Tip of the week: Now is a great time to give your internal controls a check-up, says specialist medical accountant Vanessa Sanders of Stanbridge Associates.
Many businesses have buried their heads in the sand over the immediate impact of the crisis, but now is the time to ensure controls are in place to allow us comfort and security as we move forward.
Risks include things like data protection, which may fall by the wayside in an emergency, yet in fact must be retained, as there is no relaxation of rules on confidentiality of data.
In fact, these are more pertinent as cyber-crime and fraud become more prevalent due to a potentially laissez-faire approach inherent while working from home.
A crisis provides the opportunity and the economic depression cultivates the motivation for criminals. Be clear about what areas are most at risk and stress-test them.
There has been a relaxation of deadlines, but all businesses must remain compliant with regulation, whether this is continuing to adhere to the General Data Protection Regulation or submitting financial statements to Companies House. There is a continued expectation that systems remain robust.
One area which could easily be stress-tested for compliance is the integrity of financial records.
At a time when fewer transactions are taking place, systems can be reviewed to ensure the following:
- Duplication of work could be streamlined – for example, in the billing process.
- Test that coding is accurate by following through an audit trail of information from initial patient contact through to the payment of an invoice in full.
- View how long is the financial journey and if it can be executed more efficiently – for example, understanding insurer excesses and looking at ways to take deposits electronically.
- Analyse the data you could collect on your business to provide to insurers for governance or to ensure compliance with external reviewers such as revalidation.
- Produce a cash flow or budget for the future of the business which shows you if it meets your needs or, indeed, is viable.
Vanessa Sanders (right) is a partner at Stanbridge Associates Ltd. Accountancy, finance and tax advisory medical specialists