2016 has been certainly a year for surprises. Whether the topic is baseball or politics, it clearly was full of unanticipated results (well, perhaps for a few with clear crystal balls). Here’s a list of 7 issues and proposed fixes that can keep 2016 in its place, and get you and your firm ready for 2017.
- Pending Medical Records – the most common issue PI attorneys requiring fixes is waiting for medical records on behalf of their client. This usually is tied directly to the expected results of financial award of the case. This is not to imply PI attorneys are only in it for the money, but because the more complex cases which might be Mass Torts or Class Actions, tend to put the smaller cases on the back burner.
The Fixes: Have a member of the staff create a spreadsheet with a list of the open cases for which medical records and other related documentation remain incomplete. It might be as simple as asking for an official “No Records Found” release from the healthcare provider.
- Pro Bono Cases – Pro Bono Cases, especially in states like California have decided that tracking and reviewing medical records by the firm’s staff is not considered a passable expense. Therefore, using your own resources (who could be doing billable work instead) is a waste of time and money.
The Fixes: Outsource the requests, collection and management of Pro Bono records to enable them to be considered passable, regardless of the outcome of the case.
- Overloaded Workers – Whether they are junior attorneys, new associates, paralegals or other office staff, December is notorious for trying to squeeze in every bit of revenue by doing billable work.
The Fixes: Once again, outsourcing the handling of medical records does not require in-house firm staff in order to be in compliance with HIPAA laws. Outsourcing may not be something you can see doing all year long. December, with national holidays and personal time off depleting your resources, gives you an extra set of hands to follow up on medical records, and collecting “No Record Found” documents.
- Expense Management – If your anticipated expense to revenue is off track, you still have almost a month to help make a difference.
The Fixes: If you are outsourcing medical record retrieval, you may want to inspect if they are receiving medical records in Electronic Health Record (EHR) format, and still charging a per page price. This is not to suggest an intended impropriety, but merely the practice of charging for per page records since before EHR existed. A simple inspection shouldn’t take long, and may surprise both you and your provider.
- Security – Let’s say you are using an Outsourced Record Retrieval provider. In theory, they should be collecting those records you’ve requested and hosting them on a cloud based server with strong encryption. But where are those servers?
The Fixes: To reduce expense, some outsource record retrievers are using servers which are located off-shore. In the event of a man-made or natural disaster, those servers may not be available for some period of time, and when they are, it may be at the discretion of the host country. The best choice is to ensure that both primary and back-up servers are housed in the USA.
- Extra Fees - Inspect those extra fees for medical record retrieval. Often a client’s records require extra steps that are usually outside the scope of contracted services by a record retrieval service. These can include Bates stamping, Original Certificate of No Records Found, Affidavit/Custodian of Record, conversion to Optical Character Recognition to permit searchable texting
The Fixes: If any of these (or other) requested services are billable, that in and of itself is not wrong. But the fees for these services should be relatively low, and a quick call to another outsourcing medical record retrieval service should give you peace of mind.
- Rebilling – Sometimes the communication between the firm and the provider may be disconnected or misunderstood. The onus is on the outsourced provider to ensure that the records being requested are the records being delivered. Therefore, when a disconnect exists between what the provider delivered and the client expected, there should be no additional fees to re-request the records as instructed by the attorney or staff.
The Fixes: This is an easy one. Simply put, the customer (law firm) should not be penalized for misunderstandings. If the firm is disappointed, it’s up to the outsourced record retriever to correct the error(s) and make sure that there are no missed expectations.
Record Retrieval Solutions (RRS) has been providing our clients with the very best in requesting, collecting, managing those requests, and delivering them via a bank-grade encrypted cloud repository with backups always based in the US. We recently announced our industry leading “Fair Pricing” model which you can read on our website here. Chuck Dart leads RRS, and can be reached at [email protected] or 866-211-7866. Chuck welcomes all inquiries regarding medical record retrieval, and is often sought out for his views on the trends and directions in the industry. For a free, updated copy of the updated report on Medical Record Retrieval Best Practices, simply complete the Registration Request form on the left. We also use this to send periodic newsletters and items of interest in our industry. You can withdraw at anytime with one single button, and we will never sell or share your information with anyone for any reason.
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