Let’s face it, we are in the health profession because we want to help people. But those of us in private practice are also running a business, and therefore need to set up systems to manage billing and health insurance in order to get paid for the work that we do. As a private practice coach and health professional business consultant-one of the main questions my client’s face is whether to outsource their billing or use a do-it-yourself billing software.
In order to arrive at an answer that makes the most sense for them, I ask a series of nine questions to ascertain what will work best with their personality, work habits and practice goals. These questions are as follows:
- Do you enjoy learning new technology?
- Are you comfortable with, and have a successful history of using new computer programs?
- Are you organized, and able to schedule a regular time to dedicate to billing?
- Do you like, and are you efficient working with numbers and billing in your personal life?
- Are you comfortable talking with patients about insurance coverage and payments?
- What kind of customer service experience would you like your patients to have?
- Do you want to send appointment reminder emails to patients?
- Do you mind/have the time to work with insurance companies, and software companies?
- Are you familiar with, and compliant with HIPPA security guidelines necessary for secure methods of transmission of patient billing data?
An honest evaluation of the answers to these questions will really get to the heart of whether doing it yourself makes sense for you and your private practice.
For some, software programs make the most sense as the main advantages are that they can do much of what needs to be done efficiently, save some money on outsourcing billing, and doing so also allows them to more closely monitor their practice financial goals.
Others prefer a billing service that can handle these tasks for them so that they can spend more time helping patients.
Still others who use a combination of the two approaches, but have the advantages and disadvantages of both.
The bottom line is that if you do not enjoy working with software programs or doing billing- I do not recommend doing it yourself. A number of my clients that have tried using billing software programs have reported that the amount of time they put in to learning the software, coupled with having to deal with the insurance companies was simply too stressful to them.
Many of my clients have reported a number of advantages of using a good and reputable billing service such as:
- Improved customer service
- Direct contact with patient for scheduling/ sending reminder emails and/or phone calls
- Understanding and determining patient insurance benefits
- Handling pre-authorizations/cancellations
- Insurance company liaison/follow up to resolve unpaid or inaccurate insurance claims
- Reporting on billing and monitoring marketing efforts
Accordingly, some private practice practitioners use a combination of medical billing software and an outsourced billing service so they can get the benefits of each approach.
The private practice practitioner needs to weigh all these considerations when deciding whether medical billing software, and/or a medical billing service is best for them.
What has been your experience with outsourcing or billing?
Have you tried any billing management software programs that worked for you?
Does a billing service provide all the services you need and deliver quality consistently?