OutSmart EMR Knowledgebase

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Merging or Deleting Duplicate Patient Records

The duplication of a patient record in your account can happen for a few different reasons.  This article will explain how to properly remove duplicates and merge the records, and also address the cause of duplication to prevent it from recurring.

Why does duplication happen?

It’s important to understand why a duplicate patient record may have been created before going ahead and deleting them, because you may simply end up with a duplicate again in the future if the cause of the duplication is not addressed.  Here are some reasons why duplication may occur, and what to do about it.

Duplication due to human error or data imports

If the duplication was caused in error by yourself or a member of the clinic, then it is safe to simply select a patient record you want to keep, and then remove the duplicate.  The only fear or recurrence here is if someone duplicated the record by accident again.  These errors can be prevented by ensuring that you check your patient list for the existence of a patient record before creating a new record.

Duplication that occurs due to data import cannot easily be prevented, but again, you can simply choose one to keep and delete the other.

Duplication due to Online Booking or SmartForm Guest Link use

If duplication of a patient record occurred during the online booking process, or when a patient accessed a SmartForm Guest Link, then this is likely because the information they entered to identify themselves did not match any information on record in your patient list.  The information used to match patients to their patient record is their first name, last name, and date of birth.  More info on this is available here.

If a duplication occurred for this reason, then it’s important to note 2 things.  First, the patient has entered their first name, last name and date of birth as they prefer to do.  Second, This has created a patient portal account for them, and connected this patient portal account to a new patient record.  Because of this, you should try to keep the record that was created, and remove the older record.  If you remove the new record created by the patient during online booking, then this record will simply re-appear the next time the patient books online. (There are ways to prevent this, but it’s best to keep things simple and keep the new record).

Duplication due to invited practitioners having seen the same patient

If you invite a practitioner to your clinic, and this practitioner has already seen one of your patients in their own practice before they were invited to your clinic, then admin staff may see duplicate patients in the office patient list.  Duplication due to this situation should normally not be merged.  Although it can be inconvenience, this duplication is the result of 2 completely separate patient records that are equally valid and represent records owned by different practitioners.  It is not recommended to delete this duplication.  If this is a real issue, contact us to discuss and we can suggest alternative options.

How to merge the records

The only way at present to merge duplicate patient records in OutSmart is to manually transfer all information from one record to the other, and then to unlink the unwanted record.  The information that may need to be transferred is:

  • Scheduled Events
  • Invoices
  • SOAP Charts
  • Smart Forms
  • Documents
  • Demographic Information (This must be done manually.)

Step 1: Choose which record to remove

Taking the previously described possible duplication scenarios into consideration, start by choosing which record will be removed and which one will be kept.  For the record that will be removed, add the words “remove” or “duplicate” to the name of the patient, so that you can more easily identify which record to get rid of and avoid confusion.

Step 2: Transfer information

The next step is to transfer all the information from one record to the next by changing the patient record associated with that information.  The following series of articles will show you how to do this for each type of data associated with the duplicated patient record.

How to transfer a scheduled event from one patient record to another.

How to transfer invoices from one patient record to another.

How to transfer SOAP Charts from one patient record to another.

How to transfer SmartForms from one patient record to another.

How to transfer documents from one patient record to another.

Step 3: Unlink / Remove the duplicate patient record

Once the information is transferred, you an then unlink the unwanted patient record from your list.