Medical Billing Forum

General Category => General Questions => Topic started by: MABB on December 28, 2011, 04:00:31 PM

Post by: MABB on December 28, 2011, 04:00:31 PM
Hi all, I am new but hope that you  can give me some insight. 

I have a billing company and a former client is requesting access to my computer systems to download information for the accounts recieveables that I have returned to them.  The former client has purchased the the same billing software I use and does not want to take the time involved to reenter the information into their new system for billing the accounts.  I feel that this request is absurd and a breach of my own privacy policy to allow a FORMER client access to anything on my computer systems!  I feel that it is of little consequence to me if it is labor intensive on their end, not to mention that any history in the files is the property of my company, not theirs.

Has anyone else had this problem?  Now the former client is calling my office repeatedly and does not seem to understand that the answer is no! 

Thanks, any responses would be greatly appreciated!
Post by: PMRNC on December 28, 2011, 06:47:50 PM
You don't have to allow them access, however you do have to provide them with all of the same data. If push came to shove and if they force the issue they would win in court to either gain access to the files or at very least you provide the data for them via a backup disk or flash drive.  IMHO it's easier to just give them the necessary data and reports and be done with it. 
Post by: MABB on December 28, 2011, 08:59:46 PM
I have already provided them with all of the accounts, names, addresses, amounts  and who we were billing as of the date the account was returned.  I dont think that they thought it though as what they were going to have to do when they rcv'd the accounts.  The history/narrative (work we did on the accounts) is the property of the billing company. I have made it known to them that these accounts need to be pursued and that it would be their responsibility to do so.  As the provider they have the original record that they would have provided to us in order to bill prior to them purchasing their own billing software.  I still don't see how it is my responsibility to reduce their labor costs, especially now that they are no longer a client and we do not represent them. 

Your thoughts? Thanks! ~MABB
Post by: Michele on December 29, 2011, 07:18:52 AM
But couldn't she just provide them with the reports, hard copy, which would have all the data/information?  I understand her point.  If they decided to switch PM's they would either have to pay for a data conversion or re-enter the info.  I agree completely that she would need to provide all requested data but it sounds like she may have done that.  Is there anything that says she must provide it in electronic format so that they can use it in their PM system? 

Sorry, don't mean to start up anything, just curious.  We had a client that just had a major computer crash.  We did provide electronic data for him to have converted to save him but he is still a client.  It wasn't all data, mostly demographics.  Totally different scenario but it got me thinking.

Although I would give them a backup or flash before I allowed them access to my system, and I wouldn't fight it to the point of court, but I was just curious.   :D
Post by: MABB on December 29, 2011, 09:51:40 AM
Michele, I agree with you.  I have provided all the data in hardcopy form.  Their complaint is that it is going to be too "time-consuming and labor intensive" to re-enter the info manually.  This provider is no longer a client and if they were I would make every effort to help them if something had occured.  I dont feel that I am responsible to help them reduce their time spent or labor costs now that they are no longer clients.  I feel that I have gone above and beyond what I need to do to help them transition since I stopped billing for them at the end of July but continued to do follow up and clean up some of their open accounts until they deactivated my provider id. 

There is nothing in my contract with them that says I have to provide them with the information electronically.  I feel that they are trying to take advantage of me by wanting the benefit of all the time and work that I put into entering it into the system without having to pay me for doing it.  I am not withholding information - I just don't feel that it is my responsibility to save them time and money since they are no longer clients. 

I appreciate everyone's thoughts!  I want to be sure that I am making the right decision.  :)

Thanks,  MABB ;)   
Post by: DMK on December 29, 2011, 10:21:48 AM
Putting a different spin on it, what if they bought an entirely different software?  You would NOT be responsible for helping them with data conversion.

Linda's right that a flash drive with their info would be the quickest way to resolve it, then they have to figure it our from there.  ie: how to load the data in their software.  They let you go, that's the price they pay.  You're not responsible to train them in the software or transfer their data.  You only have to give them the data entered during the period you were working for them.

This is a learning experience for all of us.  Make sure your future contracts with clients spells this out.  I don't think many of us would have thought to put that in our contracts.
Post by: MABB on December 30, 2011, 01:31:23 PM
Well I explained to the former client that my company has already provided them with the hardcopy data which I am required to do, so the company's obligation has already been filfilled and business with them has concluded.  I rcvd a reply to that as though they didnt hear a word and want to know when I am available to allow a third party access to my system!  I have not responded becasue I feel that my previous expaination said it all.  My obligation has been filfilled and business has concluded.  I'm sure that they will continue to harrass me about this becasue they are not getting the answer that they want.  All of the time that they are wasting on this, they could have had their project completed aas they have had their data for several weeks now!

