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The billing process can be a challenging step in the healthcare industry. Most clinics still designate an in-house staff to take care of the job. This way, all potential complications must be resolved in the clinic or facility: late payments, billing errors, etc.
To prevent the financial part from overloading the permanent staff, many medical clinic owners or managers started to outsource the billing services, handing overall responsibility to a company hired to work only with this process.
But outsourcing brings its own problems, such as difficulties in billing more complex procedures or losing control over finances. If this doesn’t seem like the best option for your clinic, take a look at these five alternatives for outsourcing your billing services.
1. Work With Medical Coders
Today, the medical billing routine is built around Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes, a standardized code used to describe healthcare professionals’ medical, surgical, or diagnostic services.
The respective CPT code must be assigned to each diagnosis and procedure performed whenever a physician treats a patient. The sum of these codes will determine the final bill amount.
The professionals themselves can do all this, but it is a big responsibility (or another one) that can overwhelm them, considering that any code error can result in a smaller or larger bill than it should be.
That’s why many clinics are hiring medical coders – trained professionals whose only job is to review medical records and then assign the proper codes for each procedure. This way, you ease the burden on doctors and nurses, who are free to provide patient care while a specialist takes on the complex part of assigning the codes for each billing.
2. Patient Registration Services
Patient registration staff are an essential part of proper medical billing. When you have people trained and dedicated only to collecting the patient information at the check-in counter, you avoid a lot of problems later on (such as wrong or outdated personal information).
Depending on the size of your clinic or independent practice, the registration staff can be an entire team or a single member responsible for just this step. They will be responsible for checking and collecting the following data:
- Patient’s personal information
- Address and other contact details (phone, email)
- Patient medical history
- Their insurance coverage
3. Implementing A Copayment System
Healthcare facilities can also use the copayment system to help with their billing processes. Copay is a flat fee stipulated by the insurer to be paid by the patient for a specific appointment or treatment. It’s usually a small part of the actual cost of the medical service.
For example: if the patient’s policy lists a copayment of twenty dollars for an appointment, the patient will pay that exact amount at the clinic or hospital in addition to the monthly policy premiums.
Such a healthcare cost-sharing system is intended to discourage patients from seeking unnecessary medical care just because they are covered by insurance.
4. In-house Medical Billing
Hiring and maintaining a medical billing team in-house is the most common alternative to outsourcing. If you plan to go down this road, be aware that an efficient internal system will require at least two trained professionals to avoid mistakes or overwork. You will also need to invest in specific software.
Although it seems like a lot of work, having an in-house billing team differs from outsourcing because of the following benefits:
- Allows you to more easily and closely supervise the billing process.
- It gives you direct control over the entire process and allows you to make any necessary changes.
- Financial monitoring is more transparent.
- You can use the clinic’s resources (computers, software, staff, etc.).
5. Electronic Medical Billing Systems
You can still do things on paper if you have a small clinic. But almost everything is digital today, and it can be advantageous to modernize your billing process using electronic medical billing systems.
Thus, bills become digital and gain in accuracy, agility, and security – something very important for a large healthcare corporation with multiple facilities and clinics. There are several options for software or digital systems. They automatically route the bills directly to patients via email, or text message, allowing payments to be made instantly via smartphone.
Using electronic medical billing systems saves your staff time. Also, it reduces the incidence of billing errors, considering that digital reports are more accurate and can be customized to your needs. You also need to understand what revenue cycle management software is to keep your healthcare facility’s finances equally healthy.
Keep Your Accounting Healthy
Medical billing can be a very stressful step. After all, healthcare is not like any other business, where you can just send the bill to the customers at the end of the day and expect them to pay upfront and in cash.
Many variables can make the billing process time-consuming, including the software you use for revenue cycle management.
Faced with many difficulties and challenges, it can be tempting to choose to outsource your billing services. But this practice will bring other obstacles, so you need to study the above alternatives before deciding.