The best medical records retrieval service provider is reliable, consistent, timely, and affordable. The most crucial factor for any medical records retrieval service is ensuring they provide transparent processes, so you can be sure that they are following HIPAA laws or any other requirements in your state. Any law firm that is going to be working with a medical records retrieval company needs to have a relationship built on trust, transparency, and a commitment to a strong partnership. This is because there are often timelines that must be adhered to, and mistakes can end up costing a client their entire case.
Benefits of Outsourcing Medical Records Retrieval
There are many benefits to outsourcing medical records retrieval for better patient care and easier collection of medical information.
Outsourced companies can do the following for you:
- Save you the time and the costs associated with hiring and training staff to retrieve medical records in accordance with the law. The medical records team will follow up on the request to make sure it is pulled out of storage and transferred to you as quickly as possible. Instead of hiring multiple staff members to make this work, you pay one fee to the medical records company to handle this, even if multiple employees have to follow up to get the documents to you.
- Allow you to receive the medical records healthcare providers have outside of your practice more quickly and more effectively. The medical records retrieval team may have the time to push for records faster, so you get them rapidly.
- Help you verify that the medical records come from the right organization and are for the correct patient. Instead of verifying the records yourself and going through the paperwork for the first time on your own, the medical records retrieval company will match the records to what you’re looking for, so you know you have the right patient’s information.
- Take care of the organizing, labeling, or indexing processes that your house staff would otherwise need to do so that you can easily file away the documents or leaf through them for the information you’re looking for.
- Determine what you’re missing and identify any inaccuracies or errors with what you received from a physician. If you are missing documents, the medical records retrieval team will seek them out, so you don’t have to.
- Follow up and ensure urgency to meet deadlines and best assist your clients within decided timelines. If you only have a day to get the paperwork, the medical records retrieval team will take action to get those records as soon as possible. They’ll give you a timeline, so you can seek extensions if and when needed.
By outsourcing medical records retrieval services, you’re going to save yourself time and money. You won’t have to have your in-house staff handle the records on company time, so they can continue to do their jobs instead of spending time on the phone with medical offices, hospitals, or other providers. Outsourcing saves you money since you pay a contracted fee instead of a salary to someone working for a salary. The medical record retrieval teams that attorneys choose may have better connections and know how the system works so well that they can get more done in less time, so you have what you need sooner.
What to Know Before Outsourcing Medical Records Retrieval
Before you outsource medical records retrieval, it’s important for you to make sure you’ll get a good ROI and know that the other business is going to maintain consistent, quality results. On top of that, you need to ensure that the company is HIPAA compliant so that health information is not exposed. Healthcare facilities should be well-trained on how to handle electronic medical records, but it’s still best to go over the medical record retrieval process with the medical practices or any other third-party vendor who will be helping with retrieving the records that you need.
To protect your own business and each staff member who interacts with patient documents, you should get to know the scope of medical records retrieval services. You need to be clear on what the service can and cannot do, the way it will present the documents to you, and any risks that you’re taking on by working with it.
CAMG standard services include:
- Medical Records
- Review and Summaries
- Bates Stamping
- Optical Character Scanning (OCR)
- Creating medical case summaries
- Chronological Sorting
- Digital Media
CAMG also has enhanced services, which are more than just reviewing and sorting your requested documents:
- Populate and finalize requests for attorney using client questionnaire and calls to plaintiff
- if needed
- Form retrieval including HIPAA, Death Certificate, Power of Attorney
- NRF Rebuttals: Follow-up with the client for alternate facility and date of service and Info upon receipt of NRF
- Extended Contact: Continued client follow-up for an added 30 days
- Client Interview re: Questionnaire: This is used to uncover additional info on behalf of an attorney
While you could do many of these things in-house, allowing a team that has been well-trained on these methods is a good way to handle your records request is the best way to get those records as quickly as possible. On top of that, a medical records retrieval team has the ability to thoroughly analyze the documents to be sure they are the right ones and that all the information you’re looking for is present.
Medical Records Retrieval Process
Retrieving medical records can be time-consuming and tedious, but it’s a common part of an attorney’s discovery process. As a result, your team may need to retrieve medical records from the healthcare industry to help your case.
Your clients, past patients who suffered injuries, rely on you getting this information and using it to negotiate with an insurance company or when making a claim for compensation.
Since medical records are often a critical component of personal injury, pharmaceutical mass tort, wrongful death, and other types of cases, the ability to access medical records kept by various health systems across different EHR systems is essential.
