Does Your Practice Need A Billing Service?

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Michael Forman, DPM, FACFAS

   12. How does information transfer between the practice and the service? How do the encounters transmit to the service (mail, fax, delivery service or scanner)? Scanning encounters is the most accurate and fastest method.

   13. Does your biller credential you with insurance companies? We recently moved our office from one floor to the next. Medicare alone requires a 28-page application. How can your billing service help you?

   14. Where are the backups kept? Is all of the information on your office computer and does the billing service get online access to your office? Alternately, is the information stored at the off-site location and backed up at a third location? If your financial information is only located in your office, a fire can severely cripple your practice. This is a good reason to use electronic medical records, which can keep your notes off-site.

Making Final Decisions On Your Billing Procedures

Objectively estimate what percent of your gross income the billing process consumes. Subjectively determine your willingness to handle this function in your practice.
Not all practices will benefit from outsourced billing. I recently looked at a practice with three doctors and two locations that grosses $900,000 a year. They employ one full time and one part-time employee for billing/collection. They pay considerably less than 6 percent of the gross for this entire function. In addition, the senior partner closely follows the billing and collection process. In this case, based on the numbers and personalities involved, I advised against outsourcing.

   Calculate what you are paying now, decide what involvement you or your partners are comfortable with, and then check out at least three to four billing services that handle mostly podiatry claims. Sign no more than a one-year contract. Get references. Be an intelligent consumer.

   Consider the following factors: billing expenses for one year, rental space, biller’s salary, biller’s benefits (usually 32 percent of salary), cost of statements, stationery and postage. This sum is the total cost of billing expenses. Divide your expenses by your gross income (total money received). This is your percent cost of billing. Compare that to the cost of a billing service. Factor in security, office harmony, peace of mind and training.

   Dr. Forman practices at Northern Ohio Foot and Ankle Associates and at Forman Forensic Services.

   Editor’s note: For related articles, see “InHouse Billing: Assessing The Pros And Cons” in the October 2006 issue and “Inside Secrets To DME Billing” in the January 2005 issue.

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