Patient identification and sharing medical information: the next challenge

Sharing patient files through unique patient identification: the next challenge

Merging healthcare organisations and integrated working across multiple care providers are just two scenarios whereby sharing medical information can lead to Patient identities duplications or clashes. To address this issue, hospital managers and IT departments can rely on highly powerful identity servers capable of merging identities.

Why is identity-vigilance now part of quality criteria for healthcare facilities?

Many problems which arise in healthcare organisations today are due to identifying patients.

This is common when patients have difficulty talking and no identification or patient records are available on admittance to Accident and Emergency – there can be confusion about double-barrelled first names or in increasingly-common cases of identity theft. In France, statistics show that 19% of medication errors and 1/3 of serious blood-related events to down to identity-vigilance errors. They can have significant legal or economic repercussions on healthcare organisations. That is why the World Health Organisation (WHO) made this issue one of the nine criteria of patient safety as early as back in 2007. French guardianship followed suit in 2011 with the Digital Hospital Program and the French Haute Autorité de Santé made identification throughout patient treatment a criterion that must be met in the certification processes for healthcare organisations.

Duplicate or clashing patient ID numbers

Each patient must now have a unique identification number – known in France as a Permanent Patient Identification (IPP) that will be used throughout their treatment. However, duplicates can occur when a patient has been registered in two different departments with two different IPPs, or more serious clashes whereby two people with exactly the same name accidentally merge under the same IPP. These malfunctions are mainly the result of human error, default verification, mistaken identity or IPP input, or more generally due to a lack of risk culture. These mistakes can also occur when IT software is either unsuitable or used by unauthorised personnel.

An essential quality criterion when healthcare organisations merge or provide services more widely

When healthcare organisations start providing services in wider geographies, and with independent specialists, there is a higher chance of technological error around patient identification if measures are not taken to prevent it. Patients’ medical data will be stored in folders that will need sharing over time. The goal is to improve patient care in hospitals, doctors’ surgeries and even in patients’ homes. How can we make sure that patients have the right identity? This can prove difficult as, firstly, not all healthcare organisations function the same way and secondly, the correct authorised access is not given to everyone involved throughout the process. In addition, the different patient identity management programmes used in different IT systems and structures are not always able to communicate with each other.

Highly powerful identity servers to merge two identities for the same patient

To overcome such issues, some solutions are able to merge one patient’s various different identities. Identity servers manage all these features and generate an anomaly-resolution workflow and can unite multiple identities all the while respecting identity-vigilance standards. Powerful algorithms compare the strict or extensive characteristics of different patients from identities taken from local or national databases. What makes these solutions so effective is their powerful algorithms which greatly reduce the risk of errors which can stem from healthcare organisation mergers or integrating services with other care providers.

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