No longer footing the bill for debts

No price increases since 2007 but a 20% rise in net income.
Surgeon Mr Peter Rosenfeld tells how outsourcing the billing has paid dividends for his group

No-longer-footing-the-bill-for-debts-1The Clinic for Foot & Ankle Surgery was founded by Mr James Calder and myself in 2007 with the intention of putting together a group of consultant orthopaedic surgeons who specialise in the foot and ankle, together with a top orthotist.
This area of expertise was not well addressed in London, and after extensive research, we decided to base ourselves at HCA’s The Lister Hospital. This was primarily because The Lister shared our philosophy in its pursuit of excellence supported by world-class facilities and staff.
We opened our clinic in November 2007 by merging our existing practices.
It became an immediate success and quickly became busy.
We expanded to four surgeons over the following year, with continued success and demand.

Overwhelming paperwork
With success, we concentrated on our clinical work and the paperwork became overwhelming. We had very little time to focus on the administration of the practice and balance the books.
It was late spring of 2010, during our monthly consultant meeting, that we realised there was a problem with our accounts.
We were all so busy clinically but our monthly income did not reflect this and we suspected our neglect of the paperwork was the cause After an investigation, we found that our secretaries had been so busy dealing with the increased patient activity, that the billing and collection aspects of the group had been neglected.
This had caused a backlog of outstanding debt which was in excess of £330,000. Combined with this, there was a two- to three-month delay in the invoicing being sent out.
Once we had recovered from the shock of this huge debt, we then had to decide how to recover it and also solve the backlog of billing that had been created, as well as finding a way forward to stop it happening again.
It was at this point that one of the anaesthetists, who worked with the group on a regular basis, explained how he had used a company that had dealt with his billing for years and that he had been very happy with their services. We made immediate contact with them.

Put into intensive care
MBC – Medical Billing and Collection – took over the financial side of the group practice just over two years ago and initially put us into ‘intensive care’ while it dealt with our backlog of outstanding debts.
It also billed the backlog of outstanding work which had not been invoiced and set up regular communication with our secretaries, who sent the necessary clinical information to the company on a regular basis to ensure that all the work was invoiced in a timely manner.
MBC appointed an account manager to look after our finances and contacted all the insurance companies to say that all correspondence would now be dealt with by them. All invoices that were sent out had the billing company’s address on them so that it could deal with all issues in the future.
The firm then set about chasing our backlog while, at the same time, ensuring that all our clinics were billed promptly so that they could be chased efficiently. During the early period, we were kept informed at all stages of the process, which put any concerns we had to rest very quickly.
It is now over two years since we outsourced the financial side of our practice and, during that time, we have seen the finances go from strength to strength.
Recovering the backlog of outstanding
debt (over 98% recovery rate) was so successful that one of our consultants got the firm to chase his outstanding debt from a previous practice.
Once MBC started doing the financial side, we were able to take on another consultant for the group without any increase in secretarial support, while at the same time offering a better service to the patients. This, in turn, assisted the growth of the practice.
Since we outsourced our billing, nearly £4m of revenue has been invoiced and over 99.999% of that figure has been collected, so we operate with virtually no debt.
This is something that we could never have dreamt of achieving by ourselves.
As our relationship with MBC has developed, it has taken on more and more of our financial duties including bank reconciliation for all our consultants. This ensures that all the money collected ends up in the appropriate bank account, with the group administration charges correctly deducted.
It is amazing how strong we are as a group now that we only have to focus on the care of the patient.
And we have not increased our prices since we started the group, yet we have seen an increase in our net income of up to 20%.
Our advice to any consultant operating in private practice – particularly if you are in a group – would be to make sure that your billing and collection is looked after by a professional organisation.

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