30th November 2022
Outsourcing private practice medical billing and collection is often the preferred route for consultants in private practice.
Outsourcing has been a growing trend over many years, that even the pandemic failed to dent. Consultants especially favour outsourcing when they are new to private practice and want to spend more time developing their practice. There are also many benefits to outsourcing for practices of all ages and size.
Splitting medicine from money
The most important, and often overlooked, benefit from outsourcing is your medical secretary can focus on the patient’s clinical journey without having to worry about the business side of the practice.
Outsourcing allows this key relationship to remain warm and engaging as the two sides of the practice are split, leaving the billing company to focus on the financial side and difficult conversations about money.
This not only improves the patient experience, but it is often also beneficial to the practice, as the secretary has more time to respond to new and existing patient inquiries. This often translates into increases in revenue.
Years of sector expertise
The years of training that consultants go through to become experts in their field do not often prepare them for the challenges of running a business when they first venture into private practice.
Even busy established practices still can find this difficult, as procedures are not as robust as they should be and quite often not routinely followed.
Our fees are calculated against received income which means that we share the same objective as you. This means there is an inbuilt incentive to always bill the optimal amount and then ensure that these invoices are settled as soon as possible.
Remember, your time is a valuable resource and it is far more rewarding to use it more productively on patient care while leaving the billing to experts.
Reduced bad debts
Practices often face problems with cash flow arising from their outstanding debt. These challenges can be the result of a variety of reasons, including:
- Invoicing delays
- Problems with payment reconciliation
- Lack of a robust chase process
- Poor practice financial data
- Visibility of any of the above
- Limited patient payment options.
I regularly meet with practices where they have been writing off 5% in bad debts a year and sometimes even as much as 10%.
Our professional medical billing service is purely focused on billing and collection, with robust procedures in place to manage these issues and can provide you with a range of payment pathways. This ensures your bad debts are kept to a minimum. Our bad debt level is less than 0.5% across the firm.
An answer to staffing issues
Staffing issues can be hard to manage at a practice level. Outsourcing often provides a simple yet effective solution to a range of staffing issues, because a well-resourced billing company means that the vital financial side of the practice is not impacted when the secretary is on holiday or unwell.
This can be extremely beneficial with growing practices or groups where resourcing is more difficult due to the natural ebb and flow of their patient activity or group size.
Outsourcing means you always have the capacity of the billing firm on tap to meet your specific needs. Service levels are maintained as key dependency risk is eliminated.
Best left to professionals
Medical billing is a complex task requiring experience and training. There are more than 2,000 Clinical Coding and Schedule Development group (CCSD) procedure codes as well as diagnostic codes to choose from. On top of that, each insurance company has its own price list and rules in relation to how these codes can be billed, including formulas about the billing of multiple codes. The CCSD schedule is updated monthly, so keeping on top of this can be challenging.
But failure to do so can mean the practice loses out on income or, worse, result in issues with the insurers from incorrect billing.
Chasing outstanding debt requires a specific skill set and, for many medical secretaries, this is a task they do not relish, which in practice means it is often put off. A medical billing company provides a wealth of experience in this task, as it is core to what it does.
Simple way to adopt new functionality
Outsourcing can be the simplest way to provide a range of new functionality that was previously unavailable to the practice. New payment pathways often mean the patient journey is improved and so too are the practice finances.
Billing functions we offer clients include:
- E-billing of private medical insurers and patients
- 24/7 payment collection via our card portal
- Billing and collection of self-pay patients ahead of treatment
- Client self-pay platform – for collection on the day
- Settlement of all outstanding invoices in one go.
Practice financial data
A common complaint I receive from consultants is the lack of visibility about their practice financials. Many consultants do not have easy access to up to date and accurate financial data.
This is vital, as all practices rely on this information as the first step in the bill chasing process, otherwise the whole system is flawed. More importantly, without this data, consultants are not able to make informed decisions about their practice.
Our clients are given 24/7 access to full reporting tools to review their practice data via our software. Allowing them to view reports detailing:
- Amount invoiced – available at a summary or granular level
- Payments received – available at a summary or granular level
- Patient activity
- Aged debt.
Reports can be viewed based on a range of criteria including patient type, payment company and location.
What’s stopping you?
Practices give a range of reasons for delaying outsourcing. The most common is the perception of a loss of control. This is best addressed through transparency. It’s important to understand what the billing company is doing for you, so access to practice data is key to reviewing their performance. Transparency allows trust to be established – the bedrock of any partnership.
Some consultants worry about upsetting their secretary. In my experience, the billing and especially the chasing side is not something medical secretaries enjoy, and they are often happy to relinquish responsibility for this task.
Partnership is key
To establish a strong partnership with your billing company it is important to make sure you understand how it operates, its workflow and who will be responsible for your practice. Our ‘intensive care’ onboarding process is managed by a senior dedicated personal account manager whose role is to foster a good working relationship with the secretary/consultant and understand the nuances of the practice. By removing the billing and chasing functions, this allows the secretary to focus on the higher-value activity such as patient engagement, which often leads to increases in revenue.
This article was originally produced for Independent Practitioner Today.