OutSmart EMR Knowledgebase

Learn to work smarter, faster.

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 patient records

The Patient Records Merging Tool quickly and easily helps you to merge duplicate patient records into your master patient record.

The Patient Merging Tool allows you to quickly transfer information from one patient record into another.

Your master patient record is the one that you intend to keep, while the duplicate patient record is the one that will eventually be removed.

Important Considerations

  1. We strongly recommend that the master patient record be the record that was created first – in other words, we do not recommend that you merge an older patient record into a newer one;  always try to merge newer records into older ones.
  2. If you are logged in as a practitioner when performing a patient records merge, the only data that will be merged is the data that you created, ie your Smart Charts, your Smart Forms, your uploaded documents, your appointments, etc.  If you are in a multi-practitioner clinic, your merge will not affect any of the other practitioners.  Because of this, it is strongly recommended that your clinic admin staff, logged into an admin account, perform any patient records merging for a clinic with multiple practitioners.  Patient merges performed from an admin account will affect all practitioners in the clinic.

Step 1: Open the Patient Records Merging Tool

The Patient Records Merging Tool is located on the Master Patient List page.  Click on the Merging Tool icon in the toolbar to open the merging interface.

How to open the Patient Records Merging Tool

Step 2: Select a Master Record, and a Duplicate Record

Once you have the Patient Records Merging Tool open, you will see 2 panels – one is for the Master Record, and one is for the Duplicate Record.  Don’t worry about which is which right now, just start by selecting one of them in the first left-side panel, and then select the next patient record in the second panel on the right.  Once the record are loaded, you’ll be able to see what each record has in the way of charts, documents, and other data.  You’ll also see the demographic information for each record.  At this point, you’ll want to decide which one of these records should be the master record, and which one should be the duplicate record.  Ideally the oldest record, ie the one with the most information in it, will be the master.

If you already selected this master record in the left side panel, then you’re all set to move on to the next step because the left side panel is by default designated for the Master Record.  But if you would prefer that the right side panel be designated as the Master Record, simply click on the “Set As Master” button to convert that record into the Master Record. Remember that the Master Record is the one that you will be keeping, while the Duplicate Record will be removed.

Click on “Set As Master” if you want to consider the right-side record as the Master Record. Remember that the Master Record is the one that you will be keeping, while the Duplicate Record will be removed.

Step 3: Transfer all documents and data from the Duplicate Record

Once you have loaded your two records, and designated one of them as the Master Record, you can now start the process of transferring data from one record to the next.

Click on the “Transfer All” button in the Patient Documents and Data section of the merging tool.  This will transfer all the documents, Smart Forms, Smart Charts, etc from the Duplicate Record over to the Master Record.

Remember that if you are logged in as a practitioner, this will only transfer the data that was created by you individually – so if you are in a multi-practitioner clinic, it is best for the admin staff to do a patient merge using their own admin accounts.  Admin accounts will merge all data created at the clinic by all clinic practitioners and admin staff.

Click on Transfer All in the Patient Documents and Data section to transfer all documents, Smart Charts, Smart Forms, etc from the Duplicate Record over to the Master Record.

Step 4: Verify and transfer demographics from the Duplicate Record

Once all the records are transferred successfully, the next step is to examine the patient demographics, and either transfer all the data, or selectively transfer some of the data.  You can also make modifications to the demographic data in the Master Record and save your changes.  The goal with a demographic merge is to ensure that the Master Record has all the latest demographic information about this patient.

Transfer all patient demographic data, or selectively transfer individual pieces of information from the Duplicate Record over to the Master Record.

Step 5: Remove the Duplicate Record.

Once your data and information transfer is complete, you can then remove the duplicate record.  Click on the ‘Remove Record’ button at the top of the Duplicate Record panel, and this will unlink you (if logged in as a practitioner) or your entire clinic (if logged in as an admin) from this patient record.  You can always re-link yourself to this patient record if needed down the road.