Easing Medical Navigation

Amy McEathron, CEO and President of IMEC.

BY: Norah Machia
In the often complex and complicated world of medical documentation, a Carthage woman has figured a way to build a successful company offering clear and concise independent medical evaluations. They are performed for insurance carriers, attorneys, third-party administrators and many other clientele.

    Amy McEathron is owner and president of the Independent Medical Evaluation Company LLC., which she started in 2006 after working for two other companies in Watertown. When her last employer decided to abruptly shut down its north country office, she was initially devastated, but quickly became determined to move forward on her own.

   “I was having lunch with some clients, and they encouraged me to start my own independent medical evaluation business,” she said. “I was already very knowledgeable about the field.”

   Her company provides “non-biased second opinions” on medical claims being handled through entities such as worker’s compensation, Social Security, insurance companies and legal firms. The independent medical evaluations could related to a variety of situations, such as on-the-job injuries, or motor vehicle accidents. An evaluation could also help determine if an employee is physically fit to perform his or her job duties.

    The Carthage company contracts with board-certified physicians who represent a range of specialties, and the reason their opinions are considered non-biased is because these doctors are not working directly for any particular party, Ms. McEathron explained. They are able to examine patients, review prior medical records, clarify treatment options, and determine levels of disability.

  Providing independent medical evaluations is a multi-layered system that involves a thorough review process of the patient’s injury or medical condition. The goal is to offer a credible and non-biased medical opinion for all parties involved in the case, which is especially helpful for the patient.

   The actual process involves retrieving medical records, preparing patient files, scheduling patient appointments with the appropriate specialists, coordinating with physicians to review cases, processing reports, and ensuring all the interested parties receive the independent medical evaluation.

    “It involves a lot of paperwork, and that’s our specialty,” Ms. McEathron said. “We’re here to take care of all those administrative requirements.” It’s that unique coordination that led to the development of the company’s slogan: “Putting Together all the Pieces of the Puzzle.”

    The physicians who contract with the Carthage company represent an extensive range of medical specialties. The company’s physician network of providers is not just limited to Northern New York, but they are located throughout the country as well, she said. Appointments are scheduled with providers who are closest to the patient.

     These specialties include orthopedics, endocrinology, cardiology, general and plastic surgery, internal medicine, dermatology, neuropsychiatry, oncology, podiatry, gastroenterology, psychology, vascular surgery and chiropractic, among many others.

    “Our role is to take care of all the administration requirements,” Ms. McEathron said. “These medical evaluations are also very important for the patients to ensure they get the proper medical treatment.”

   Ms. McEathron first started her company in a small rented office space in downtown Carthage (she jokes that she was not able to start the business in her home at that time, because there was not a reliable Internet provider serving her rural neighborhood).

     “I started with an office the size of a closet, and a cardboard box full of papers,” she said.

    But her persistence, knowledge, and connections in the field paid off, and she eventually was able to expand and relocate to larger office space at 111 Riverside Drive. After several years of renting space, she purchased the building for her permanent office, and then succeeded in obtaining a downtown revitalization grant for major renovations. 

     Ms. McEathron also obtained the New York state designation of being a certified Women Business Enterprise a few years ago, which resulted in an even larger growth of clientele. Many government agencies and other types of businesses are required by law to contract with a certain percentage of women and minority-owned businesses.

     Today, the Independent Medical Evaluation Company employs 15 people, and several are able to work remotely from their homes. Ms. McEathron is planning to hire additional staff this year.

      “We’ve helped clients throughout Northern New York, but also in many other state’s as well,” she said. “We have the ability to rent space in doctors’ offices for evaluations wherever the patient is located.”

     For more information: www.imecnys.com