If your practice is struggling with its revenue cycle, it may be a smart decision to outsource back office operations to a medical billing company. But the billing service you select will become more than just a technology vendor – they’ll become a partner in your financial success.
It’s crucial for you to choose a medical billing service very, very carefully. Cost will naturally play a role in your decision, but it shouldn’t be the only concern you focus on as you consider your options. As part of the selection process, be sure to ask the following questions.
How much experience do you have in my specialty?
A large and highly respected medical billing service may claim to have decades of expertise, but does it understand the nuances of your particular specialty? A radiation oncology practice has a vastly different set of needs and challenges than a dermatologist.
As part of this question, you may want to also consider whether the employees of the medical billing service are certified and to ask about their preparedness for ICD-10 and its impact on your specialty.
What kind of reporting will I get?
Clearer, more accurate data on your financial performance can be one of the biggest advantages of working with a medical billing service, but if you don’t find out what kinds of reporting they provide you may miss out on this benefit altogether. Ask specific questions about the types of reporting the vendor provides and request samples of their practice dashboards and reporting.
Keep in mind whether you have special, on-demand reporting needs that the billing service must be able to meet. Establish a clear understanding of what you (and your accountant) will need in terms of financial reports and make sure they’ll be available.
How will you help us handle the transition?
One of the most difficult aspects of contracting with a medical billing service can be the onboarding process. Not only are you going to be transferring loads of data and adjusting to new systems and norms, but your staff – who may be somewhat uncomfortable with the change to an outsourced firm – could become overburdened with responsibilities related to the transition.
Look for a billing company that is willing to work with you and your staff to lessen the stress and difficulty of the transition. Ensure that they’re willing to formulate a plan that minimizes disruption to your organization and team.
What aspects of the revenue cycle do (and don’t) you handle?
Some medical billing companies can manage your entire revenue cycle and all follow-up responsibilities. Others offer more cut-and-dry billing-only services. Make sure you understand the difference!
Consider what your practice needs help with and what you’re doing well on your own. Then, make appropriate arrangements to meet your practice’s unique requirements so that you’re not paying for any services you don’t want.
Who can I call for references?
A prospective firm may say that they’ll be able to increase your financial performance… but can they back up that claim?
A reputable and effective medical billing service should have testimonials available for your review, as well as more than one happy customer available for comment. Ask for references – ideally in your specialty – who can speak to the medical billing company’s reliability and effectiveness.