From time to time readers ask about the wisdom of hiring medical billing services to help deal with what can become the bane of any practice: too many accounts receivables and too few dollars in the revenue stream.
A good medical billing service can be a boon to your practice, because its staff: know the billing codes of the different carriers; stay up-to-date on changing rules and regulations; and do follow-up when a claim is delayed or denied. As such, you’re likely to get more claims paid, in a shorter amount of time, while allowing your staff to handle other matters in the office.
But medical billing services need to be hired with care. Currently you can outsource to three different types of services: at-home workers, CPAs who do billing as part of their services, and medical billing companies. Some at-home workers are excellent, but the profession is now being advertised as a “get-rich-quick” home business opportunity, so it’s best to look for someone who has had real training in the area, is certified, and understands your particular specialty. If you’re hiring a CPA to do your billing, make sure he or she truly knows the business — and can spend the time necessary to do it thoroughly. And if you’re signing on with a medical billing services company, look for an established company with a low turnover in staff and, again, experience in your specialty. You don’t want a fly-by-night outfit handling your billing.
How much does it cost? Some medical billing services charge a flat monthly fee. Others charge as much as eight percent of your claims. It’s possible that you could hire an in-house employee for less than that, but remember that you’ll also have to pay to train that person (and his or her replacement down the line), as well as buy billing software (or a subscription to an online billing service) if you don’t already have it. If you decide to keep the billing in-house, you’ll also need to have a lot of confidence that your employee is leaving no rock unturned in the quest for getting reimbursement.
Of course, hiring an outside consultant also requires trust—which is why you need to be very careful about who you hire. Talk to your colleagues, interview several different people, and watch whoever you hire with care. You only want to spend the money on an outside service if it really helps your practice boost its profits.