Hi, I’m Attorney Jim Mangraviti from SEAK, and I’m here with Attorney Steve Babitsky from SEAK. And today we’re going to talk about how to become an independent medical examiner. Steve, what is an independent medical examiner, and what do IME doctors do?
Steve Babitsky: Independent medical examiners are physicians who examine for insurance companies and independent medical companies to do insurance exams. An independent medical examiner will view medical records, examine examinee and then will later on write a report and perhaps testify at a deposition or trial or hearing.
Jim Mangraviti: Steve, how much do independent medical examiners . . . how much can they make?
Steve Babitsky: Independent medical examiners can make between $600 and $1500 per exam, and as they can bunch up their exams to one day, they could make between $100,000 and $150,000 a year, if not more, per year doing independent medical examinations just one day per week.
Jim Mangraviti: What are the biggest advantages to performing IMEs?
Steve Babitsky: Well, following up on the last question, one of the most important advantages is it is lucrative. In these type of exams physicians can make an excellent living. And the second thing there is that there’s no call. Physicians can make these appointments for these exams on their own schedule and have them bunched together.
Thirdly, there’s relatively little potential liability. It’s not like doing . . . It’s not like you have a physician-patient relationship. So there are very little medical malpractice concerns. There’s minimal overhead. You need very little equipment.
And also one of the most important things is as physicians get older they tend to want to do these kinds of non-clinical work. And these exams can be done after a physician retires from clinical practice.
Jim Mangraviti: Excellent. Do you need to be board certified?
Steve Babitsky: Some of the providers like that you be board certified, but you don’t have to be.
Jim Mangraviti: What about a medical license?
Steve Babitsky: You do need an active medical license.
Jim Mangraviti: Okay, now what side typically hires doctors to do IMEs, plaintiff or defense?
Steve Babitsky: Generally speaking, it’s the defense side that hires IME physicians; however, there are plaintiff cases which also end up hiring physicians to do independent medical exams.
Jim Mangraviti: Okay, and who typically requests IMEs?
Steve Babitsky: Well, you have your insurance companies that request IMEs. You have the case managers, and adjusters. You have law firms. You have third-party administrators, and you may have other people as well. So there’s quite a few different groups that request independent medical exams.
Jim Mangraviti: Okay, now are some specialties more in demand for this type of work than others? And if so, what are the specialties that are really the sweet spot for this type of work?
Steve Babitsky: Well, the vast majority of this type of work is musculoskeletal in nature. So you have the orthopedists, the neurosurgeons, the neurologists, the PMR, Physical Medicine Rehabilitation. You also have the pain doctors, the occupational medicine doctors, the psychiatrists as well.
Now in specialized cases you’ll have other specialties as well. So if you have a dermatitis case, you’ll have a dermatologist. If you have an ocular cases, you have an ophthalmologist. If you have an ear case, you might have an ENT specialist as well. But those are used less than musculoskeletal specialties.
Jim Mangraviti: Okay, and if you could give some advice, what are the keys to success that you teach doctors when you teach them IME skills?
Steve Babitsky: Well, several things. Number one is accessibility and availability. It doesn’t matter how good of a doctor you are, it doesn’t matter how good your clinical skills are or even your IME skills, if you’re not accessible and available, you’re of very little use. So you have to make yourself available to the clients who are trying to hire you so they can set up the exams promptly.
Number two, you have to do a good examination. Number three, you also want to write a great report. When you write a great report, you’re answering all of the questions that are asked to you by the client. You’re avoiding putting in personal information in the report, and you’re answering all their questions to their satisfaction. You have to get the report out in a timely fashion, and these are some of the keys to doing an excellent job as an IME physician.
Jim Mangraviti: Steve, how does our company seek help doctors that want to be independent medical examiners?
Steve Babitsky: We provide a series of service and products to physicians who want to get better as an IME doctor. We have two courses, “Starting and Building an Excellent IME practice” and the IME Masters Course which we run, both two day courses.
In addition to that, we have . . . Some of this is captured on video. For example, the IME skills course is captured on video, and we have a course, Marketing and Growing your IME Practice which is also captured on video which we have available. We have a book called Writing and Defending your IME Report which people can purchase right off our website.
And we also work with physicians one on one to help them do better reports, to help them market their practice, and also to help them build an excellent IME practice.
Jim Mangraviti: Do we have any services of directories that help doctors actually get cases as an independent medical examiner?
Steve Babitsky: Yes, we have the National Directory of Independent Medical Examiners which goes out across the United States. People list themselves in the directory, and they can actually pick up a substantial amount of work simply and easily by putting their name in the directory.
Jim Mangraviti: And is that directory online as well?
Steve Babitsky: Yes, it is.
Jim Mangraviti: And where would that be?
Steve Babitsky: It would be www.IMEdirectory.com.
Jim Mangraviti: Thank you very much.