Written Tests Can Help You Hire the Best Employees

Finding and keeping good employees is essential to maintaining a healthy practice. Too often, physicians don't take a diagnostic approach to judging applicants. These tests can be done in the office: No referral needed!

A primary care physician orders scores of tests every week. These tests are useful because they tell more about a patient's condition than a physician can see, feel or hear. But patients aren't the only ones who need testing.

Managed care has made it imperative that practices improve efficiency and minimize overhead. The quality of your staff can help or harm the bottom line. But when you hire ancillary staff for both the clinical and business sides of the practice, do you go beyond an interview? A pre-employment test won't tell you everything — it won't reveal punctuality and cordiality with patients, for example — but it can help to weed out those whose technical skills are unsatisfactory.

Better than an impromptu oral quiz, a written test levels the ground among candidates, and also allows you to ask questions that might be insulting in their level of difficulty to some well-qualified candidates.

Keith C. Borglum and Diane M. Cate, partners in Professional Management and Marketing in Santa Rosa, Calif., have developed 38 tests to screen applicants and published them in The Medical Practice Preemployment Tests Book, which includes several application forms, suggestions on other ways to screen applicants and a computer diskette containing the tests.

"These tests were designed to test functional skills and training as they pertain to specific medical practice job descriptions," says Borglum. For each of 31 job titles (from account manager to X-ray technician), he and Cate suggest which of the 38 tests is appropriate — as few as six for a supply clerk, as many as 17 for a physician's assistant.

We've selected two tests related to billing and insurance because all practices have employees who handle billing and insurance, whereas not all have PAs, midwives or transcriptionists.

These tests are from The Medical Practice Preemployment Tests Book by Keith C. Borglum and Diane M. Cate, printed with the permission of the publisher, Practice Management Information Corp. (PMIC), 3727 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 300, Los Angeles, CA 90010; (800) 633-7467.


Applicant Name _________________________________

Date ___________________________________________

Grade __________________________________________

For each of the following circle "True" or "False":

1. A patient who is not satisfied with treatment does not have to pay.

        True        False

2. If the divorce decree states that the father is
responsible for medical bills, you may not pursue the mother if she brings the child in for treatment.

        True        False

3. You may not call a patient after 8 p.m.

        True        False

4. You must accept a $5 payment from a patient no matter how large the bill is.

        True        False

5. If you are a participating provider for an HMO or PPO, there is nothing you can do if you are not happy with the plan's determination of payment.

        True        False

6. You may not call patients at work.

        True        False

7. Checks that are postdated are illegal.

        True        False

8. You must wait at least 30 days before turning past-due accounts over to collection.

        True        False

9. You may not turn a patient's account over for collection without first informing him.

        True        False

10. You may not charge insurance companies for additional information.

        True        False

11. If the insurance company says you are charging more than is "usual and customary," there is nothing you can do.

        True        False

12. You may not charge interest on medical bills.

        True        False

13. The only person you may speak to regarding the debt is the patient.

        True        False

14. If a patient owes you money, you may withhold transferring medical records until he pays you.

        True        False

15. You may not run credit checks on your patients without their permission.

        True        False

16. It's illegal to sue on a medical debt.

        True        False



Applicant Name _________________________________

Date ___________________________________________

Grade __________________________________________

Circle the correct answer:

1.A nonparticipating provider for Medicare may charge:

a)his/her usual fees

b)the prevailing fee for his/her area and specialty

c)his/her limiting fee

d)only what Medicare will allow

2.If a physician is a participating provider for Medicare, he/she may collect :

a)his/her limiting fee

b)his/her usual fees

c)20% of allowed fees

d)amount applied to deductible

e)C & D

3.If a physician is a nonparticipating provider for Medicare, assignment must be accepted on:

a)all diagnostic tests

b)all hospital charges

c)all lab charges

d)does not have to accept assignment on any charges

4.When a physician belongs to a PPO, he/she:

a)bills the PPO and then bills the patient for any balance due

b)must write off all noncovered charges

c)must write off difference from what was billed and what was paid

d)none of the above

5.For billing private insurance plans, "accept assignment" means:

a)the office accepts what the insurance pays as payment in full

b)payment comes to the office, but the balance can be billed to the patient

c)only deductibles or copayments may be billed to the patient

d)none of the above

6.You may never collect money from a Medicaid patient.

        True        False

7. Medicare is requiring all physicians to accept assignment.

        True        False

8. An HMO insurance plan often utilizes a gatekeeper. Which definition most closely describes the gatekeeper?

a)the utilization review division at the HMO

b)the primary care physician

c)the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA)


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