News Feature | September 26, 2013

Cleaning "Dirty Data"

Source: Health IT Outcomes
Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

HTO Virtual Credit Card

Can something as simple as a smart card prevent “dirty data” and Medicare fraud?

MedCity News notes, “In Harris County, TX, there are more than 69,000 pairs of people who share the same names and birth dates.” This shared information is confusing hospitals’ medical records systems with what’s called “dirty data.”

“Duplicate electronic medical records ...account for between 5 and 15 percent of all records (and) are created as a result of misspellings, typos, nicknames, etc., but the common thread is that they originate with patient registration,” writes MedCity News, which goes on to quote David Batchelor, creator of LifeMed ID. “Right now there’s no way for an individual registration clerk to know that it is you that they’re admitting and that they got the right you. There are standards (for patient registration), but there’s no way to audit whether those standards are adopted.”

Batchelor created LifeMed ID to address “healthcare industry challenges such as confirming patient identity, registration bottlenecks, clipboard registration, duplicate records, registration errors, and an increased need for a higher level of privacy and security.”

Using smart cards in the registration process would connect patients to the cloud and automatically pull up the correct health information. This would also speed up the registration process - no more searching for the correct name - and allowing patients to have one portable way to access their information at all their appointments within the network. Another situation where a smart card would be valuable would be in the event of a disaster where patients are displaced and need emergency care. In this case, the card would provide important information about allergies, prescriptions, and insurance to providers responding to the situation.

Medicare smart cards have been proposed to identify patients and combat Medicare fraud, according to eHealth Medicare, which writes Representative Jim Gerlach (R-PA), has proposed the technology as an effort to benefit the Medicare Program. “Under this proposal, no external information would be printed on the card (like Medicare numbers are today). Instead, a user’s data would be housed on an internal data chip. Card readers would be installed at participating areas for all services, and a beneficiary would swipe their card in order to receive any Medicare-related amenity. This would create an electronic record of the transaction, which would then allow for easier monitoring and investigation into any alleged instances of Medicare fraud.”

Gerlach’s proposal would benefit Medicare in a number of ways, including:

  • Increase the quality of care furnished to Medicare beneficiaries
  • Improve the accuracy and efficiency in the billing for Medicare items and services furnished by Medicare providers
  • Reduce the potential for identity theft and other unlawful use of Medicare beneficiary and provider identifying information
  • Reduce waste, fraud, and abuse in the Medicare program
  • Evaluate the efficiencies of patient matching