Healthcare // Policy & Regulation
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7/21/2014
12:40 PM
Jonathan Malz
Jonathan Malz
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How E-Discovery Cuts Legal Costs For Novo Nordisk

Pharma giant boosts efficiency, reduces outsourcing labor with in-house technology that discovers and produces electronic information for legal purposes.

While it is financially impractical for a healthcare organization's legal department to have a headcount large enough to complete all e-discovery tasks, deciding which ones should be outsourced is a key challenge to help make an in-house legal team efficient.

The challenge is to discover and produce electronic information for legal purposes. Traditionally, if an assignment was too voluminous or too technical, it was outsourced. However, the ever-present drive to push e-discovery costs down, while still maintaining a level of control, encourages in-house counsel to reevaluate which e-discovery tasks are sent to external vendors. While no organization should expect its legal department to perform discovery review on crates of documents, the concept of a job being too technical is quickly fading away.

With the ever-changing landscape of healthcare laws and governmental healthcare reforms, pharmaceutical companies are faced with important decisions regarding the company's bottom line. Novo Nordisk A/S is a global healthcare organization with 90 years of innovation and leadership experience in diabetes care. Its mission is to prevent, treat, and ultimately cure diabetes. Novo employs approximately 35,000 workers worldwide. Novo Nordisk Inc. (NNI), the company's US affiliate, has about 4,000 NNI field-staff members spread out across the country.

[A challenge for government, too: Federal Agencies Lack E-Discovery Savvy.]

Like many healthcare organizations, NNI has seen e-discovery grow in recent years. Due to high demand, NNI was forced to outsource its e-discovery needs to various vendors to complete the entire cycle of collection, processing, exporting, and hosting terabytes of data. The process was time consuming, burdensome, and exposed proprietary NNI data to multiple vendors. In addition, with the continued (and increasing) influx of new data, NNI needed to keep its information safe, accessible, and compliant to avoid potential legal issues. NNI's legal team determined it had a real need to bring in-house what had traditionally been an outsourced function.

When the decision to bring services in-house is made, organizations should develop a strategic plan to elevate which processes can be brought in-house versus which operational processes are not financially feasible. Taking into consideration past litigation costs can help create a baseline for evaluating which processes are best to bring in-house and which tasks should continue to be outsourced.

(Source: filin ilia - aliyo.hu on Flickr)
(Source: filin ilia - aliyo.hu on Flickr)

NNI evaluated several potential solutions and decided to implement Symantec's eDiscovery Platform powered by Clearwell to facilitate in-house processing of e-discovery requests. This provided NNI with efficient streamlined search-and-collection capabilities that are customized for NNI's specific needs. NNI's selection of Symantec was a calculated choice due to the Enterprise Vault archiving infrastructure already in place. Symantec eDiscovery Platform's ability to seamlessly connect with Enterprise Vault eased some of the technological and financial concerns that may not have been addressed with other available technologies.

Since implementing eDiscovery Platform in February 2013, NNI has been able to reduce costs in excess of $800,000. Day-to-day maintenance of the system requires only one full-time litigation support analyst, who serves as a subject matter expert and a bridge between the organization's legal and IT departments.

NNI tailored Symantec's e-discovery software to allow for expedited response to inquiries, while maintaining compliance in the highly regulated pharmaceutical industry. These improvements also help protect NNI's intellectual property by exposing far fewer people to the data. Additionally, NNI can efficiently respond to requests for information since it can launch searches from within the legal department and no longer has to serve as a liaison between outside counsel and an e-discovery vendor.

The ability to bring e-discovery in-house can directly affect an organization's bottom line. Corporations are looking to mitigate risk while at the same time reduce costs. Quicker response times, management of expectations, and understanding your organization's information stores can decrease costs.

Ever-growing obligations have forced healthcare organizations to abandon traditional methods of information governance. Conducting cost-effective reviews of electronically stored information (ESI) in various types of litigation is becoming the top priority for our industry. As courts quickly adopt new methodologies, e-discovery is evolving to encompass the new technological trend.

When selecting a particular e-discovery product, organizations should pay attention to critical features such as semantic analysis, predictive coding, and the number of file formats the product can review. These key components

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Jonathan Malz is a litigation attorney in Novo Nordisk's Litigation Group. He manages product liability litigation, commercial disputes, and government investigations. In addition, Jon is globally responsible for all aspects of the company's discovery processes focused on ... View Full Bio
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ChrisJanak
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ChrisJanak,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/1/2014 | 10:41:26 AM
Vendor Management is key to cost control
EDiscovery itself can be exceptionally costly, of course. Good vendor management is the key to managing those costs. http://realediscovery.blogspot.com/2014/07/5-questions-you-should-be-asking-your.html
asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
7/29/2014 | 6:22:52 PM
A little tech goes a long way
The problem with using e-discovery tools to bring down costs is that the personnel making the buying decisions (medical staff/hospital Admins) are very often clueless as to anything IT/software related. Consequently, the software being purchased ends up costing millions of dollars b/c the software company (cough Oracle cough) banks on the fact the company contact doesn't know much about tech thereby ensuring a rather large cha-ching payout.

Note here that the ability to text and/or download/install an app to a smartphone does not equal a proficiency in tech.  I have witnessed this issue first hand in the legal industry itself.  I don't hold out much hope for the medical industry either.  But it was a nice thought.
Research: Healthcare IT Priorities
Research: Healthcare IT Priorities
Meeting regulatory requirements barely inched out managing digital patient data as the top priority for our 363 healthcare provider IT pros.
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