Thanks all! ~MABB
Post by: PMRNC on December 31, 2011, 11:13:17 AM
First, no the data does NOT belong to you. Second.. the process of termination in your contract should address the method to which data will be returned. There have been many cases of providers taking billing companies to court for this data because indeed it does belong to them, your entry of that data came from their source documents, the source documents given to you (copies) is all you claim legal ownership over.   The simplest solution I see where everyone wins and you get to keep a bridge unburnt, is to simply setup a login/password and have your options set to where they cannot make changes but they can have access ONLY to their files.  Your PM software should accommodate  this easily since they are all required for audit trails.   JMHO.. I think it would be the most professional thing to do rather than being forced to do it in court.
Post by: Michele on January 01, 2012, 01:29:21 PM
I do agree with Linda that it is easier and more professional to cooperate.  I do have a problem with giving them access to my system though.  Without a doubt the data belongs to them, and it needs to be provided.  It did appear that she did provide data so I was curious if she had to continue to provide it in different formats.  Of course the key to what Linda said is that the process of termination should be spelled out in the contract.  If it is spelled out well, you won't run into these problems.  (Or at least they will be fewer!)

Happy New Year!  It's a good time to start out fresh and make sure we have these things covered!
Post by: PMRNC on January 01, 2012, 02:56:30 PM
I've seen these cases in court.. it always swings in the best interest of everyone. IF the provider HAS said software that is same as billing company, the data must be supplied in that same format.. If that's not possible and the only route is access. then that is what has to be done. Since there are many ways to secure the transmission there is no danger to the billing company's files so long as they are HIPAA compliant they need only setup an admin login for the practice that would cover themselves.  The data is only being copied, not exported.  A judge is going to rule for this and will enforce it with a liaison on both ends at the parties expense, much easier to comply and be done with it and secure a good reputation and reference. To me it makes no sense to draw this out to go to court.
Post by: MABB on January 03, 2012, 09:37:22 AM
Linda & Michele,

Yes, I completely agree that the A/R belongs to the client.  But I have provided that and I have a HUGE problem allowing anyone to access my system.  Really, just how many times do I have to provide the same info?  If I have my IT pro download the data to a disk or give them the data digitally, it is going to cost me additional money for something that I have already given them.  I think that the method in which they bill now is really irrelevant.  Like in a previous post, if they had a different software then this would be a non issue.  This particular client has been incooporative with me during the transition process and we have really gone above and beyond what we need to do.  Where does it end?  Actually, when we spoke with the client's board member regarding the conclusion of our business relationship this topic was discussed whereas it was agreed by him that once they rcvd the A/R business was concluded.  Now they are asking for yet ANOTHER favor to make their job easier.  The line has to be drawn somewhere and I'm not comfortable allowing access to my system.   

I respect your opinions and thank you for your input. I think that it is going to be in my best interest to retain my legal professional in order to protect myself even if I decide to allow the access they are requesting.  I want this issue to be concluded and business with client to cease as soon as possible.  This is taking my valuable time away from my paying clients who wish to continue a professional business relationship and I want to be able to devote my time to them.  Thanks again, Im glad to have found this forum and found it to be very helpful!

Happy New Year to all!
Post by: PMRNC on January 03, 2012, 11:36:09 AM
By consulting your attorney you are indeed making the right choice right off the bat.. I completely agree 100%.  I just think you need to look at what it will cost you in court vs. Just complying now. IF you are truly HIPAA compliant, having them access THEIR data only should NOT be a problem, you should be able to allow them READ only access, as that is included in any good HIPAA compliant software with audit trail turned on.  There's no need to allow them access to ANYTHING on your system aside from the access YOU SET, within your PM Software.   When you consider the time you will spend, answering them, writing, them talking to them, and potentially going to court to lose more time and money, I still say it's not a big deal to just allow them access. You can draw up a final termination contract to include legal verbiage of this ONE time access, let them get what they need and remove the access, backup your data according to data retention laws for your state and be done with them.   This is what my attorney would advise me to do in my best interest. Most attorney retainer's don't allow for time lost to go to court, court costs, administrative fees, etc. 
Post by: PMRNC on January 03, 2012, 11:38:10 AM
Oh one more thing.. There's nothing that says you have to do or make any special provisions for "FREE".  quote them a price to accommodate the administrative setup of such access, and even the IT or person who will OVERSEE this access.. make some money off of it :)
Post by: Michele on January 04, 2012, 05:17:29 AM
That's why we love your input Linda!  Your legal background gives you a great angle.   ;D
Post by: MABB on January 04, 2012, 01:36:51 PM

Point well taken! I really want this to come to a swift end.  I have spoken with my attorney who gave me similar advice. Most importantly, the ambulance community which we bill for is very tight knit and I do not want to lose potential clients becasue of this.  Word of mouth can make or break you in this community.  I pride my company in having complete professionalism. 

Thanks to everyone who responded.  I am very fortunate to have found this forum! 
Thanks again!