Friday, October 10, 2014

Using a Billing Company to Protect Your Agency Against Theft

In the news…
Every time the subject is in the news, we cringe. Another trusted person controlling the check book for a non-profit or volunteer Fire/EMS organization has been charged with a financial crime.

It happens all the time. The treasurer, the president, the chief; the guy with a zillion hours of time and dozens of years of service is the guilty party. The person that everyone trusts implicitly is found to have been pilfering from the company treasury.

It’s right there on the front page of the daily newspaper. Another black eye for the department and no one saw it coming.

Protect Your Agency Against Theft
What can be done?
There are many ways to protect your organization from being the next victim. We could fill many blog posts on this subject. But since this is a blog that focuses on EMS billing and related issues, we are going to focus on how a third-party billing contractor can help you protect your agency from being the next headline.

The three ways an outside EMS billing company, like Enhanced, can do for your agency is...
  • Accept and distribute reimbursement dollars independently and securely
  • Provide unfiltered and detailed reporting
  • Communicate with your agency to increase oversight and accountability

Let’s take a look at all three:

Accept and distribute reimbursement dollars independently and securely
Allowing a disinterested third party to handle and track the flow of incoming reimbursement dollars from your agency’s EMS billing program is one of the top reasons why your agency should engage a third-party billing contractor for added security.

Any reputable third-party EMS billing contractor that operates in today’s tech-savvy world will encourage that as many dollars as possible flow into your organization electronically. Electronically distributed funds are easy to trace and leave a trail. Direct deposits have a footprint that traces back to the payer, funnels into a time/day stamped tracking mechanism that is also secured via the bank of your agency’s choice.

Transfer logs, posting accountability in the billing computer system and bank statements and logs all easily note the path of the incoming dollars. In addition, any billing company that is sophisticated is doing all it can today to receive Electronic Remittance Advice (ERA) instead of hard copy paper Explanations of Benefits (EOBs). The ERA notifications are distributed by the payer source through the billing company for posting. This insures that there is a digital trail of how the funds were distributed by documenting their arrival and disbursement to your agency.

EOBs can be shredded if someone wishes to cover their tracks. ERAs are archived and saved for review by the independent billing company.

Even those payments that don’t arrive electronically and are disbursed via a paper check can be easily traced when the billing company you use utilizes a system like Remote Check Deposit (RCD). Paper checks that arrive in the billing office’s care are recorded, preferably digitally imaged for future reference and then scanned electronically to be distributed via an electronic funds transfer holding account directly to your agency’s chosen bank account. The transfer holding account provides another level of tracking outside of the direct control (and potential manipulation) of the person who tends to the books within your agency.

Of course, all dollars are also posted in the billing system to quickly update the patient account and allow for secondary billing, if necessary. All of this means a more secure, controlled and speedier distribution of the incoming funds into accounts that can be managed and tracked by many persons in the administration loop.

Provide unfiltered and detailed reporting
A third-party EMS billing contractor must provide detailed reporting of the entire cash flow picture. When choosing a contractor, be sure to choose one that can demonstrate your agency’s ability to pull reports that can be accessed remotely via a secure Internet connection.

Good detailed data that can be accessed easily via a secure computer link is key to keeping tabs on whoever controls the checkbook. Once you have that data in hand, then your agency’s administrators should be easily able to justify the incoming reimbursements that have been recorded by the billing company against the deposits and internal bookkeeping at your agency.

Discrepancies should easily be detected in this model.

Communicate with your agency to increase oversight and accountability
Finally, the third-party billing company your agency chooses to work with must be easy to communicate with. Designated persons should be appointed by your agency to work together with the billing company to verify billing program results. Plus communication from the billing company can be shared across several administrative levels within your agency’s top level decision-making tree.

Choose a third-party billing company that employs knowledgeable individuals that can help you sift through the numbers if ever a question arises. Choose a third-party billing company that digitally archives all of the supporting documents digitally for easy access when a potential problem arises. Choose a third-party billing company that is easy to contact, responsive to your needs and requests and offers a full range of connection opportunities such as toll-free telephone, e-mail, Live Chat via the Internet and other value-added features that will benefit your organization by enabling all administrative levels to keep an eye on what’s going on with the billing program.

The Ambulance Billing Services blog is an educational resource offered to clients and interested persons by Enhanced Management Services, Inc. Enhanced is an all-EMS billing contractor with Fire/EMS agency clients across the United States. To learn more about the third-party EMS billing services offered by Enhanced, visit our website at and use the “Get Started” button.
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