Why Use a Medical Billing Service?
If you're in charge of the medical billing process at your practice, then you know it's not always a simple task. Maybe insurance companies constantly deny or reject your claims. Maybe you find you're spending too much time and money on making sure codes are accurate and patient statements are up-to-date. Maybe you're starting a new practice, and you have enough responsibilities already beyond keeping track of payments so they don't fall into obscurity.
For many practices, outsourcing the billing process to a medical billing service helps redirect staff resources to taking better care of patients. It also generally increases the amount of accepted claims and payments, meaning you are paid more with less worry. The best medical billing services can help make meeting national regulations, such as the ICD-10 coding transition and Meaningful Use Stage 1 and Stage 2 certification, an easier and smoother process for your practice. You'll keep your payments from being interrupted, meet the qualifications for incentives and avoid penalties and fees.
We've looked at available medical billing services, and in our research, we've found that solutions like AdvancedMD, Kareo and Precision are the best at taking care of your billing processes. We also have several articles on medical billing services that go into further detail on the overall process of getting your practice paid.
Medical Billing Services: What to Look For
As you look for the best medical billing solution for your office, you'll want to focus on the companies with extensive experience in working with patient information and insurance claims. Billing errors can cause significant problems for your practice and patients, so you want a service that has tools in place to minimize claim rejections and denials. You'll also want one that stays up to date with the newest government regulations, so you can keep your office functions current and avoid penalties. Look for medical billing services that perform well in the following categories:
Medical billing services typically provide software to make it easy for you to gather information and send it to the service. Any software you use that stores and transmits patient information needs to be compliant with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy guidelines. Additionally, look for services actively preparing for the ICD-10 coding transition. They should have a detailed plan for testing and early software updates. The transition will likely be expensive, so a service that offers free upgrades for its software will save you money.
Other features to look for include software and data hosting, either on the service's servers or in the cloud. When the service hosts your software and data off-site, you'll generally get faster and often free updates, regular backups and little to no upfront fees. You also won't have to worry about your office hardware failing and delaying your patient care. A program that lets you see instant reports on how your practice is doing will help you keep close watch on the financial side of the practice.
The main reason to look for a billing service is to free up your staff and clinical resources while still making sure your practice stays financially sound. The modern billing process is complicated. Some patient accounts require multiple claims submitted to primary, secondary and even tertiary insurances. A good billing service will handle all claim submissions and will scrub your claims for problems before submitting them, reducing the chance an insurance company might deny or reject them. A top billing service will also take care of follow-ups with clients and unpaid accounts. Some will even manage patient calls about billing.
The daily operations of your practice often go hand in hand with the billing process. Therefore, most services offer practice management (PM) and electronic health records (EHR) programs with their services, or their billing process will integrate with your current systems. Good programs will let you take care of appointment scheduling and easy patient charting. The EHR should also be certified to help you meet Meaningful Use Stage 1 or Stage 2 standards.
Help & Support
The best medical billing services offer you a variety of resources and support to help make your responsibilities in the billing process easier and more efficient. Most will have customer representatives who can answer your questions by phone, email and live chat. Others offer various online support resources, such as videos and written how-to guides. Some of the best will assign specific consultants to your account, so you can get personalized answers to your questions and regular suggestions on how to improve your revenue intake.
With the above features in mind, you can evaluate the top medical billing services to determine which one can best process your patients' claims. Once you hire the right billing service, you will be able to rest easy, knowing that you're meeting new regulations and that you'll have more time and resources to devote to caring for your patients.