Audit Commission finds 95,000 ghosts
More than 95,000 “ghost patients” have been removed from GP lists with the help of a new web application.
The National Duplicate Registration Initiative is an Audit Commission exercise that matches data from various sources to review GP patient lists across England and Wales and identify inaccuracies.
The newly released results of the 2009-10 audit reveal that more than 95,000 registered patients were removed from GP lists, saving primary care trusts in excess of £6.1m a year.
More than 32,000 of these patients had died, including nearly 500 people who had died more than 20 years ago.
The GP patient list data is held on the national health applications and infrastructure services system from which a snap-shot of the data was extracted in October 2009.
This data was then cross-matched between local systems and with a variety of other databases to help find duplicates or inaccuracies in the data, possibly because the patient has died or has moved house.
Where potential inaccuracies or irregularities were seen, these “matches” were passed back to NHAIS sites through the commission's secure NDRI web application.
The commission said significant improvements had been made to the method for reporting matches since the last NDRI exercise in 2004 thanks to a bespoke product developed for the job.
The new web-based application allows data matches to be hosted on a secure website and uses the same computer architecture as the Audit Commission’s National Fraud Initiative web application.
“It is password protected and encrypted to 128 bit secure sockets layer standards both for the transmission of data to the commission and disclosure of the results of data matching to participants,” the Commission told eHealth Insider.
“This system has undergone full accreditation against the government’s information assurance standards and is formally accredited to handle, store and process information up to restricted classification levels.”
The web application also includes case management tools which allow users to track the progress of their investigations and record outcomes.
The NHAIS sites review the matches and report patient list removals back to the Audit Commission through the same secure system.
The initiative also helps patients' medical records to be transferred to their new GP where previously the system was unable to link the patient's old and new GP registrations.
The medical records of nearly 30,000 patients were able to be transferred to their new GP following the 2009-10 audit.
The Commission said the government should consider strengthening patient registration procedures to prevent patient fraud and error by requiring GPs to request identification and proof of address when a new patient registers.
Also, to look at how government departments can share information about patients who have left the country. The last NDRI exercise in 2004 resulted in 185,000 patients being removed from GP lists.
Last updated: 29 February 2012 16:19
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