iSaaS Technology has launched ‘ePIsource Legal’, a medico-legal solution designed to improve expert witness independence in low value personal injury claims and redress the imbalance within the sector which predisposes evidence to favour the instructing party. The solution uses technology to support the administrative function carried out by medical reporting agencies (MROs), delivering objectivity and transparency by separating the evidence procurement process from the expert analysis.
Part of the remit of the imminent MoJ consultation on whiplash will be to look at options for ensuring the independence of medical experts and the issue of referral fees and commissions. MROs and the experts on their panels are too close to the instructing parties. Current practices for obtaining whiplash medical reports can lead to allegations of biased, poor quality evidence, driven by the fact that medical experts have become reliant on MROs for their livelihood and MROs have a commercial relationship with the instructing party. These interdependencies can impact not only on the selection and training of experts, but also on the time available to the medical expert to produce high quality forensic evidence. This combination significantly impacts the effectiveness of whiplash medical reports.
ePIsource Legal disrupts these established medico-legal practices, addressing concerns raised by the Association of British Insurers and claimant practices, in advance of the MoJ consultation. In order to deliver improved independence, demonstrable transparency, objectivity and higher quality evidence, the management and composition of ePIsource Legal’s medical expert panel will be guided by the Association of Personal Injury Reporting Experts (ASPIREX). ASPIREX is a non-profit independent association, which requires its doctor members to submit to randomised peer review and continuous professional development through the UK’s leading expert witness training organisation, Bond Solon.
Founder of ASPIREX, Dr Rowland Whale says, “ASPIREX was set up to provide a voice for the medical experts committed to the highest standards of medical reporting. Until now the only voice has been that of trade bodies such as AMRO (the Association of Medical Reporting Organisations), which clearly represents MROs, not doctors. Whilst those organisations provide an undoubted contribution, it is right that doctors, who strive to deliver the best possible standards of evidence, are represented in this important debate.”
Alive to the regulatory environment, iSaaS Technology will be playing an active part in the upcoming MOJ consultation on whiplash evidence. iSaaS has worked with regulatory specialists from Weightmans to ensure ePISource Legal is compliant both with the The Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) changes and the SRA Code of Conduct, including the ban on payment or receipt of commissions for medico-legal instructions from April 2013.
Adam Tulk, CEO of iSaaS explains: “MROs continue to perform an important role in administering and improving efficiency in the acquisition of medical evidence. However, the link between the instructing party and the expert panel must be separated from this administrative function. It is not the role of the MRO to be training, peer reviewing or selecting the medical expert panel. Any attempt to do so by MROs, or their trade body, will simply perpetuate the potential for bias because of the obvious commercial interests at play. ePIsource Legal will uniquely separate expert selection or panel membership not only from MROs, or instructing parties using its software, but also from itself. We are aware of no other attempt to directly encourage expert objectivity and independence that goes this far. We would encourage MROs to adopt a similar stance.”