Most medical practitioners prefer to focus on what they do best: practice. Third-party medical billing services have built an industry on letting their clients focus on their core competence. Comprehensive medical billing service plans take this strategy to the next level, shifting administrative duties to an external provider.
Medical Billing and Beyond
Buoyed by their success in boosting revenue for medical practices, many medical billing service providers are expanding their role to assume other administrative tasks as well. The growing menu of services includes:
- Revenue Cycle Management. Medical billing services can lay the foundation for timely and accurate collections by taking charge of the entire revenue cycle, from patient encounter to payment. Typically, this involves the implementation of technology that captures data about medical procedures at the time of the encounter, synchronizes this data via wireless technology, and bills the insurance company immediately.
- Medical Credentialing. The provider manages the credentialing process to ensure that the medical practitioner maintains membership in the insurance networks. Credentialing entails a knowledge of the unique requirements of each insurance company. The service submits the necessary information and materials to ensure that the practitioner receives proper authorization and payment for services.
- Contracting. A comprehensive medical billing service can negotiate contracts with insurance companies on behalf of the client. The service may compare fee schedules and negotiate specialized "carve-outs" for the practice.
- Consulting. Service providers offer consulting services to help with strategic planning for the medical business. Some specialize in helping clinics implement technological solutions such as electronic medical record-keeping.
- Facility Management. The provider maintains the facilitys interior decoration, climate control, and cleanliness.
- Marketing and Advertising. Medical billing services may offer special programs to increase a practices referral base, either by pooling their own network of clients or creating advertising and publicity campaigns.
- Accounting Services. In addition to taking charge of Accounts Receivable, a comprehensive medical billing service can maintain accounts payable, payroll, and reconciliation. In addition, the service may offer cash flow forecasting in order to help clinics prepare for capital purchases such as medical equipment.
More than a Billing Service: a Solution
As medical billing services expand their services, their role is evolving from third-party contractor to long-term business partner. One billing service owner describes his service as "a virtual extension of a healthcare practice." He explains: "We integrate ourselves in almost every facet of running a practice," and as such, "We have realized long-term partnerships instead of the standard third-party vendor relationship." Such a partnership enables medical clinics to streamline operations and in many cases, cut overhead costs. These billing solution partners can also help physicians expand their business by developing a prudent and sustainable growth strategy.
With new healthcare regulations and technology on the horizon, medical billing and administration is bound to grow more complicated. Billing service providers are prepared to help medical clinics through the inevitable growing pains with a full suite of administrative solutions.