Why Are Mediation and Arbitration Appropriate for Healthcare Disputes?
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Published by TOP4 Team
Disputes in the healthcare industry, though very common, are some of the unique ones in almost every aspect. This uniqueness is what makes them the perfect candidates for alternative dispute resolution (ADR). In addition to being a more creative and flexible approach, mediation offers a whole range of other benefits that outweigh other alternatives - confidentiality, cost-effectiveness, quicker timeline, and familiarity (if conducted by someone with medical experience). Leaving everything in the hands of a judge or jury may who not be familiar with an industry's nuances is unappealing to most parties. Because of the unique situations that can occur in a healthcare setting, parties involved in a dispute within this industry often prefer to have direct input in the creation of a resolution rather than turning their problems over to a stranger. They would also rather have their dispute resolved or the mediation facilitated by someone who is familiar with the healthcare industry.
Money is the most common reason for disputes, and that is true even in healthcare. Disputes usually involve payors (insurers) and providers, although they can sometimes be more diverse than that. Disagreements regarding net revenue distribution are common in practice groups and they are one of the aspects of the business that needs to be resolved privately and confidentially. There are other types of disputes, such as disagreements between members of physician groups, risk management controversies, patient safety claims against health care facilities and physicians, disputes regarding mergers and acquisitions, etc.
Specific concerns and needs within this particular environment such as patient privacy, improving efficiency, managing relationships with investors, eliminating disputes effectively in a timely manner, preserving ongoing business relationships, an interest in keeping disputes private rather than having them aired in a public forum, and reducing distractions for staff who need to focus on their job are critical issues that are often involved in the dispute and warrant the need for arbitration and mediation.
Compared to litigation, mediation and arbitration afford more privacy and confidentiality because case facts do not become part of public record. These two methods give better control to the flow of information because all parties often have stakes in keeping the proceeding and results private. They also help parties avoid getting caught in a lengthy and public controversy about a healthcare issue that could result in a public relations fiasco. Instead, they provide a safe and private environment for the disputants to resolve all facets of the issues with the help of someone who understands the business.
The timely resolution of most disputes resolved through mediation and arbitration is also another plus factor to consider. Less time is wasted because meetings can be scheduled to everyone's convenience and not based on a court's calendar, not to mention mediators' and arbitrators' abilities to cut to the chase and uncover to the real issues quickly. This also appeals to busy professionals who could be doing something more productive with their time rather than spending more time in a costly and emotionally frustrating litigation.
The last feature of mediation and arbitration that makes it perfect for healthcare is its flexibility, especially when it comes to generated solutions. Mediators who specialise on disputes within this industry are creative enough to suggest a variety of fresh concepts as well as solutions that have proven to be effective in other cases. When a mediator is skilled enough to do this, the resolution turns into something that is better suited for the dispute that the one that could have been handed down by a court.
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