Premex Services Managing Director Donald Fowler received a warm response from delegates at the Personal Injury Claims Fraud Conference. In this issue PremExtra recaps some of his key messages about the role of medical evidence now and in the future.
Premex has been extremely active over recent months and years in the process of personal injury reform, providing information, data and evidence to inquiries, committees and government departments. At last month's MASS Fraud conference in Manchester, Donald Fowler, managing director at Premex Services took the opportunity to speak with industry professionals about the continued importance of medical evidence in fighting against fraud, offering clear explanations and suggestions for areas of potential reform for the benefit of all concerned.
"I was delighted to be invited to speak at the conference because we all know that the behaviour and opinions of small pockets of rogue experts and organisations are being used to suggest that the current medical evidence process is fundamentally flawed, when in fact that is far from the truth" says Donald. "Medical examinations are vital to the personal injury process as they represent one of the only times at which claimants are dealt with face to face. Further, the face to face examination plays an exceedingly important role in the fight against fraud as it is a simple fact that is it harder for someone intent on fraud to mislead someone (a Doctor) face to face, than on paper or even over the telephone."
Donald highlighted a number of suggested areas of reform which, for a variety of reasons, are unlikely to work but also highlighted a number of clear areas of evolutionary reform that, together, could result in a cultural shift in the behaviour and thought process of claimants, Doctors and MROs alike. "I was very keen to emphasise that there are a number of areas around the current medical evidence process that could be reformed with relative ease for the benefit of all stakeholders. Accreditation of Doctors and MROs, examination of connected party relationships and arrangements between Doctors and their instructing parties, and the introduction of sanctions for experts and organisations that fall short will all ensure we have a more robust process and give confidence in the system. There is no need for the industry to start again from scratch."
By way of example, Donald pointed to the incorrect perception amongst critics that doctors, in general, provide extended prognoses for minor injuries in the majority of cases. "As the largest independent provider of medical evidence in the UK, our data completely contradicts this with only 6% of whiplash type cases having prognosis periods of more than 12 months."
Having already introduced the Certificate of Medical Reporting (CertMR), and with a majority of GP reports now being produced by CertMR accredited Doctors, Donald explained that medical agencies are already demonstrating their value to the market as providers of enhanced accreditation and training for experts.
"Without doubt, professional medical evidence is the most relevant and appropriate tool to provide an independent assessment of claimant personal injury. At Premex we are glad to be playing a key role in maintaining a quality service and producing high quality, independent evidence and we're looking forward to helping the industry shape and accommodate this next evolution."