When the RRS team was preparing for the Consumer Attorneys of California Donald L. Galine Conference at Lake Tahoe, NV last June, we received positive response to our Free Your Staff tag line. Sometimes it took a little explaining, primarily for solo or very small practices. It is our educated opinions that legal staff, even in a solo practice, are often drafted to do things that are less than they expected after achieving an advanced level of education.
Those individuals we refer to as staff are paralegals, associates, office managers, administrative assistants, or even the attorney him/herself in a solo practice. Unfortunately, today the process for medical record retrieval falls into two categories – Do-It-Yourself or outsource to a qualified vendor.
There are several steps in the medical record retrieval process, and the spot in the middle where humans are required, simply replace the higher educated, often higher-paid staff referenced above. Considering that Personal Injury represents a major part of record retrieval (whether as an individual matter or a mass tort, a medical malpractice or a class action suit, without the medical records, the case stalls, the client becomes anxious, and since often these are contingency based billing, no revenue is finding its way to the firm until the matter is settled.
Free Your Staff
These words should provide a thought-provoking consideration of the assets at your disposal and how they are best utilized, especially human assets. On average, it takes a legal member of the staff 3-4 calls to a healthcare provider to find the right person, get the correctly prepared client docs to them (including a signed and dated HIPAA form), and the fee for starting the search process for the records you need. Imagine you’re a new associate. You’ve spent 4 years in college, and another 3 years in law school, and one of your first tasks is to track down not one, but several open matters simply waiting for medical records you have been expecting to be returned. Oh, and when one is returned as “No Record Found”, what do you do next? Honestly, this can be a very demoralizing experience even when no complaint is spoken. Then throw into the mix Electronic Health Records (HER) delivered on a disk, which still needs to be verified.
When you Free Your Staff, there is less risk to being out of compliance with HIPAA guidelines. Avoiding risk to HIPAA compliance is often neglected beyond making sure that the client’s documents are secured.
Here are the nine controls for HIPAA:
Governance: This is firm’s policy for procedures and oversight, review and operation. It’s the rules by which we hold individuals, departments and organizations accountable to HIPAA. Without regulation, you cannot hope to limit data breaches.
Legal holds: Many times, records need to be held or accessible for an extended period of time. The documented records extend beyond the normal timeframes. Therefore, a documented procedure for what to do to archive records with special legal status.
Privacy: In its simplest form, HIPAA is a set of guidelines that define the requirements of privacy and service user protection. Without consistent adherence to documented control there is a significant risk of being out of compliance. Minimizing paper reduces exposure to HIPAA compliance.
Inventory: Where are your files stored? Are you still hanging on to the vestiges of a paper office? Are digital records (EHR) still being printed, then billed by the page, and then uploaded to the cloud back in an EHR format? This is an unnecessary and costly mistake and one new associates get trapped by.
Retention: Storing records in a cloud-based repository, allows you to maintain compliance, and provide the client with a This is the legal requirement for storage, how long you must keep records, how to archive and when to destroy them. The longer you keep records, the greater the breach risk. But records destroyed too early is a litigation risk too.
Disposition: Do-it-yourself medical record retrieval relies on “someone” to decide when it’s time to destroy or archive the records. Even with a documented policy, in practical terms many firms hold on to paper too long. Who decides when to destroy, archive or designate them as invaluable despite the age? As with retention, there are litigation risks with keeping these records too long.
Employees: No matter how big or small, it is imperative to have a system where data resides not on firm premises, but in a secure, US-based backup system accessible only by authorized employees via an encrypted login and password.
Training: Do-It-Yourself requesting and following up on medical records typically requires staff training on how to contact the records department of the healthcare provider, realizing that they are often bombarded with requests, and someone unknown to them get treated as a stranger regardless of the importance of the matter.
Want to know more about HIPAA? Here's a link to the Health and Human Services PDF:HHS Privacy Summary PDF
Record Retrieval Solutions resolves these issues by handling the medical records requests promptly, and at a far more affordable cost than using your staff to chase down records, and then trying to decide what to do once they received them. Record Retrieval Solutions (RRS) has been doing this work for more than 25 years, and have personal contacts within the major healthcare providers to expedite the process, save money, improve morale, enjoy higher customer satisfaction, and most of all, close the matter so the firm gets the fees due.
Chuck Dart, President of RRS, is happy to share his experience with you on an additional no-charge call to determine the best course of action for your firm. Contact Chuck @ [email protected] or 866-211-7866.
FREE YOUR STAFF.
Visit us at recordrs.pi.bypronto.com/2