidentification, survey respondents focused on biometrics as an effective solution for preventing financial loss and improving the patient experience. Nearly three-quarters of respondents believe that positively identifying a patient at registration through biometrics could improve cash flow for their hospitals. Additionally, three-quarters of respondents said that positively identifying a patient at registration through biometrics could reduce denied claims by an average of 25 percent.

The full survey results can be found here.