When it comes to controlling the cost of medical records retrieval, specifically for lawyers, there is only one right solution: outsourcing to specialists. Let’s face it – medical record retrieval is expensive and time consuming. Attorney requests for medical records can slow the progress of case preparation, costs can skyrocket, and the medical records attorneys receive can be hard to decipher to extricate the real medical story. It’s easy to get bogged down in the details of subpoenas, key record providers, and HIPAA and HITECH compliance or lose track of where plaintiffs’ records are and which provider needs a follow up call.
To avoid the costly mistakes novices can make with medical record retrieval, many top lawyers working on litigation rely on MRC and our team of record retrieval experts to provide them with the most efficient yet effective strategies for retrieving the vital records that strengthen their case.
So, how do top law firms keep costs contained when requesting medical records? This article will help answer the following questions for attorneys who need to request medical records:
- Why partnering with experts is a timely and cost-effective approach to handle medical record retrieval for lawyers
- How effective budgeting and strategizing at the start of the case can have big savings throughout
- How medical record retrieval for lawyers often includes cost-sharing, which can benefit your firm and assist your legal strategy
- What technologies exist to ease the cost burden for attorneys requesting medical records
Outsourced Medical Record Retrieval for Lawyers
#1: Expenses of Lawsuits Involving Many Plaintiffs
The old saying “there is strength in numbers” has never been more appropriate than for lawsuits involving legal medical matters affecting a large number of plaintiffs. The more plaintiffs involved in a case, the more difficult and costly to defend. Simply put, more plaintiffs means more records and more expense.
Do you have the resources to quickly and efficiently conduct medical record retrieval for lawyers? At such a large scale, a law firm would need specialized software, high-speed scanners, a HIPAA-compliant database that keeps records secure, and much more to be effective at medical record retrieval for lawsuits involving so many plaintiffs.
At the volume most cases need medical record retrieval, the cost of outsourcing medical record retrieval is far less than trying to train and gear up staff to handle this intense project.
#2: Medical Record Retrieval For Lawyers Needs a High-Level of Expertise
To reduce the cost of discovery, attorneys requesting medical records must be practical. Any law firm with a case involving many plaintiffs must assess their staff. Every member of a team has strengths and shortcomings, and good team leaders distribute tasks to those best suited for them. It is essential to assign appropriate tasks to each member and find outsourcing solutions for the remainder. Top law firms allocate this process to MRC, so that their attorneys and staff can put their time to what they are best suited at. MRC is here to fill the gaps.
Record retrieval is more than just getting patient authorization and asking for records. It is more than simply making requests, organizing forms, and tracking responses and recurring requests. Even with a dedicated staff, the ability to effectively retrieve medical records that are pertinent to the case and won’t waste your budget can be a difficult task. Our record retrieval teams are able to place parameters on a search to distinguish the best from the rest and align your record retrieval strategy to the case strategy.
Most importantly, effective record retrieval adheres to strict compliance to laws governing access to protected health information, such as HIPAA and the HITECH Act. These compliance laws are dynamic. They are modified regularly to keep up with the pace of technology. At MRC, our team of medical record and nursing professionals are fully up-to-date and have a deep understanding of the laws that govern how records are retained and released by medical providers. We provide your team with a deep knowledge of record retrieval, so that our clients can keep their focus on their expertise – the litigation.
Starting Your Case Off Right with Effective Budgeting
#1: Get Experts to Help Budget
Many times, medical record retrieval budgets are tight and are mostly based on the number of plaintiffs involved in the case. While the number of plaintiffs is a factor to include in your budget, having a more robust approach to your medical record retrieval budgeting process can save your firm thousands of dollars. You’ll want to think about your medical record retrieval for lawyers early in the process – the earlier the better.
At MRC, our budgeting methods are grounded in over 40 years of experience with mass tort and multidistrict litigation. With hundreds of thousands of medical records retrieved and reviewed by legal nurses, we understand the common mistakes made when budgeting for the retrieval of medical records. There are so many medical providers, with differing fees, requirements, and response times. The medical issues at hand often require ruling out pre-existing conditions, which results in additional requests for medical documentation. Not to mention, if the medical issue of the litigation is ongoing, there will be automatic recurring requests in real time. All of these factors impact the budget.
#2: Define Your Objectives
Before you get started with medical record retrieval, you’ll want to define your objectives and whether you’re going to need help reviewing those records. Is this a case that is trying to prove exposure that is relevant to an injury allegation? You may want to think through what kind of documentation attorneys would need to prove or disprove exposure, whether there are alternative causation explanations, and if a simple early case assessment could save you a lot of cost for both retrieving and reviewing records. In the case of environmental exposure, we typically recommend a phased approach, where we work with your team to establish basic facts before diving deeper into the next phase of documentation and medical record retrieval. This helps us quickly determine when further medical records are required versus getting all available medical records for every plaintiff, no matter their case. Knowing what the end goal is helps our team align your budget with the outcome your team wants.
#3: Know Your Budget Warning Parameters & Authorization Limits
Sure, it’s not great to have your budget go above the expected costs, but by working with an expert partner, we’ll give you the analytics and reporting necessary to make those hard decisions and inform your team when more budget may be required. With our project managers, it’s easy to detail what percentage of budget use should be flagged and our technologies can help the team stay on top of overspending. We can automate the milestones you’d like us to watch out for at the outset of a project, that way you never experience any surprises.
Likewise, you’ll want to set record retrieval authorization limits up front. While most of the medical records retrieved have a constant cost, sometimes, record providers will have a volume or cost that is unexpected. By setting caps on what costs are automatically authorized versus costs that should be manually reviewed with your team, we’ll help ensure that any costs over the expected amount are both viable to the case and authorized by your team.
