One of the major building blocks of the Affordable Care Act is the mandate to digitize patient records. These electronic health records (EHRs) are meant to help the transition between different healthcare providers as the patient moves from one doctor or hospital to another.

Unfortunately, as it stands now, it’s not uncommon for patients to end up with a completely new record at the new hospital. Paper doesn’t always travel easily, and a big, thick file could fall completely by the wayside. That means the new doctor is completely reliant on what the patient tells her. Not only is this dangerous, but it also creates a lot of unnecessary work on the part of the new hospital’s admin staff. With all of the duplicate files floating around, how can anyone be certain of the most updated file? With a lack of information, the new doctors may end up testing for things that have already been proven, causing the patient undue stress and added costs, leading to an unhappy patient.

Automatic Matching Systems

As part of the ACA, many health technology companies have emerged with products that are meant to match and merge patient records. The premise is simple enough, but unfortunately, a lot of these technologies don’t always work together. Worse, the technologies don’t always work well on their own. It’s been estimated that these new situations may incorrectly match patient records at a rate of 1% up to 50%.

Mismatching patient records can be even more dangerous to a patient than not having the records available in the first place, and when it comes time to bill for services rendered, it creates a whole new wave of confusion that can cause serious issues with revenue cycle management.

New Opportunities

Fortunately, the American Health Information Management Association is working to make this more fluid. Their model, which should be released later this year, includes a tool that helps hospitals identify where their patient record matching approach breaks down—like poor or inadequate training, for example.

While these technologies are costly, there’s a clear financial reason to find a worthy solution: it’s estimated that better-matched records could save hospitals up to $5 million annually. That eases the pressure on the revenue cycle and allows you to use other resources to help make sure patients having a good experience throughout your walls.

The Human Component

Of course, no technology will ever be 100% perfect. Attempting to get all of those solutions to cooperate seamlessly is too difficult a task, even greater than finding the correct matching algorithm in the first place.

A strong support staff will also be a necessary component of patient record matching. A human can look and see immediate discrepancies that a program may not be able to. In a case such as this, it’s important to build your patient records staff and account receivable staff of strong, detail-oriented people who are able to communicate effectively with patients and provide them the top-notch customer service that they deserve.

If you’re interested in how HCM’s team of detail-oriented staff of Accounts Receivable professionals can help your hospital manage the revenue cycle, contact us today.