Medical Record Retrieval Guide for Law Firms

Medical Record Retrieval Guide for Law Firms

Your legal team works tirelessly to gain the advantage in your legal battles — creating a stressful and time-sensitive environment. Day in and day out, law firms are constantly moving toward achieving their goals for the practice and the clients. On top of all this — medical documentation plays a crucial role.

Law firms around the country rely on medical record retrieval for their cases. This retrieval process isn’t always as simple as it seems and requires immense attention to detail, continuous follow-ups, and, most importantly — time. These are some of the many reasons why law firms around the country choose to outsource their medical record retrieval process.

Time and money are the most important commodity for law firms — which is why struggling with medical record retrieval can be so detrimental to achieving success. Accurate, fast, and reliable medical record retrieval may be the most significant concern for legal teams — but so is cost. To fully optimize the process and get the most out of your retrieval system — it’s oftentimes beneficial to seek outsourcing options from dedicated services that specialize in medical record retrieval for law firms.

In this article, we’ll be covering some of the key factors that attorneys and legal teams should understand when it comes to medical record retrieval in the legal field. We’ll go over:

  • Outsourcing benefits for medical record retrieval
  • Tips lawyers can take advantage of for medical record retrieval
  • Which medical records you’ll need for a personal injury case

How Medical Record Retrieval Services Benefit Law Firms

A dedicated medical record retrieval service can play an integral role in your law firm’s success and cost-effectiveness. We’ve seen countless law firms evolve as they’ve handed off their retrieval processes to a more experienced and better suited to handle service. So, what are the advantages of outsourcing your medical record retrieval?

Lightning Fast Medical Record Retrieval

Time is by far the most valuable asset for law firms, and the time-consuming nature of medical record retrieval means that it’s a massive cost to take on in-house. Complicated casework, consultations, trials — the list of responsibilities for both attorneys and paralegals is insurmountable. There’s simply no time to wait around for medical records that are crucial to the firm’s success.

A designated medical record retrieval service can quicken up the process due to their vast understanding and experience of the retrieval process. However, that’s not even the most significant impactor. Medical record retrieval partners establish vast and personal relationships with providers and medical record custodians, which makes follow-ups and tracking orders a breeze. You know the saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Well, outsourcing your medical record retrieval means that they’ll take care of being that squeaky wheel, exhausting every avenue of communication until your order is fulfilled.

Another contributor to the time issue with medical record retrieval is errors. A specialized service understands the components of a medical record, along with how to accurately order only the pertinent information to speed up the process. Ordering multiple medical records is a recipe for mistakes, which can waste time and cost you money in the long run.

Refocus Paralegals

Your paralegals have enough to worry about — and adding tedious, and detail-oriented medical record retrieval to their job description isn’t doing them any favors. Outsourcing your retrieval process frees up your staff’s time and gives you access to digital tools like HIPAA compliant portals for easy collaboration. Plus, it saves money.

Not only will you reduce the number of hours your staff designates to medical record retrieval, but you’re also able to bill the retrieval cost back to your case file.

Improved Security

It’s no secret that medical documentation requires strict HIPAA compliance. The shift to electronic medical records has created the need for a whole ecosystem of protective systems, and medical record retrieval services have these in droves. Plus, they’ll be keeping up-to-date on any new trends, guidelines, or compliance standards that may affect how your legal practice deals with protected health information.

Many of these services will have a digital portal or system that assists with the order, tracking, and reception aspects of the medical records. These portals will be equipped with security systems and encryption technology to keep information safe.

Tips and Tricks for Law Firms Retrieving Medical Records

Ok, so perhaps you’re managing your medical records in-house, having paralegals handle the process, or you already have an outsourced partner. The question is, how can you get the most out of the process? Here are some tips for lawyers regarding medical record retrieval.

Getting Proper Authorization

You’ll need to seek patient permission to request medical documentation. It can be a headache, but it’s an essential part of the process. Sometimes, more than one authorization is necessary for a proper request — which can be even more time-consuming. It’s not uncommon for each provider to have its own regulatory practices that must be abided by.

So, the very first step is to get the proper authorizations to avoid issues down the road.

Be Mindful of Your Wording

A medical record retrieval request is extremely impacted by the wording you use. Every request has a goal, which means that you’ll need to know what you’re looking for — and how to ask for it successfully.

It’s a bit of a “sweet spot” situation. If your request is too broad, it may end up taking longer to receive because you’ll receive far too much information. So, be mindful of what you need. This means knowing the exact date and additional information that can narrow the scope of your request.

Tracking Your Order

Most medical record requests take roughly 30 days to fulfill. However, there are a ton of factors that could affect this number, and knowing how to track properly, and follow-up on your order is an essential part of successful medical record retrieval.

The biggest contributor to adding days to your order is human error. Anything from missing payments to incomplete documentation can lead to stoppages or issues with the process. Follow-ups are another way to keep the ball rolling. Keeping a close eye on medical record orders from start to finish is the best course of action for tracking orders effectively.

Create a Network of Providers

As mentioned, providers and record custodians vary in how they deal with and manage medical documentation. It’s important to get to know and create a sustainable relationship with the providers you work with — or plan to work with in the future.

This network not only improves your knowledge of how their process works but also establishes a partnership that can go a long way when it comes to follow ups.

What Should Personal Injury Attorneys Look For?

Personal injury attorneys deal with medical records quite frequently. These legal teams need to know what they’re looking for and how to navigate the complicated environment that is protected health information.

When dealing with personal injury and medical record retrieval, there are some pieces of information that are crucial to a successful case.

  • Incident reports
  • Photo, video, audio documentation
  • Medical records

So, what medical records will you need? Well, that may depend on what type of injury or case. That being said, here are some of the more common pieces of medical documentation that will play an integral role in a personal injury case.

  1. Initial exam information
  2. Checkups
  3. Diagnostic tests
  4. Medical procedures
  5. Doctor’s written notes
  6. Prognosis information
  7. Prescriptions (both long and short term)
  8. Pre-existing conditions
  9. Medical-related expenses

Note: Additional materials such as insurance documentation, communication with the insurance company, W-2 forms (to establish loss of income), and any other expenses on behalf of the injured party as a result of the incident should also be collected.

Finding the Right Medical Record Retrieval Partner

Navigating the medical record retrieval landscape as a law firm can be tricky, but there are always ways to improve the process. The best way to get the most out of your medical record retrieval is to partner with a designated service that specializes in retrieval for law firms. Not only are these companies equipped for the job, but they’ll also save you money down the line.

You’d be shocked to uncover how much time and energy your paralegals spend on these tasks, distracting them from core competencies. On the other hand, hiring an in-house team is a massive expense. The best possible solution is to partner up with an experienced and reliable medical record retrieval service for a more efficient and affordable system.