Generally, the medical record retrieval process follows these steps:
- First, the patient must fill out the necessary paperwork and sign a HIPAA authorization to release their medical records. The HIPAA authorization allows hospitals, medical clinics, or other facilities to release the patient’s information to an attorney or other professional. Without this paperwork, your firm or organization will not be able to retrieve medical records of any kind. Understand that the HIPAA form may not be the only authorization needed. You may also need special authorizations requested by medical service providers.
- The next step is to contact the relevant health care facilities or offices to determine where the requested medical records are kept and to confirm the paperwork needed to access them. It’s at this point that you should ask which authorization documents are needed. HIPAA forms might be all you need to seek information from healthcare providers, but all medical practices are different. Be sure to ask.
- After this, the person who requested the medical records will have to continue following up with the healthcare organizations to find out when the data will come through. It’s this person’s job to ask that their request be fulfilled as soon as possible, so the records are available for a legal case.
- Finally, the records should be transferred. They may be transferred in one of several ways, such as by delivering copies of records in the mail or sending access codes to the authorized party. Once the records are received, quality control tests are done to ensure that all the information they’ve received is accurate and legible. From there, the information is shared with the appropriate parties in accordance with state regulations.
HIPAA Compliance with Medical Records
HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, has strict standards for the release of medical transcriptions, the storage of medical documents, and medical record reviews. HIPAA’s overall goal is to prevent a patient data breach that may negatively impact a patient or lead to the exposure of their private information.
HIPAA believes that patient privacy and security are of the utmost importance when it comes to handling medical records, and you should as well. The primary concern should be to have the patient’s approval to access those records. Then, there is a second concern of ensuring anyone who has access to patient medical records is trained and follows HIPAA and relevant state laws.
CAMG staff also offers HITECH and HIPAA consulting, so you can be sure that the transfer of medical data will be done in accordance with the law, no matter where you’re located. CAMG has a database of over 90,000 healthcare facilities across the country, which helps streamline the retrieval process. With this access through the Consumer Attorney Record Services, or CARS, it’s possible to order records in accordance with HIPAA immediately.
Questions to Ask a Medical Records Retrieval Company
Before you hire a medical retrieval company, you need to ask the company a few questions. More than ever before, ethics is a matter to be concerned with. Patients want to keep their information private, and it is up to your medical records retrieval team to do this.
What should you ask?
Do They Have Knowledgeable Staff?
The first thing to talk to the medical records retrieval company about is their staff. What sets their staff apart from others? Does this staff have the knowledge needed to retrieve medical documents correctly? You should ask if the company trains its staff or requires a certain level of experience.
For example, at CAMG, the staff is trained to understand HIPAA and other required laws, so that it only accesses the appropriate documents at the right time. CAMG has the CARS program, which is HIPAA compliant and meets the privacy and security standards set by law. The staff also offers HIPAA and HITECH consulting, so you can be sure that the staff understands what they’re doing and is able to adhere to the requirements of the state and federal government.
Decades of experience make a difference. Having good industry relationships with over 90,000 hospitals and healthcare facilities around the country makes it easier to retrieve documents quickly and easily.
What’s the Company’s Capacity for Retrieval?
Another thing to ask is about the company’s retrieval capacity. Not all retrievals can be performed instantaneously, though the CARS program makes that easier.
A company’s capacity will depend on how long it takes to retrieve records and its process for doing so. Remember, getting records can take time. With the right retrieval program, the request could take only a few minutes. The turnaround could take longer, anywhere from two to 10 days in some cases.
Ask the company about its timeline for the retrieval. This is of the utmost importance because the company needs to be able to retrieve, manage, and organize your request by the deadline that you, a court, or a statute sets.
How Much Does It Cost to Retrieve the Documents
Costs are going to vary based on who you work with. Most retrieval services are priced based on their experience and how connected they are within the medical community. Some companies will offer a flat fee schedule—for example, medQuest charges around $40 per record regardless of size. In general, requesting any medical record will cost around $1 a page, but this could be higher or lower depending on the service you’re using and the medical office that you’re in touch with.
Can the Company Answer All of Your Questions?
Finally, before you decide on why you do or don’t want to work with a medical records retrieval company, you should consider if the company is knowledgeable and able to answer all of your questions. Sometimes, companies have specialized departments that handle different requests. Other times, you may have to bounce around to medical billing or to the medical transcription department to get your questions answered.
An excellent medical records retrieval company will be able to answer your questions so that you know what to expect as you wait for the records to arrive. The company should be able to give you a timeline and walk you through the entire process from start to finish.