Improving the accuracy of patient identification is a key challenge across all healthcare settings. Therefore, in a bid to reduce patient misidentification, the Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety—a multi-stakeholder collaborative convened and operated by the ECRI Institute—has launched its second set of Safe Practice Recommendations.

The Partnership’s evidence-based recommendations for the use of health IT in patient identification are designed to improve health IT safety and build upon other work in patient identification. In the just-released and publicly available toolkit, Health IT Safe Practices: Toolkit for the Safe Use of Health IT for Patient Identification, the Partnership presents eight safe practice recommendations, along with actionable resources to facilitate the implementation of these recommended safe practices.

The patient identification workgroup, chaired by Hardeep Singh, MD, MPH, from the Houston-based Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Baylor College of Medicine, was comprised of nearly 40 leaders from various participating collaborating organizations and provider facilities.

“Patient identification is a complex topic and our recommendations were derived using a three-pronged approach—that of catching, matching, and display,” says Singh. “Any focus for improving patient identification methods must include (1) accurate information gathering, or catching; (2) facilitation of accurate information matching; and (3) display of information to enhance patient identification.”

Following extensive review and discussion of the information, the group identified the following Safe Practice Recommendations. The resulting mnemonic encourages stakeholders to “IDENTIFY”:

  • Include: Electronic fields containing patient identification data should consistently use standard identifier conventions.
  • Detect: Use a confirmation process to help match the patient and the documentation.
  • Evaluate: Use standard attributes and attribute formats in all transactions to improve matching.
  • Normalize: Use a standard display of patient attributes across the various systems.
  • Tailor: Include distinguishing information enhancing identification on screens printouts, and those areas that require interventions.
  • Innovate: Integrate new technologies to facilitate and enhance identification.
  • Follow up: Implement monitoring systems to readily detect identification errors.
  • Yield: Include high-specificity active alerts and notifications to facilitate proper identification.

“I hope the toolkit will stimulate discussions about safe practices for the use of technology in patient identification, help facilitate implementation of the safe practices, and build a foundation for additional work in this area,” says ECRI Institute’s Lorraine Possanza, DPM, JD, MBE, program director.