Expert Spotlight: Kristi Baird Discusses Medicolegal Industry and how new Technology Changes the Record Review Process
Kristi Baird has over 15 years of experience in the Independent Medical Evaluation (IME) and Medicolegal industries.
Kristi Baird has over 15 years of experience in the Independent Medical Evaluation (IME) and Medicolegal industries. Before Kristi launched Axis Administrative Services, she worked for a large, national IME vendor. She also started and managed a business providing services to medical consultants and was a Co-Founder and President of Northwest Medical Experts, Inc., a first in kind vendor providing specialized IME services exclusively to the medicolegal community. Kristi has a passion for the medicolegal industry and strives to use her knowledge and experience to improve processes and make changes that will ultimately bring costs down and the service level up for all parties involved in the claimant process.
Thanks for doing this interview, Kristi! Let our readers know - what exactly is the medicolegal industry?
The medicolegal industry is a unique niche that if you are not directly involved with or work in, you won’t even know it exists. I find the industry fascinating. I would best define medicolegal as an industry where the medical and legal professions come together with the goal of settling disputes where there is a question of medical validity or negligence.
How did you start a career in medicolegal?
I started my career by answering an ad for an Office Coordinator position in the local newspaper of my hometown in Washington State. The company who placed the ad coordinated independent medical examinations for workers’ compensation, personal injury, and legal claims. I opened the branch and was one of only two staff members so I was trained on the entire process from scheduling through to the report delivery and billing.
How did you start your own boutique provider of specialized administrative and practice management support services?
I moved from the small branch office to the regional office in Spokane, Washington State. During the work day, I would hear the physician consultants in their lounge as they were dictating current reports, reviewing records of upcoming legal and insurance cases, and receiving and returning phone calls for various other requests. Most of the consultants were semi-retired or retired medical professionals and I couldn’t believe that they were trying to handle this type of full-time practice work on their own without support. It took about two years for me to develop the business plan and in July of 2003, I sent out my first marketing material that offered specialized administrative services to Independent Medical Evaluators.
What is the difference between your firm and a typical third-party IME vendor?
The fundamental difference between a third-party vendor and Axis Administrative Services is that IME vendors tailor their services to fit the needs of their company and the needs of their clients, which are specifically the insurance carriers and law firms. By contrast, Axis Administrative Services is tailored to the Independent Medical Evaluator and their practice.
Our services allow our clients to diversify their practice portfolio and provide services directly to legal and claims professionals. The Medical Evaluator maintains control over their work product, the service level provided, and the cost when working alongside us.
What are some challenges you noticed in medicolegal that made you pursue this field and open your own practice?
The challenges I saw in the medicolegal space were two-fold:
- The medicolegal expert is not receiving the appropriate support they need from the IME vendors. The experts often do not have their own support staff that are properly trained in these types of referrals.
- The legal community was not receiving the appropriate level of service required for coordination of medicolegal cases. I found it unjust that vendors were charging three to five times more for a legal report yet the services are coordinated in the same way and the report produced was no different compared to the state-funded workers compensation claims. The Independent Medical Evaluators only receive approximately one-third to one half of the total invoiced amount.
What about claims specifically is in need of change and advancement?
How medical records are handled and tracked needs to be addressed as it pertains to claims and record reviews. There is a high amount of duplicative, unnecessary records, as well as disorganized or incomplete files which drive up the cost of IME services.
Claims need to understand the services that the vendors are providing and hold the IME firms accountable for not using the most cost-effective means of providing their services, as these costs ultimately impact the insurance carriers and their claimants.
As a provider of services to medicolegal and independent medical evaluators, the records product that Axis receives on behalf of my clients from the IME vendors look the same as the files I used to provide to them over 20 years ago when I first started in the industry. There are now better and more efficient as well as cost effective means of producing medical record reviews today.
What do claimants not know about their process?
A misunderstanding claimants have in the medical record review process is that the record review is not meant to be adversarial. The Independent Medical Evaluator is there as an impartial third party to provide their opinion in a report format. They use the complete medical file presented to them, the answers provided by the claimant both on the intake paperwork and in the interview, as well as the physical examination results to give an unbiased medical opinion.
Why is Wisedocs a platform you wanted to offer to your clients?
Wisedocs has created a robust, well-trained, Artificial Intelligence (AI) review for the records. Beyond that, Wisedocs has a user interface that allows vendors and firms like ours to code, describe, group, and move documents around to provide the ultimate record file that fits our client’s needs. Wisedocs cuts down on our time and the cost of the organization of medical records as well as the time and cost of our IME clients to review them.
What changes is your firm making today to provide new services and offerings in this space?
We are launching a new company, Axis Medical Legal Services (AMLS) whose focus is on the preparation and organization of the record files - leveraging the latest technology. In partnering with Wisedocs, we have been able to implement processes for records files within the Wisedocs platform to provide our clients with the best medical record product we have seen to date. Wisedocs not only cuts cost at the file review or examination level, but also in the preparation for depositions and trial testimony.
Axis Medical Legal Services will be offering these records services not only to Independent Medical Evaluators and experts, but also to legal and claims professionals as well as IME vendors.
Kristi Baird Discusses Medicolegal Industry and how new Technology Changes the Record Review Process
We appreciate your time, Kristi! We can’t wait to share and hear more about Axis Medical Legal Services and how new advancements in this field can have a significant impact. If you’re an industry expert in the insurance, medical, or legal space as it pertains to records reviews, please let us know. We’d love to feature you and your expertise on our blog.
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