6 Tips for Selecting a Billing Services Company

Becky OtisFor a busy ambulatory surgery center, trying to become an expert in many different areas is very difficult. This is a lesson we learned within a year of opening.

As a multispecialty center, with approximately 45 percent orthopedic, collecting dollars on implants can be a difficult and time-consuming process. As we watched our accounts receivables (A/R) climb, with all of our specialties, it was clear we needed help. With a checklist in hand of what we wanted in a billing partner, we looked at a variety of companies. After much due diligence, we selected SourceMedical's ASC Billing Services. Within a relatively short period of time, we went from 100 (sometimes 120) A/R days to 40 (occasionally 30) A/R days. We are collecting revenue much quicker and couldn't be prouder of our numbers.

For other surgery centers considering outsourcing their billing, the following tips are things you'll want to consider during your search.

1.    Inquire about staff. Prior to selecting a billing services company, it is important to do your research. Look for a company that has very little turnover. Otherwise, unnecessary strain will be put on your administrator (and A/R) as the administrator will be required to spend unnecessary time repeatedly bringing new billing staff up-to-speed. Look for a company that does not offshore services, it will make life much easier on your staff and eliminate any unnecessary communication delays.

2.    Look for coders who have ASC experience. Coding for an ASC is not the same as it is for a physician practice. Look for a company that uses certified coders who have ASC experience. Ideally you will want a company that offers specialists in your area of expertise. For example, orthopedics and implant billing, workers comp, etc. Pair the specialists as much as you can for your center.

3.    Have realistic expectations. When making the move to a billing services company, it is unrealistic to assume the results will be immediate. There will be a learning curve as you and your billing services company learn to work together. Communicating your expectations upfront will help create a more seamless process. Be patient and work closely with the company to make sure they are following the processes you want them to follow. Within a matter of weeks you will be out of the reactionary stage and into a stage where the A/R is flowing nicely.

4.    Take a team approach. To be successful, your billing department should be considered an extension of your team, and you theirs. You want a company that treats your payments as if they are their payments. Encourage an open line of communication so that questions easily can be addressed; it will help you avoid potential future issues.  While not necessary, I have found much value in day-to-day interactions with our billing company. Utilize your billing team for information and education. In the end, a collaborative team approach will prove much more successful than operating as if you are two independent entities.  

5.    Request monthly reports. Hard data will allow you to see where your A/R dollars stand. If there is very little in the 120 days or greater bucket, things are going smoothly. Monthly reports will allow you to see where issues lie for quicker resolution (i.e. with the patient or insurance company). With information on hand you will be able to ask the right questions and ensure any A/R issues are addressed

6.    Don't forget to benchmark. Benchmarking analysis will help you determine the value of your billing service provider and if what you are doing in terms of billing is successful. Benchmarks provide meaningful comparable data points to help you better understand variances in A/R.  Becker's ASC and Intellimarker offer free downloadable benchmarking analysis tools. Benchmarks should be done on a monthly basis to make sure you are hitting, or are better than, the national averages.

More Articles on Surgery Centers:
ASC M&A Activity: 4 Big Trends for 2014

10 Things to Know About Orthopedics

OIG Report: ASCs Save Medicare, Beneficiaries Billions

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