A not-for-profit association is to launch a new service next month for claimants wanting to instruct medical experts directly via MedCo.
Dr David Pearce, medical director of the Association of Direct Medical Experts (ADME), said D2Expert would provide a centralised outsourced administration for experts directly registered with MedCo.
“If you really want an efficient system and better-quality reports because more money is going to the expert and not in commissions, then this is the best way to get it,” he said.
Dr Pearce said ADME aimed to enable medical experts to keep 75% of their fees – rather than the 25% they often ended up with.
He said that following a “soft launch” with experts last week, 140 had already signed up for the scheme, of around 500 registered directly with MedCo.
“We’ve reached critical mass already,” Dr Pearce said. “I’ve been inundated with e-mails, and, based on the expressions of interest we’ve got, we will soon have more than half of directly registered experts.”
He stressed that MedCo would still be responsible for randomising experts.
“Our emphasis is that MedCo does the randomisation and we get involved in the subsequent administration as a virtual secretarial service,” he said.
“This can in no way affect or undermine the principles of the MedCo randomisation model, as that is completely under the control of MedCo, and the expert is selected prior to our administration team ever seeing the case.”
He said two MedCo board members, medical experts Dr Jan Wise and Chris Worsfold, had agreed to be non-executive board members of ADME.
“Experts are despondent that, despite the arrival of MedCo, not a great deal has changed. All they’ve seen is reporting organisations cutting their fees and registering shell companies.
“The aim of the changes was to forge a randomised market with the aim of getting rid of financial incentives and commissions, and to increase the independence of experts, instructed from a variety of sources.
“Having four or five supermarkets is not good for independence and it puts too much pressure on experts. Quality has suffered.”
Dr Pearce estimated that only around 10% of instructions in whiplash cases were currently sent directly to medical experts.
It emerged last week that the Ministry of Justice is looking at widening the definition of ‘direct financial links’ that have to be declared by users of MedCo to break the “unhealthy relationships between organisations operating in the personal injury sector”.