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After a landmark Supreme Court decision to uphold most of the tenets outlined in the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (more commonly known as “Obamacare”), sweeping regulations will start to take form as early as 2013 for hospitals, private practices, insurance companies and small business owners alike (assuming the House’s motion to repeal the bill is denied). Here at DataFile, we offer a different perspective on what this will really mean for you – beyond the media hype and political hubbub.

Although there are many pieces of the healthcare puzzle that will be affected by the bill, one thing to keep in mind is the massive influx of patient records requests that will likely start pouring in as soon as next year. People who hadn’t considered getting insured will now be starting to weigh their options as they look for a payer – which means an exponential increase in medical records requests as most people may be appealing to three or more insurance companies at a time.

With this sudden spike in the number of medical records needing to be released, there comes a potential burden: analyzing the costs associated with processing all of these records requests and determining who bears the burden of these costs. DataFile published a blog post a few months ago on the responsibility of patient vs. payer to pay for these records; what it really boils down to is there ARE no hard and fast rules. It’s not specifically outlined in the bill, and there’s not a way to legally demand payment from one party or the other. However, know that it’s within your rights to refuse to release records without receiving payment from somebody. Your patients might not be thrilled with the idea of spending $40 or so per records request, but many don’t understand the costs associated with these processes behind the scenes. Let them know they are completely entitled to ask the insurance company requesting these records to pay for them. Furthermore, as our blog referenced above clearly states, we believe it’s more applicable for the insurance company to be held accountable for the cost, since it should be considered a cost of doing business for them.  Let them decide if they want to collect this cost from your patient.  Of course, if you’re willing to shoulder those fees for your patients, that’s completely OK as well. But it’s best to start figuring out the best course of action for your practice now, before the flood of new requests starts beating on your door.

If you hadn’t considered outsourcing your medical records processing, now is the time to get serious about your strategy. The electronic release of information (eROI) service from DataFile drastically cuts down the time your staff spends on medical records requests, with little to no cost for you since we typically bill the requestor. And even if you get a sudden influx of requests as Obamacare starts to kick in, our easy set up and quick implementation will get your practice up and running in a matter of days. Don’t let your practice get bogged down by medical records requests – start outsourcing now so you’ll be ready for the rush.

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