#4: Engage with Record Retrieval and Medical Record Review Experts Early
Before you’re too deep into the discovery phase, engaging with MRC’s record retrieval and medical record review team can help set expectations for the case that allows the team to avoid a lot of unnecessary cost. We’ll help your team determine:
- The case strength based on our years of medical record litigation experience
- What other discovery actions your team needs to take right now to avoid future costs
- What the opposing counsel is likely to bring up and how best to retrieve and review medical records that will strengthen your counter argument
If you wait too long within your case process and need medical records reviewed in a quick turnaround, you’ll likely be charged a “rush fee” that could have otherwise been avoided. Early engagement is key to avoiding unnecessary costs and maximizing your budget spend.
#5: Choose the Simplest Format for Your Needs
Often, medical record retrieval for lawyers also includes medical record review. While the records provide pertinent information that you need to build your case, they’re often not in a format or using language that is quickly understood by non-medical personnel. Top law firms employ legal nurses to review medical records and distill the most important facts for the law firm, and when working with MRC to get your case set up for medical record review, keep in mind that the simplest form of the report will be the cheapest.
However, in some cases, it can be vital that information is customized and dynamic based on the records and the information contained within them. We understand that many cases are complex, and we can work with your team to ensure that you have the facts needed to defend your case. But, we also advise that a simple format is going to be the best for both teams and definitely the best choice for your budget.
#6: Identify Key Medical Record Providers
Typically, a case will not need a plaintiff’s full medical history, and it’s important to consider what records are going to be worth paying for that will lend valuable information to your case. Before you get too far down the medical record retrieval process, it’s important to define who are your “key providers” for medical records, and if you’re going to include medical record review in your services, ensure that those key medical records are the first ones provided to the legal nurses for review. Ensuring that you’re getting the best information for each plaintiff means that you have the best information to react to at the outset.
#7: Rely on MRC’s Data-Driven Budget Process
Advances in technology have brought more predictable ways to estimate the cost of your medical records retrieval budget. At MRC, we use data analytics to review your case and assess cost, specific to the needs of your unique situation. Managing budgets well has never been more important, and we prioritize our clients’ bottom line. With over 40 years of experience, including hundreds of thousands of medical records, MRC is well-equipped to know exactly what to expect in terms of record retrieval costs.
To request a cost estimate of your specific budget, please use our budget tool here.
Cost-Sharing the Expenses of Medical Records Retrieval
#1: Partner with Medical Records Retrieval Expert Who Support Cost Sharing
Has the court ordered the parties in your case to split the cost of record retrieval expenses? It has become more and more common for courts to order the co-defendants to share costs. Discovery is always an expensive part of preparing a case, especially with mass tort and multidistrict litigation.
While there are many organizations out there who claim to be experts at medical record retrieval, few have the technology available to safely and automatically share medical records and costs between counsels. When you’re looking for a medical record retrieval partner that can help your business contain costs effectively, you’ll want to ensure that the organization you engage has the capability to enable cost sharing before signing any agreements.
#2: Choose Partners with Software that Automates Cost Sharing
Not only should the partner you choose have the capability to share records between counsels, but they should also have an automated way to handle purchases and reimbursements, so that your team is not paying for the extra work involved in manually dividing up costs.
MRC has prepared for this probable and likely outcome by developing MRCRecords®, a secure portal for opposing counsel, which can be used to supply access to opposing counsel when required, and for opposing counsel to purchase copies of records. When this happens, we automatically give your team credit for the purchased records, meaning you pay less and less as the opposing counsel purchases more and more records.
A companion to WiseFiles®, MRCRecords® makes the same information sharable to opposing parties, without revealing any of the information private to our client’s dashboard. Equipped with advanced filtering and searching options, users of MRCRecords® can organize multiple searches with tabbed browsing and tailor medical records purchases with a customizable shopping cart function.
#3: Ensure Cost Sharing Is Built on a Secure Data Platform
When searching for a partner that will help your team contain the costs of record retrieval, you don’t want to forget that there’s also risk associated with each partner. Since the records needed for litigation contains sensitive and personal information, state and federal laws have to be considered and partners should be vetted for their ability to keep all data secure according to mandated standards. If a security breach occurs, your organization could be liable for costly fees and further litigation, which will balloon costs and impact the bottom line.
MRCRecords, WiseFiles, and WisePFS are all highly secure databases, fit for personal information retention, that can help contain your costs by reducing your risk to data breaches. To learn more about how MRC is equipped for cost-sharing, please see our article Why Litigation Cost Sharing is More Important Now Than Ever.
Cost-Saving Medical Record Retrieval and Review Technologies
With over 40 years in the industry, MRC has seen and developed the tools to help digitize the medical record retrieval process. From our flagship tool, WiseFiles, to our tools that are being developed today, MRC has prioritized the legal team’s experience and created tools that lessen the workload and empower the users.
WiseFiles helps a legal team keep track of medical record retrieval and review projects, control their costs through up-to-the-minute reporting, and customize access to records to ensure teams remain HIPAA compliant.
From WiseFiles, we recognized the need to develop a cost-sharing portal that would allow opposing counsel the opportunity to purchase and review records within MRC’s secure database, thereby decreasing costs of our clients. MRCRecords is highly customizable, fast, and a convenient way to reduce costs of record retrieval.
With the new dawn of electronic plaintiff fact sheets, MRC built WisePFS to be a highly flexible and secure tool that captures and vets the initial plaintiffs that apply to a suit. This tool decreases the burden of manually vetting each plaintiff and building a secure database to store all of the information shared with the legal team. WisePFS takes the headache out of the plaintiff fact sheet process and gives increased freedom and transparency into the process that can help inform case strategy and control costs.
For more information on how we can help you control the costs of your litigation, reach out to our team online or by calling (713) 528 – 6326.