Managing Patient Demographics

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The Harvard Community Health Plan commissioned a cross-functional project team to improve the accuracy of the members' data base because inaccurate patient phone numbers and addresses were a major obstacle for clinicians seeking to provide high-quality service to patients. Accurate demographic information is essential to enable clinicians to contact patients quickly regarding lab results or follow-up care. The team members applied a quality improvement problem-solving methodology that required them to focus on the few vital problems and to test problems using data analysis. As a result, the team saw firsthand that staff members were not to blame for the inaccurate demographic information; the problem was in the automated system that obtains, updates, and maintains the records.

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