You need all the time you can get to put together a compelling case, but if a lot of that time is being spent on retrieving important documents, then it won’t take long before the costs start piling up and delays become a part of the process. Retrieving medical records has traditionally been one of the most time-consuming steps of all, partly due to compliance processes and a lack of standardization and completeness with many records.
That’s why it’s important to have a clearly defined process for retrieving records, as well as the right people to help. An increasingly popular option is to outsource records retrieval to an external team of experts who can thoroughly review and verify documents before submitting them to your requests. This can save an enormous amount of time when it comes to compiling evidence in cases of things like medical malpractice or disputed insurance claims.
Here are our top tips to help you get started on the right track:
#1. Research providers
There are hundreds of thousands of medical facilities and related entities across the United States, and each one has its own unique process of creating and handling medical records. Although HIPAA legislation makes clear the requirements for securing such assets in accordance with patient privacy, it doesn’t have any influence on the way records are formatted and presented. Because of this, there’s a lack of standardization.
While it’s essential that the team managing requests knows their medical providers, it shouldn’t be your responsibility alone. By outsourcing the process to a reputable and HIPAA-compliant records retrieval service, you can tap into the necessary knowledge and reduce the burden on your internal team.
#2. Obtain authorization
The most important step in the medical records retrieval process is obtaining the necessary permission in accordance with the HIPAA privacy regulations. To do this, you’ll need to obtain signed permission from the plaintiff as soon as possible, before the request can be processed. Unfortunately, HIPAA doesn’t have a clearly defined authorization process, so it can differ substantially from one healthcare provider to the next.
To streamline the process, it’s best to work through a third party that standardizes security and privacy processes and serves as a go-between for law firms and medical providers. This will ensure you get your requests right the first time.
#3. Submit requests
Before you submit your request, you need to know exactly what you’re looking for. After all, it takes a lot more time when you have to submit multiple requests to different healthcare firms. If you’re too broad in your scope, it will take more time to retrieve the information you need, and there’s an increased likelihood of issues that cause delays. On the other hand, being too specific might result in a lack of important insights needed to put a case together.
Since every record and page comes with a cost and, potentially, a delay, it’s best to specify the scope of the request from the outset. If you can take advantage of a straightforward online ordering system, you’ll be able to automate much of the process and know exactly how much you’re spending.
#4. Track statuses
Medical records retrieval has traditionally been a slow and arduous process. Turnaround times vary greatly depending on the type, size, and location of the facility, as well as on the amount of information requested. It usually takes around 30 days to fulfill a record request, but even then, there might be a need to start over in the case of incomplete or illegible information.
You need a convenient way to track and manage the status of every request, preferably using an online portal that you can access from anywhere. This will allow you to follow up whenever any issues occur, or further information or verification is requested on your part.
Records Retrieval Solutions helps law firms across the US reduce the amount of non-billable hours with easy online ordering and tracking. Call us today to get started.