For mass tort attorneys, developing the strongest cases is paramount. However, the effort to review voluminous client medical records to extract and process the best evidence that accurately represents the client’s situation cannot be underestimated. The medical review process not only determines the eligibility based on the firm’s criteria in litigation, but also plays an important role in an eventual settlement. Historically, law firms have the option to staff review teams internally, outsource this work to legal service providers, or to utilize both options. This article reviews the pros and cons of insourcing or outsourcing the medical review process.
Both internal and external review teams have their benefits and shortcomings. Law firms decide which to utilize depending on the specific litigation, where they are in the process, and the preferences of assigned attorneys. The size of the law firm as well as their current staffing and resources also factor into this critical decision.
Internal Document Review
- Improved Resource Management: Opting for an internal document review provides your team with complete control over the process. Choosing when and where to deploy resources based on the needs of your firm is more streamlined than with outsourced counterparts. Attorneys can closely supervise the review and ensure it aligns with the firm’s case strategy and objectives.
- In-House Expertise: Internal teams can leverage the expertise of attorneys familiar with the litigation and better understand the nuances of specific cases. The hands-on approach reduces variability in results and the overall process.
- Better Quality Control: Since internal teams have greater access to litigation-specific expertise in the firm, directly auditing the results of the cases reviewed can be easier, ensuring higher quality than compared with an external provider.
- Resource Intensive: Internal document review requires substantial resources, time, and infrastructure (extra office space, computers, additional security to handle sensitive case information), which may divert attention from other critical tasks.
- Limited Scalability: Handling large-scale document review in-house may be challenging during peak periods, potentially leading to delays or a reduction in service quality.
- Hiring and Training: Building and managing an in-house team entails administrative burdens for talent acquisition and retention, potentially leading to productivity slowdowns.
Outsourcing Document Review
- Time Savings: Outsourcing document review may reduce the time and effort required by the firm to hire additional staff to respond to surges in workload. External providers usually offer cost-effective models that scale with volume.
- Scalability: Service providers can quickly scale up or down resources as needed for timely completion. Assigning existing resources to your projects allows providers to address needs faster than most in-house teams.
- Reduced Administrative Burden: Outsourcing document review eliminates the administrative tasks associated with hiring, training, and managing an internal team.
- Communication Challenges: When case review criteria changes in the lifecycle of a litigation, review teams will need to be quickly trained on those changes. An outsourced team may take longer to adapt since you have to first “train the trainer,” who will then work with the actual reviewers.
- Lower Cost Predictability: Providers often charge by the hour, leading to fluctuating costs if case volumes surge or if litigation criteria changes, making forecasting costs a challenge.
- Limited Quality Control: Without direct access to in-house litigation-specific expertise, law firms will have to rely on the quality reporting they receive from the vendor’s account staff, or take extra steps themselves to ensure high review quality.
Accelerating Case Review with A.I.
Regardless of whether a law firm chooses to insource or outsource its case review process, technology plays an increasingly important role in today’s legal work. A.I.-powered solutions like Pattern Data are modernizing the medical record analysis and review process. By utilizing A.I.-based contextual analysis, modern software can swiftly and accurately extract critical information from medical records, significantly reducing the time and effort required for review. This technology empowers law firms to enhance their case-building capabilities, ensure data accuracy, and expedite the path to favorable settlements.