Visit your doctor or pharmacy and the first thing you’re asked is to provide your name and birth date. You know the drill. What you might not realize is that pharmacies are a hub for information including patient data, prescription transaction data, supply chain data, therapeutic clinical data, insurance data and marketplace data. All of these data sets could possibly reside in different systems. This makes the task of pulling it together to understand your health circumstance more holistically quite difficult. So when you provide your name and birth date – the hope is all those records will magically come together so the pharmacist can provide you with the best consult possible. Because of the serious errors that can occur if these records are not joined correctly, there is a push to deploy a Universal Patient Identifier (UPI).

Since the U.S. doesn’t have a UPI system, doctors and pharmacists use your name and birth date to identify you. The problem? There can be hundreds of similar names and dates in electronic medical record (EMR) systems. It’s like trying to find the right John Smith or Lisa Brown on Facebook without profile photos to help.

But this is about more than a Universal Patient Identifier – it’s about people’s lives

When mistakes are made in identifying patients, medical information can get placed into the wrong health record. Errors occur anywhere on a patient’s healthcare journey in any setting, from hospitals and nursing homes to physician offices and pharmacies. Every scan, lab test, doctor appointment and prescription becomes an additional point where mistakes can be introduced into the medical records or duplicate records created.

You can probably deduce some of the big concerns here:

  • compromised patient safety
  • missed diagnoses
  • inappropriate treatments
  • unnecessary tests
  • almost impossible data sharing between pharmacies and provider

The time is approaching when pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers will likely be required to adopt some form of universal patient identifier as a secondary ID for members and patients. Think of it as Social Security numbers for medical records. But the industry can’t wait until then to address patient data management.

Pharmacies should consider LexID for Healthcare

As leaders in the healthcare industry, each one of us needs to drive toward better patient identification and identity management. There are things pharmacies and PBMs can do today to get a handle on their patient data management needs. Cleansing, de-duping, and adding missing pieces of information all help round out a patient’s profile. This way, pharmacists can be confident that when they are consulting with a patient they have all of the relevant information in front of them. These technologies and analytic platforms help increase interoperability (sharing of patient data), improve patient record linking between disparate data sources and prevent medical errors.

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Checkout a recent whitepaper, Preventing harm: Linking the right patient with the right record and prescription to learn more about this issue.