As a lawyer, partner, or paralegal — time is everything. For cases that require medical record retrieval, fast turnaround can be the deciding factor. While the HITECH Act creates an established timeframe in which medical records must be delivered, there’s plenty of ways law firms can speed up the process.
The truth is that medical record retrieval for law firms requires both experience and expertise. It’s a delicate process that involves protected health information, complex retrieval processes, and pinpoint precision.
While many law firms decide to manage their medical record retrieval needs in-house — outsourcing has proven to be faster and more reliable for many of the nation’s top legal practices. Even still, there’s plenty that legal teams can do to improve their turnaround time with medical records.
Get Familiar With Medical Records
Familiarity with medical documentation provides a solid foundation for retrieval. Getting to know what’s inside these documents and where to look will give you a solid head start.
Every medical record is different. There’s not necessarily a template or universal “medical record” out there — so it’s about getting to know the overall landscape to make requesting records easier.
Have a clear understanding of what information you need for your case. The records you’ll need for a medical malpractice client may differ from a personal injury case. Nearly every medical record will encompass the following:
- Identification information
- Medical history
- Medication history
- Family medical history
- Medical directives
- Treatment history
If you’re looking to get a better view of what’s inside of a medical record, take a look at this helpful article.
Make Sure You Have the Right Location
Even if you have all the proper details and request information, it can fall flat if you submit the form to the wrong location. This is not uncommon, as many providers have multiple locations. Large or enterprise-level healthcare providers may even have several hubs, specialist sites, or third-party record custodians.
Nothing slows down a case like submitting a record request, waiting for the full approval period, and then finding out you sent it to the wrong location. To save yourself a headache, call in advance and make certain that you’re submitting a medical record retrieval request to the right place.
Double (Or Triple) Check Your Request
Medical record retrieval is a detail-oriented endeavor. Paralegals are often swamped or busy with core competencies for the firm, which can lead to some unfortunate errors during the retrieval process. These are sensitive documents with rigid guidelines regarding retrieval. HIPAA does not take chances, which means neither can you. The most rudimentary error like the wrong date or misspellings can lead to denials.
Even worse is filling out a request for the wrong information. You may wait weeks to receive medical records only to find out the data provided isn’t what you’re looking for — and you’re back to square one.
Establish Relationships With Providers
Perhaps the best tip we can give to improve your law firm’s medical record retrieval turnaround is to establish relationships with providers. This is two-fold:
- You’ll have a better understanding of various processes, fee requirements, authorization practices, etc.
- Speedy medical record retrieval requires continuous follow-ups, and these relationships will help move the needle.
These relationships are why so many law firms choose to outsource their medical record retrieval needs. Dedicated record retrieval companies have spent years cultivating information regarding various processes and building connections with record custodians to create more efficient record retrieval.
Proper Authorization Is Key
Every provider will require a HIPAA-compliant authorization of release. This information must be signed by the individual or their legal power of attorney. Obtain this information as quickly as possible. The last issue you’ll want to deal with is scrambling to get authorization for information late in the case.
With that said, HIPAA release forms aren’t the only authorizations needed for medical records. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of special authorizations in circulation today. Each medical provider may have its own requirements when it comes to authorizations.
Take the time to gain the full scope of what’s needed to release medical records right away. Certain authorizations may take longer — and you’ll want to be prepared.
Create a Streamlined Process
Mitigating errors during retrieval submission is one thing, but there are countless ways that medical record retrieval can go south.
- Human error during submission
- Incomplete or incorrect documentation
- No tracking or follow-up
- Missing payments
- Poor management
A simple prevention method is to create a streamlined process from start to finish (and have someone manage it).
Outsource Your Medical Record Retrieval
The absolute best way to improve turnaround time is outsourcing. Your firm is constantly juggling new clients, existing cases, and extreme workloads. Taking medical record retrieval off your team’s plate will help them focus on what’s needed for your firm to thrive.
On top of that, outsourcing your medical record retrieval needs comes with everything we’ve covered thus far in this article. A trusted medical record retrieval company offers:
- Unmatched familiarity with all types of medical records
- Established relationships with countless providers and record custodians
- In-depth understanding of proper authorization practices
- Constant follow-ups to keep the process moving
- Error-free requests for on-time (or early) delivery
Speed Up Your Firm’s Record Retrieval Today
Hopefully, these retrieval tips for lawyers will help you boost turnaround time and improve workflow. American Retrieval is the #1 medical record retrieval company for law firms. We work with legal practices around the country to speed up record retrieval and free up your team to focus on core competencies.
Get the peace of mind you deserve by working with a trusted medical record retrieval company that specializes in the legal field. You’ll be in good hands as our team manages your medical record retrieval needs with unrivaled experience and state-of-the-art technology.