Since the announcement last year that the Civil Justice Council (CJC) had submitted their final review on fixed fee proposals for Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) claims, I have encountered varying views on how firms intend to prepare for the inevitable. Current tactics range from “waiting to see what happens next” to reviewing every action required to get from the point of instruction right through to settlement in the most efficient manner, now.

Whilst the date for the introduction of fixed fees is yet to be set, it most certainly will happen. Getting on top of the matter early will avoid the panic when a date is eventually announced.

Scrutinising all of your procedures and attempting to get from your current position to one where fewer touches are required to complete those very same tasks may well bring you out in cold sweats, but, in a fixed fee environment, the NIHL market can still be profitable for firms who take a proactive approach to risk and streamlining processes.

Where to begin

Invest some time working out how do you do things at present and consider whether that process could be completed more efficiently. Don’t be afraid to be critical of your current processes.

Consideration Efficiencies
Do you have a uniformed process? Enhance profitability by implementing uniformed processes
What is your current process? Utilise technology to streamline
How does your current flow look? Map out the process – visualise efficiencies
Do you utilise your case management system? Add efficiencies within the case management system
Do you use all of the technological tools available to you? Research technological solutions that offer efficiencies to increase profitability
How much time do you actually spend undertaking tasks? Could time be utilised more efficiently to enhance profitably when fixed fees are implemented?
How much WIP is added for each task? Implement efficiencies to reduce the WIP for each process
What level fee earner undertakes each step? Apply a lower grade fee earner to complete where practicable
Are you double keying? Eliminate any time spent entering the same information twice. Have the data entered at source through GDPR compliant technology

If you are already bringing your time and expense in less than the proposed fixed fees you are to be applauded, you are working efficiently and are well on your way to being fixed fee ready, but are there still some processes that could enhance your future profitability further?

If you are not yet working as efficiently as you can be in readiness for the fixed fee regime, you still have time.

Process, process, process!

Once you have identified your existing processes, you are armed with the knowledge required to identify those that could be handled more efficiently in any combination of the following ways: –

  • A lower grade fee earner;
  • Automate the steps;
  • Apply artificial intelligence;
  • Outsource.

Processing is an allocation of the appropriate resource to enable greater profitability.

“But, it takes time I don’t have!!!”

You can’t argue with the maths….

One efficiency may only save 1 unit of time per case, if that task is performed on 100 cases per month that one efficiency saves 100 units of time per month. This equates to 1200 units of time saved per year. A total of 120 hours that could be utilised elsewhere.

Imagine the efficiencies you could make if you streamlined the whole process from start to finish!

Suddenly NIHL as a work type looks profitable once more.

Work Smart – Don’t reinvent the wheel!

If you recognise that some processes take longer than will work for a fixed fee regime, or double keying is adding an extra unit to a particular process you could spend time and money investing in improving your case management system. Alternatively, you could look to see if that particular efficiency has already been developed and is fully operational and ready to go with your current case management system.

You may currently use an excel spreadsheet to perform your audiogram analysis. That spreadsheet may serve you well, but you could be saving yourself time in double keying your audiogram results, you could even save yourself the time entering them into the case management system altogether!

You may prefer to perform the calculations by hand. A task that takes 20-30 minutes. If you could do the same job in less than one unit of time, why would you not want to implement that efficiency and increase profitability?

Do you have a system in place to check your experts’ calculations? A quick and cost-effective system? Are you going to have the time to check them by hand or re-enter them into your trusty excel spreadsheet when the fixed fee regime comes into force?

You could choose to work smart, get your results at the touch of a button, no double keying, you can be guaranteed that they are accurate and up to date with current guidelines in a fully GDPR compliant way!

noiseCalculator evaluates and interprets audiograms at the touch of a button. It can be fully integrated into your case management system, we can work with your medical agency to ensure that the results are uploaded directly to you within minutes of the appointment taking place, you don’t even have to enter them into your case management system.

If you would like to know more about how Rebmark can assist you to streamline your processes, organise audiology and maximise your profits ahead of the fixed fee regime get in touch with jackie.fry@Rebmark.co.uk or on 0114 2663300.

The full CJC report and annexes can be found on the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary website at https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/publications/establishing-fixed-costs-and-better-procedures-for-noise-claims/