The Importance of Tracking Your Arbitration Agreements

    Utilizing an Arbitration Agreement is an important tool in your risk management arsenal, as it can reduce the cost of defending against a claim and provide a more appropriate forum for a healthcare claim to be litigated.  The annual actuarial analysis commissioned by the American Health Care Association indicated, “The increased use of arbitration has been cited by participants in report as a key factor in reducing average severity.” 

    Your organization has recognized this, and now, you’ve implemented the practice of offering an Arbitration Agreement during your admission process.  You have provided training for your employees on how to approach this document with new admissions, and you have some agreements that have been signed and some that have not been signed.  This document is now a part of your admission paperwork, but after it is signed (or not signed), how do you keep tabs on it?  Is there a reason to have the status of a resident’s Arbitration Agreement at your fingertips?

    Knowing how many residents your senior living community is admitting who have signed your Arbitration Agreement is good information to review on a regular basis.  Tracking this information can tell you a couple of things:

    1. How successful your admissions coordinator is with securing a signed Arbitration Agreement
      1. If an admissions coordinator is struggling in this area, it may mean that additional education and training is needed to assist them in presenting the agreement to a new admission
    2. The level of risk your community may be facing in terms of the likelihood of civil proceedings in the event of a dispute with a resident or a resident’s family
      1. In particular, litigious jurisdictions where trial lawyers have advertised heavily, senior living communities may find that they have fewer signed Arbitration Agreements than communities in other jurisdictions

    For example, you may be able to create user-defined fields within the demographics section of the resident’s medical record.  A field can be created that allows the admissions coordinator to note that the Arbitration Agreement was “signed,” “refused,” or “other” from a drop-down menu.  Additionally, a follow-up field can capture the identity of the person who signed the agreement with a drop-down menu to include “Resident,” “Health Care Surrogate,” “Medical POA,” “Durable or General POA,” “Guardian/Conservator.”  If “Resident” is selected, then another field can appear that requires the admission coordinator to note whether the Resident had documentation of “Capacity” or “Competency.”  At this point, you will have collected thorough information about the administration of the Arbitration Agreement to a new admission, and again, depending on your EMR system, you can generate reports that provide data showing the success rate of obtaining signed agreements as well as supplemental details regarding the enforceability of those that were signed.

    If your EMR system does not offer this functionality, it is worthwhile to consider tracking this information utilizing other means, such as Access or Excel.  While this process may be a bit more cumbersome, the benefits of having this information (updated on a monthly or quarterly basis) is valuable and worth the extra effort.

    For questions or additional best practice information regarding Arbitration Agreements, please reach out to the AssuredPartners Senior Living insurance professionals.

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