October 29th, 2021

Your Patient Data is Wrong

David Wright
Written byDavid WrightChief Operating Officer

Billing addresses, mobile phone numbers, PCPs and more are 10 - 25% incorrect

For a health system, accurate patient data can mean life or death, literally for the patient, and figuratively for the economics of the hospital. An accurate mobile phone number means a reachable patient after an abnormal pathology report, and an accurate mailing address or email means there’s a chance a medical bill will actually be paid.

However, looking across the 80+ hospitals that Vital works with, we find patient data issues abound. Vital invites patients to it’s ERAdvisor product, which provides AI-powered wait times based on the timing of events and volumes in your EHR, using a text-message link. That means we know how many fake phone numbers are given. One might be surprised at how often people give 867-5309 as their phone number. Just ask for “Jenny” when a critical lab result comes in.

At least 10% of mobile numbers we see are unreachable. That either means they are fake or more likely your EHR has a cellular number from a decade ago that no longer works. And nearly a quarter of patients (24%) have no mobile number listed at all. For reference, those hospitals who are “best” at gathering a mobile number obtain mobile numbers for 90%+ of patients. Those in the lowest quartile are <60%. It’s worth knowing where your health system falls.


As part of ERAdvisor, Vital asks patients to confirm their contact details & insurance on record. Of the roughly 1/3rd who responded, 20% indicated incorrect information. For hospitals operating on thin margins, there’s an obvious solution: collect better information from your patients. Whenever a patient indicates inaccurate information below, Vital can send a notification to registration staff to gather more up-to-date information, or swap the primary and secondary insurances shown.

In the ER, up to half of patients who present (possibly unconscious) have no medical history in your EHR. In these cases, identifying a Primary Care Physician (PCP) who may be able to provide some history of present illness is paramount.

Here again, the information in your EHR is likely less accurate than desired. At Vital, 50-60% of all patients with valid mobile phone numbers use Vital. It’s nearly as full a sample “panel” as one could wish for. We asked patients about the accuracy of their PCP. At least 11% said the hospitals information was wrong, and about a quarter had no primary care doctor listed period.

With very few exceptions, and measured across a wide range of hospitals (large urban, suburban, critical access), in all parts of the US, we found patient data to be 10 - 25% incorrect.

What can a health system do? Try a tool like Vital to improve your patient experience, guide patients through their hospital visits, ensure they get follow-up care post discharge, and give them a way to self-identify which data is inaccurate. It’s good for patients, and better data might just be the key to improving the economics of your hospital.