Top 3 challenges lawyers face when handling medical records

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Retrieving medical records when putting together a case has always been a laborious task, with requests typically taking up to a month to complete. It can get costly too, not just because you usually have to pay for each record, but also because it can take multiple working hours to prepare and submit requests, as well as track progress. Larger law firms often have to hire extra staff to order and track down multiple records.

Fortunately, most of the challenges with medical records retrieval can be addressed easily by outsourcing to a HIPAA-compliant provider. It’s now possible to do everything online, cutting down delivery times and ensuring information security and privacy throughout the process. If you’re starting to feel the burden on operational costs and human resources, then you’ll need to overcome the biggest challenges with managing medical records.

#1. Lack of standardization

Although HIPAA legislation standardizes some of the security and privacy processes needed to safeguard medical records, it doesn’t have any influence over how the records themselves are formatted and presented. Because of this, there’s no uniformity between medical facilities and providers. Many older records are even handwritten, which presents additional challenges like key information being illegible. This can potentially lead to serious mistakes as attorneys try to determine who wrote what and put together the events that occurred during a patient’s care.

There are many ways to overcome this challenge, or at least make it easier. For example, you can hire a third party to provide a transcript of handwritten records and verify them for their completeness. Your medical records retrieval company should also be able to provide older handwritten records scanned in using high-quality digital formats, which will allow you to zoom in to make the writing clearer. Professionals in records retrieval are also highly experienced in identifying patterns in information across multiple providers and reviewing them in the capacity of expert witnesses.

#2. Incomplete information

If you don’t have an established methodology for requesting medical records, chances are you will end up receiving documents with incomplete or illegible information. It can take many long hours for your internal team to detect any discrepancies, which in turn greatly increases the amount of time and money it takes to put together a case. For example, a medical provider might send over a certified copy of a medical record, but then you realize it’s missing crucial notes or information, or certain elements are blurred for privacy reasons. The copy should be identical to the original, but you shouldn’t have to be the one to chase it down.

Outsourcing records retrieval to a dependable service provider will ensure you receive a complete record. Any legal professional specializing in healthcare should be able to recognize what’s missing on a given record, and they’ll let you know immediately if any issues are found. They’ll then follow up with the provider on your behalf without charging any additional costs.

#3. Limited insights

Whether it’s down to a lack of standardization or incomplete information, medical records don’t often provide the insights attorneys need to put together a case. Even if the records are legible, it doesn’t necessarily mean they provide any useful information. It doesn’t help that healthcare providers often use multiple systems and processes to enter patient information, which may result in a loss of narrative insights needed to understand events.

While you’ll likely never receive a record in a perfect state, outsourcing to a professional firm should make things a lot easier. You’ll have access to support whenever you need it and, in doing so, rid your firm of the many non-billable hours required to retrieve and manage health records. The records will also be extensively vetted and properly organized before approved and submitted to your request.

Record Retrieval Solutions provides easy online ordering, consistent updates, and an average of 12 days per delivery. Call us today to enjoy unparalleled retrieval services!

About The Author

img Chuck Dart
Chuck Dart started in the record retrieval business three decades ago. As the industry evolved from analog to digital, he recognized an opportunity to create a single, simple online solution that standardizes the record request and retrieval process across the entire healthcare industry.