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Are You Being Farmed-Out?

Are you being farmed-out? That is a relatively simple question, but as often found in the radiography industry many professionals answer that question incorrectly. By no fault of their own, they have been conditioned to assume ABC Company serves them only to later find that XYZ Company is actually performing the services rendered. It is important for Healthcare and Veterinary professionals to understand the effects of farming-out so they can make an educated decision on whether or not they will continue to be part of what many have appropriately labeled the "Service Triangle".

Every day businesses across all spectrums grapple with what they can and can not do to fulfill their obligations to their clients. Many decide that "farming-out" their clients is an appropriate measure. Farming-out is essentially a company handing over their clients to a third party without the client knowing in order to turn a profit on products and services the company can not support. This is usually done on a commission or bonus based agreement; rendering the client as nothing more than a sales lead. In most industries it is tolerable. In the radiography industry it should be avoided.

"I should have known something was wrong. There was a different technician with every service call."

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Farming-out unfortunately only benefits the companies involved. It enables a small, often times start up, company to portray themselves as a large corporation, to deem themselves experienced on products and services they know little about and to turn a profit on the sale of goods they can not support. The result leaves clients unsure of whom to call and whom to pay for services needed or rendered. Many times these victims issue duplicate payments. Recovery of these erroneous payments rarely occurs because by the time they are discovered often one of the two service companies involved no longer exist. Furthermore, the cost of having to pay two companies for one service rests on clients; who unknowingly end up paying more for a service.

For Healthcare professionals the negative effects of farming-out can become an issue of legality, as third parties not authorized to view patient data will have access to those records. Although HIPAA compliance is not applied to the Veterinary field, the concern of who is accessing patient records is equally as important to them. Aside from HIPAA compliance, all practices need to ensure EPA compliance. Victims of farming-out are unsure of who to contact when they receive EPA violations. This enables ABC Company to be blamed for noncompliance caused by XYZ Company. XYZ Company can then come to the "rescue" with abatement of violations. The victim is then unknowingly billed for "assistance" by the very company responsible for their fines.

To avoid falling victim, professionals can utilize and expand on tips from their respective colleagues. One physician notes to "look at the company vehicle". Although, executives will not sport company advertisements on their vehicles, their service technicians almost always do. Another physician suggests to "check the uniforms for some type of identification" and to "make sure it matches the company billing you". Another physician became suspicious when her service technician "failed to provide a business card displaying the correct company name". She went on to say "I should have known something was wrong. There was a different technician with every service call".

In addition we suggest you request a receipt at the time of service and match it to the bill/invoice you receive. Be mindful of the company's response times. Waiting an infinite amount of time or days for a phone call or service appointment may be due to a lag in communications between you, the company and the third party. Lastly, check with the State or Better Business Bureau for legitimate licenses and possible complaints. When all else fails, share your doubts and concerns with colleagues. They may be able to offer assistance based on their own experience and knowledge. In the end, your best line of defense is you and your ability to remain vigilant and ask a few questions.

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COPYRIGHT 2008 A Walsh Imaging, Inc.

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<a href="">Are You Being Farmed-Out?</a>: An explanation of an increasingly popular business decision in the radiography service industry and how to avoid falling victim to it.

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