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Duplicate Patient Records – A serious threat to the healthcare industry

By |2020-07-20T09:46:15+00:00June 24th, 2020|

There has indeed been rampant digitalization across majority of the organizations throughout the world and the healthcare sector isn’t far behind. Digitalization entails that there is an integration of inherent digital technologies into everyday business processes. With the increasing number of healthcare providers revamping their processes and going digital, data quality issue remains a major concern.  Most healthcare service providers have very well-identified that their Master Patient Indexes (MPIs) have significant issues related to data quality. According to the American Health Information Management Association, an average hospital has a 10% duplicate rate of patient records. The negative implications of duplicate medical records are many and these records adversely affect patient safety, medical care costs, data accuracy, and the quality of reports.

We are very well aware of the fact that patient identification and matching is of prime importance to the healthcare facilities all over the world. Healthcare professionals are constantly involved in monitoring and correcting duplicate medical records. Nevertheless, the issue of duplicate medical records is still plaguing these facilities and the healthcare professionals are inarguably struggling with the ramifications of this critical issue.

ways to prevent duplicate medical records

What are duplicate medical records and how are they created?

As the name clearly indicates, duplicate medical records are defined as two or more records assigned to a single person at the same healthcare facility. These duplicate records are created mostly due to patient identification errors. It is also to be noted that a major chunk of these duplicate records consists of partial duplicates which only contain a portion of the actual patient data. Sometimes, a patient’s record is overwritten using data from another patient’s record, hence creating an inaccurate combined record (also called as overlay).

Duplicate patient records are mostly derived from data entry errors, poor patient matching, multiple name variations, and lack of proper data transmission between different systems used by a healthcare facility. There are several ways in which duplicate patient records are created and it starts as early as the admissions stage. Many healthcare providers make use of multiple systems for different processes, which increase the issue of duplicate data. Facilities that register patients at multiple checkpoints face significant problems related to the creation of multiple records for a single patient. Most times, with multiple checkpoints in the picture, it becomes difficult for the healthcare staff to use the same set of identifiers. Different sets of details collected at these multiple checkpoints add to this issue, and in many cases, identifiers can change as well. Human error plays a major role in duplicate record creation. In many cases, people related to the patient provide erroneous information at the registration desks as well.

Repercussions of duplicate medical records

Duplicate medical records and overlays pose a significant threat to the patients. Inaccurate patient matching can result in erroneous procedures and a significant danger to the patient. For instance, consider a patient record which has many duplicates, each of these duplicates will have some information or the other and will be missing some details too. The duplicate record may miss out on critical information such as the medical history of the patient, ongoing medications, blood type, allergies, or any other diagnostics. Imagine that a patient is treated on the basis of these incomplete or inaccurate details, serious complications are bound to occur, right?

These inaccurate records can cause unnecessary complications and inappropriate treatment and care that can cause more harm to the patient. The cost incurred by the facility for duplicate testing and making their Master Patient Indexes duplicate free is another story. Duplicate medical records can also have a negative impact on communications with the patient and result in problems during patient referrals. There are also cases of reimbursement losses, resource drains, security concerns, administrative inefficiencies, and a significant decrease in medical data integrity. These duplicate records significantly complicate and slow down the claims and billing processes. Monitoring and tracking initiatives are also affected as duplicate and overlay records tend to skew the data.

ways to prevent duplicate medical records


According to a survey carried out by Black Book, in which they interviewed around 1,392 healthcare technology managers, the average expense of repeated medical care because of duplicate records was $1,950 per patient per inpatient stay and over $800 per emergency department visit. The research further talks about the fact that 33% of all denied insurance claims result due to inaccurate patient identification or information costing the US healthcare system over $6 billion annually. Additionally, the clean-up period for facilities with over 150 beds and hundreds of thousands of records averages over 5 months, consisting of steps such as data validity, normalization, checking, and data cleansing. A 2018 survey by Imprivata and demonstrated that 17% of healthcare CIOs from a pool of 55 healthcare facilities reported an incident of patient harm at their facility due to duplicate patient records and around 40% reported privacy breaches. Another research carried out by Experian Health states that the cost incurred by an average hospital having around 800,000 records is estimated to be around $3.2M-$4.8M.

Duplicate medical records indeed pose a serious threat to the healthcare sector and there is an urgent need to remedy this issue. We recommend you to check out Duplicate Search & Merge for Salesforce. Offered by Mirketa, Duplicate Search & Merge is a pretty handy deduplication tool that can very effectively be used to manage duplicate data and incomplete records. It resolves all the data duplicity issues in a very easy configurable manner using out-of-box salesforce functionalities. Since it inherently runs natively on Salesforce, data does not leave the Salesforce org. This ensures complete data security as there is no data transfer at any point. You can also easily automate your deduplication processes through the smart scheduler and ensure that your data remains duplicate free!

Duplicate Search & Merge makes data cleansing very easy through its simple yet powerful 5-step approach! The user is guided seamlessly through each of these steps. You can easily select the object with duplicate data and set the desired filters by choosing the right fields. You then need to select the criteria to decide the master record (record to be retained) and search the duplicate records which are displayed. The last step of merging duplicates happens in the background and an email consisting of the links of the chosen master records is sent to the user. It is indeed pretty simple, isn’t it?

ways to prevent duplicate medical records

You can easily check out Duplicate Search & Merge and use it to solve all your duplicate data issues!



  1. Elean August 29, 2020 at 5:06 am - Reply

    What’s up friends, fastidious piece of writing.

    • Mirketa Inc September 2, 2020 at 5:56 am - Reply

      Thank you!

  2. Marcia August 30, 2020 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    What’s up, all is ցoing perfectly һere and ofcourse every one is sharіng facts, that’s genuinelу
    fine, keep up writing.

    • Mirketa Inc September 2, 2020 at 6:00 am - Reply

      We appreciate that, Marcia. Thank You!

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