Personal injury law firms and specifically mass tort departments increasingly find themselves working with virtual companies and/or adding a virtual component to their practice. This allows staff to focus on other aspects of their case load and other operational functions. Medical records are essential for personal injury cases, and a timely and smooth process is important to ensure proper discovery. Thus, outsourcing medical records management adds a professional process to personal injury law firms.
Outsourced Medical Records Management-How can a virtual team help?
Client Questionnaires – In most cases, the Discovery process starts with clients completing a client questionnaire. The tasks of contacting clients and completing the questionnaire via the telephone can be outsourced to a virtual team. This will include calling the client to uncover key medical elements such as doctor’s information including dates of visits, surgery dates, and/or relevant drug use. This will allow the legal assistants within the law firm time to focus on other tasks and will save the firm time and money in the early stages of the case.
Medical Records Retrieval – After the medical and provider information has been collected and a HIPAA Authorization Form has been obtained by the client, the medical records retrieval process can commence. This process includes the requestor submitting requests with the HIPAA form to Healthcare Organizations including Release of Information, Health Information Management, and Medical Records Departments. The method of retrieval will depend on the department or organizations’ processes and policies. In some cases, the request can be faxed and in other cases the requests must be sent with an original signature. Outsourcing the retrieval process can be a win for most law firms because the process can be time consuming and is an important part of winning cases.
Follow up calls to alleviate backlog – A big part of medical records retrieval and management is the outbound call process. Several follow up calls must be made. This is another key area in which outsourcing will help alleviate backlogs among the law firm’s legal and administrative staff. This process is twofold:
1. Making follow up calls to requestees to first ensure receipt of the request and to stay on top of the workflow and estimated time of arrival of the records. In some cases, this may mean 2-10 calls per month.
2. Secondly, the follow call ensures or uncovers any missing information or the need to resubmit records. In many cases, the health organizations and records departments subcontract the records process to a copying service and/or online health portal companies and calls must be made to these companies as well. This arduous task can easily be outsourced to assist the firm.
Eliminating Overwhelm – Working with a virtual support person or team can change morale for the better in law firms. If your legal assistant staff is overwhelmed, outsourcing some of their tasks can help alleviate their workload and cut down on staff overwhelm. This includes the medical records retrieval process in both whole or in part. In the end, this will assist with turnover and create a sustainable firm.
Adding a virtual component to your law firm’s strategy is a great way to position your firm for growth and an added competitive advantage. The conversation should start with your team. Talk to your case managers and legal assistants. Discuss the benefits of outsourcing the medical records process with them.