Keep close watch on billing services if you note problems.
Q: We have a billing service and we have generally had positive results from them. Lately, there have been a number of issues with errors and we have noticed what could be a problem with our accounts receivable. The firm's reporting process has also been overdue on a number of occasions. What can we do to get them back on track?
A: This should be treated as crisis prevention and it should receive your immediate attention. Any time a financial function is in question, the practice owners should put everything aside until it is addressed and resolved. This is a key area where you may be seeing only the tip of the iceberg and you must discern quickly just how your accounts receivable are being managed.
You should contact your accountant and arrange for a meeting between his or her firm and your management team and the billing service to go over reports for the last two years. The present status of the errors that you have discovered should be addressed along with any lags in reporting. You should request (and require) that there be a follow-up meeting on a monthly basis that addresses the status of all accounts and write-offs and billing performance measures. Your financial counselor or accountant should define what reports are essential and they should participate in the oversight of this process. If you have professional-level management, they should be put on notice that they must give you weekly reports on the performance of the processes that support the billing service function (registration, collections, deposits, posting, etc.).
A. Michael La Penna, The La Penna Group Inc., Grand Rapids, Michigan. Send your practice management questions to email@example.com