Many hospitals and health systems have a duplicate medical record rate that can threaten patient safety by fragmenting the data available to clinicians. Reducing the number of duplicates can improve patient safety.
Northwell Health, based in New York City, recently addressed the problem of duplicate records. With 23 hospitals and more than 600 physician practices, patient records were being duplicated at the rate of 700 per day, explains Keely Aarnes, PMP, associate vice president for business operations. Leaders were aware of the problem, but there was a backlog of about 200,000 duplicate records.
Northwell addressed the duplicates with manual intervention using algorithms and deterministic logic, but was able to clear only about 300 a day.
While they considered that a huge win, the constant creation of duplicates meant they were being created at a faster rate than they could be resolved, Aarnes says. And there was still the backlog.
The health system then used an outside company to start addressing the low-hanging fruit, the duplicate records that could be quickly identified and resolved, while Northwell also ramped up its manual intervention by incentivizing employees to work on the duplicate backlog from home.
“It took us about 18 months to get through that. The outsourcing helped us reduce the inflow, and we moved people around to allocate resources in a way that helped reduce the backlog,” Aarnes says.
The progress was encouraging, but the duplicate rate was still unacceptable, she says.
At that point, Northwell sought a software solution that could address the duplicates more effectively. (Northwell used Auto-Steward from Verato, based in McLean, VA. Similar software systems are available from Occam in Hanover Park, IL, and Imprivata in Lexington, MA.)
Adding the software solution resolved 87% of the duplicate records and provides quick resolution of most of the duplicates generated every day.
It is effective largely because it has access to databases beyond those in the Northwell health system, Aarnes explains.
“All we can compare a record to is the data we have, which is very limited,” says Aarnes.
“But the software has a referential data set of 300 million-plus lives; it can access not just identity but things like outdated information and previous addresses that we don’t have,” she explains. “That kind of information can help resolve whether two records are, in fact, the same patient or not the same patient.”
- Keely Aarnes, PMP, Associate Vice President, Business Operations, Northwell Health, New York City. Phone: (888) 321-3627.