If you’re a physician or other health care provider with an expanding medical practice, it pays to consider using a medical billing company. These companies handle either a large part or all of the billing paperwork of a medical practice so that doctors and office personnel are free to focus on taking care of their patients. However there are currently thousands of medical billing companies to choose from. How do you pick the right one? There’s a number of things to bear in mind when choosing a medical billing company that can help you make the right choice.
The first thing you need to determine in what type of medical billing company you’re going to use. There are three basic types (or sizes) of medical billing company, and it pays to know what they are when making a decision about which company to use.
Home-Based Medical Billing Businesses: These companies are often started by entrepreneurial types – people seeking to escape the nine to five grind. This doesn’t mean that they are to be avoided. They tend however to be fairly small scale and best suited to small to moderate sized medical practices or to temporary freelance type billing/coding/transcription jobs. Medical practices sometimes contract out billing work on a per job basis, and there can be cosiderable savings in doing it this way. The thing to keep in mind is just to make sure these small billing companies have adequate experience. Try to get a few references and consider trying the company for a job or two before commiting to it.
Also bear in mind that these business may not handle every aspect of the billing process from transcription to coding to billing and follow up. They may for instance only code and bill. So take a close look at what the company includes in their services.
Professional Medical Billing Services: These could be considered the next tier up. These are larger companies that handle much of the billing duites. The general trend these days is to include more and more in the same service. Often these companies will boast “value added” features like transcription and so on. Again though, get references and pay attention to the real services offered.
Practice Management Companies: These are the big fish. They often have 100 employees or more and have a soup to nuts approach, handling all billing and paperwork for the practice. They are often more high end price wise as well of course. Some may like to have this completely hands free service to rely on, while others would find putting that much controlo in the hands of another company to be overdoing it. Its your call and depends on the size of the medical practice, the budget, and how much administrative control a practice wants or needs.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind as you search for the right medical billing company for your needs:
Experience Level: This was mentioned above with regard to the smaller companies but it really applies to all of them. Check out how long they have been in business and make sure they aren’t something fly-by-night. The more experience they have, the more chance that they have their billing process streamlined, efficient, and reliable.
References, good record: Again, mentioned above, but it needs to be emphasized. Do at least a little research on a company before you commit to or sign anything. Do they have a good record with the Better Business Bureau? Do they have other professional affiliations? You could even try to contact people in their testimonials or ask for other customers to contact by email to see if they really are satisfied. Practically all companies put a few favorable testimonails on their website, and it doesn’t really prove too much, so try to find a real contact or two if possible. You can also just google the name of the company and try to find unbiased reviews – i.e. reviews that are not disguised sales pitches made by affiliates or whoever.
No hidden charges: You’ll want to know that all the charges are disclosed upfront. When in doubt simply email the company and ask if there are any hidden fees. You can also read the terms and consditions.
Billing turnaround time – Guaranteed? A lot of these companies promise fast billing submission and payment from insurance carriers. This is what you want. But try to make sure these aren’t just empty claims. Ask them if they guarantee these times and any other parts of their service. A guarantee will promise a refund or some other form of rectification of the situation if a company doesn’t live up to its promises.
Adjustment rate of 20-30% or lower: This is the percentage of bills that are initially rejected and/or altered by an insurance company. You want most of the bills being submitted to be paid without too much problem. So try to ask about and verify this rate from a company.
Good (fast) customer service? Again, this is an area to look for information about in unbiased review sites. Does the company provide fast and curteous customer service? These often go together. Companies that place a high value on sutomer satisfaction will also respond quickly to issues and do so curteously.
24 hour access to data: The vast majority of billing companies these days have a full online presence, espcially professional billing and practice management companies. You’ll want to know that you can get access to the status of claims and other information on a 24 hour basis. This will allow you to be in close contact with the service at times when its convenient for you rather than for them. This can head off a lot of potential problems and miscommunications.
Selecting a medical billing company is definitely not something to just jump into. You should give it some forethought and make sure you’re selecting the right one for you on a number of levels. If you find a good company it can make your medical practice a smooth running pleasure. The wrong one can be a considerable hassle and cost you needless expense. So choose wisely.