Charging affairs at the embassy
If you are thinking of expanding your private work to provide services for embassies, then there are some essential billing and collection matters you need to be aware of, warns Garry Chapman
With the increasing number of consultants entering the private sector, many are looking at alternative ways of increasing the size of their private practice.
It certainly makes good sense to review your practice on a regular basis and there are many areas outside of the traditional private medical insurance (PMI) sector where a consultant can operate and generate additional revenue.
This is important for a variety of reasons, but the main one is the same for any business: diversification.
It is important for any business to have revenue streams from a variety of sources so that if a particular source of income tails off the effect on the business is minimised.
That, in turn, makes the practice more robust.
When an analysis was made of the invoices we raised over the past 12 months, it showed that the PMI market only accounted for 55% of the total amount.
The remaining 45% was split between other organisations such as:
- Solicitors (for medico-legal work)
- Other commercial organisations.
Here I will focus on embassies and what you need to know from a billing and collection perspective if you are thinking of expanding into this sector.
The embassies are mainly in London and therefore you will have to operate within this geographical location in order to take advantage of this sector.
While there are over 50 embassies within London, the majority of the patients come from the big four which are Kuwait Health, Kuwait Military, United Arab Emirates Medical and Qatar.
There are some important things you need to consider before deciding to enter this arena.
Typically the embassy patients that you will see will have complex conditions and this is one of the main reasons why they travel to this country.
When you see the patients for the initial consultation, they will normally be accompanied by an interpreter. So that fact, combined with the probability of dealing with a complex case, means that the consultation is likely to take longer than normal.
So you do need to allow more time.
Before seeing the patient, it is absolutely crucial that you obtain a LOG, which stands for a letter of guarantee.
This document will authorise treatment for the patient and must be in your name. Without this document, it is very unlikely that you will get paid for any treatment that is carried out.
The final important point to note is that with the embassies, payment can take a long time.
That is therefore an important factor for consideration, particularly in terms of cash flow.
Due to all these factors, it is absolutely crucial that you get your practice prepared correctly from the very first contact with these embassies.
Otherwise you could end up doing a lot of work and either not get paid at all or end up waiting a long time for payment which could have an adverse effect on your practice.
Garry Chapman is managing director
at Medical Billing and Collection
- 01494 763 999
- Medical Billing & Collection
Buckinghamshire HP7 9LP
More than Just a Billing Company