This is a story that I want to share with you on how we identified and created our Medical Records Review Service for Personal Injury Law Firms. The whole process took us about 4 months.
As this case study shows and given the right opportunity, you can develop a unique service based on an identified and qualified need. It broadly shows the steps that you can take in creating a niche outsourced and customised service.
- IDENTIFYING THE NEED – KEEP YOUR EARS OPEN TO OPPORTUNITIES
A friend of mine who is also a personal injury lawyer was the catalyst in us developing our Medical Records Review service. He told me that when people get injured they normally hire a lawyer so they can sue the insurance company of the other party.
However, every personal injury case involves a huge amount of medical documents. This creates a lot of burden for lawyers. The documents come from different sources like hospitals, clinics, doctors, physios, chiropractors and police reports. For each case, the documents could number between 250 pages to 3,000 pages. The biggest case that we handled for our Medical Records Review service had more than 3,000 pages.
The lawyers for both plaintiffs and defendants have to spend a lot of time going through the documents to fully understand the legal basis of each case, understand the medical condition of the client, the impact on the client, the incurred and future medical cost involved in treating the client and of course the likelihood of success in filing a suit.
Question: Is there a solution that we can provide which will reduce the time lawyers spend in reviewing these documents so they can focus more on finding new clients?
Develop and provide a cost effective Medical Records Review service for personal injury lawyers. The service will review the medical documents and deliver a medical-legal brief which can be used by lawyers for case review, litigation and/or negotiations with the other party.
- MAPPING THE PROCESS
First, we had to map the process. We evaluated what law firms normally did when they process a personal injury case. By “process”, we mean the step by step actions that a law firm takes from the time they receive the case and up to the time that they finish the case. We needed to understand where the blockages were and if we could potentially develop and offer a service that will add real value to a law firm. By “real value”, we mean increased efficiency, productivity and output.
We mapped the process by examining a handful of law firms and how they go about doing their work. Once we have identified where we could add value, we then proceeded to develop the service.
- THE SERVICE
From the medical documents, we created two Medical-Legal Briefs. The first one is a Medical Records Quick Review which is the shorter version. The second one is the Medical Records Review brief which is the fuller and longer version.
The Medical Records Quick Review brief consist of:
- Client Personal Information
- Date of Incident
III. Client Treatment Locations
- Client Statements about the Incident and Injuries
- Course of Treatment at Medical Providers
- Treatment Results
VII. Future Care
Medical Records Quick Review – Client Personal Information (Sample only)
|Name:||Ms. Smith||Age on Date of Injury:||34 years old|
|Date of Birth:||July 27, 1975||Type of Injury:||Lower back pain and bruise|
|Date of Injury:||October 30, 2009||Mechanism of Injury:||Pedestrian related injury secondary to Vehicular accident|
The fuller version is the Medical Records Review Report and consists of the following:
- Overview – provides a short summary of the case.
- Chronology of Events – provides a dateline of the events.
- Provider List – provides a list of medical providers.
- Medication List – provides a list of prescribed medications.
- Plaintiff Statements – provides a list of statements made by the client.
We looked at the prices currently being offered by other similar services such as medical transcription services. We also looked at how much the market can bear for a service like ours based on the potential revenue a law firm can make from each personal injury case.
We eventually decided to price our service based on the number of pages of each case. The more pages we had to process the more we charged. We positioned the entry level price at the lower end to attract potential clients to try our service. We thought that once a client tries our service and appreciates its convenience the more likelihood that they will continue to use our service.
- DEVELOPING THE SERVICE DELIVERY MODEL
The diagram below illustrates the flow of information from the law firm to our company and then back to the law firm with the finished document.
One of the challenges we faced was how to securely transfer large documents from and to our client. These documents are around 250 pages to 3,000 pages long. We also had to make sure that the documents are secure throughout the whole process as these are legal documents.
Initially, we thought that we would be the one to get the raw documents from the client, scan the documents to convert these into electronic form and then return the raw documents to the client. After further thought, we decided that this would be too uneconomical for us to do. It was more prudent if the client sends us the documents already in electronic form.
But we still had to make it as easy as possible for our clients to send the document to us and for us to return the documents back to our clients.
- CHOOSING THE RIGHT TECHNOLOGY TO DELIVER THE SERVICE
After going through a number of different options, we decided to subscribe to a cloud based service which enabled us to securely transmit volumes of documents. The cloud based service allowed us to create password protected accounts for our clients. This allowed our clients to login to a secure server using their own unique password to upload their documents. We download the documents, process these and then return the completed Medical Legal brief back to our clients.
As these are medical documents there are various privacy and confidentiality provisions that we needed to comply with. One of the policies we instituted was to delete any raw medical records on our computers and cloud server after we complete each case.
- DEVELOPING THE TEAM TO DELIVER THE SERVICE
Our clients are law firms. And if you have had the pleasure of working with law firms, they are quite strict about the accuracy and quality of the work that they accept right down to crossing the t’s and the i’s.
This meant that we had to establish a high quality team to achieve consistent high quality output. We recruited staff with sound medical experience, excellent comprehension and writing skills, sound computer skills and where possible, have a basic knowledge of law.
Training our staff in our systems was critical. A major component of our training is working with each staff member on sample cases until they can write a brief with 100% accuracy.
We also put in place a quality system where each work output is reviewed and given a final tick by a senior partner before it is released.
We continued to improve our quality system and recognise that this is an ongoing process.
- QUALITY, QUALITY, QUALITY
From the outset, we knew that we had to be able to deliver quality outputs over and over again. So we designed the system which enabled us to do this.
This is what we did.
- We developed the structure of the medical-legal brief based on what clients
told us. It was structured in such a way so all the main and relevant content were subsumed in a logical progression and the medical briefs can be used for different purposes.
- We chose and used a reliable and secure service to transfer our documents.
This gave our clients the confidence in the service as well as a convenient way to
upload and download large documents.
- We only recruited qualified and quality staff.
- We trained our staff in how we want them to deliver the finished product and
we kept training until this was achieved.
- We equipped our staff with the right computer equipment and software.
- We established a quality checking system to make sure that every finished
brief is checked extensively and thoroughly.
- Every document is delivered based on a uniform structure which we
developed based on the needs of our clients.
Developing a new service is both exciting and challenging.The primary considerations for us were: was there enough demand for such a service and can we deliver a high quality service and make money from it. Once we confirm the answers to these questions, then developing and delivering the service was a matter of systematically going through the development process, trialling the service, delivering the service and then continually improving the service levels to meet our clients’ expectations.