Two Day Training in Our Office – Update

We just finished up another great training session with a medical biller who has been in business for two years. She and her partner already had a great start but needed help with their employees, systems, more marketing ideas, and managing the work flow. Stacey left here very excited with a notebook full of ideas to implement when she gets home.

Some of the topics Stacey wanted to cover were managing the office, determining work flow, meeting with potential providers, contracts, getting systems into place and dealing with employees.

We have one opening the week of June 23 – 25 for another two day training so if you are struggling with your business you can read more about our two day training.

Alice’s Marketing Corner – Make Your Marketing Efforts Count

Marketing your medical billing business is a very important step to running a successful medical billing business. Many new billers think that marketing consists of sending out 100 letters offering your service to providers but if you want to be successful at marketing, you need to use techniques and systems that work.

First you must recognize that the doctors are not out there waiting for you to open your business so they can send their claims electronically. You must market to find doctors. There are many different ways to market so look for something that fits your personality and wallet. Marketing is going to involve spending some money so invest wisely if you don’t have a lot to spend.

Identify your target – Are you doing specialty billing now. If you are billing for a medical specialty such as mental health it will be much less learning on your part if you target mental health providers. If you try to take on ambulance billing now you will find you have a lot to learn about the subject. Whether you are advertising, mailing out information or making phone calls, stick to your specialty.

Use a great headline – No matter what method you use for your marketing, you will have a headline. In an email it is the subject line. In an advertisement it is the top line in large print. In a letter it is your first sentence. Work on this headline to keep it brief, to the point and it tells the reader about a benefit they will receive.

Give them an offer – Make sure you offer something to them. You can offer a free consultation or a lunch for the staff but offer something compelling so they answer your effort.

Track your efforts – If you don’t keep track of what your results are from each marketing effort you will be throwing money away when you market in the future. You need to know what works and what didn’t work. Sometime something very small will change the outcome in a big way.

Follow up – Make sure you follow up on all offers. If you said in your letter that you will call back to see if they would like to set up an appointment then make sure you make that call. I remember getting something in the mail that sounded very interesting and said they would follow up on it in a week. I thought great! I’ll talk to them then. But I never got a call back and I didn’t call them either. So make sure you follow up on any marketing efforts.

Billing for an Individual Provider Under a Group

We often get questions about billing for providers who are working for a group. It is important to understand not only the difference between the rendering provider NPI and the billing provider NPI, but also how the provider is set up with each insurance carrier.

It is not simply enough to put the rendering provider’s individual NPI in the rendering provider NPI box, which is box 24J on the CMS form, and the group NPI in the billing provider information box, box 33a on the CMS form. You must also make sure that the provider’s individual NPI is linked to the group NPI with each insurance carrier.

It is not simply enough for the provider to be credentialed with the insurance carrier. Their individual NPI must also be linked to the group’s NPI if the payment is to be made to the group. For example, say a provider is in network with their local BCBS but they are set up individually under their ss# and their individual NPI. Then they decide to work part time for another group. The group they are working for cannot simply bill BCBS with that provider’s individual NPI in the rendering provider field and their group NPI in the billing provider field and expect payment to be made to the group. Even if the provider is par with BCBS. The group must notify BCBS that the provider will be working for the group, in addition to their private practice. BCBS will link the provider’s individual NPI to the group’s NPI.

It is important to make sure that all providers that a group will be billing for are set up correctly with the insurance carriers. Not having it set up correctly can cause huge problems with the billing and can really mess up the accounts receivables. Understanding how the NPI’s work is the key.

The rendering provider NPI is the individual NPI of the provider who performed the services on the patient being billed. The billing provider NPI is the NPI of the person or entity that should be paid for the services. In some cases the rendering provider NPI and billing provider NPI is the same. In some cases, a rendering provider may have multiple billing provider NPI’s. They may have a private practice which has it’s own NPI and they may work for another group or clinic that has a different billing NPI. As long as the insurance carriers have the provider set up correctly on their files, it doesn’t matter.

If you are billing for a provider or group, and you are not sure if the all of the provider’s NPI’s are set up correctly, you should call the insurance carriers to confirm. It is always better safe than sorry.

How a Website Can Benefit Your Business

Time was when owning a website for your business was a luxury and you were a visionary, but now today in 2010 owning a website has become a necessity. We look for everything on the web – phone numbers, addresses, directions, shopping, competition, ideas, weather, even ordering pizza! Whenever a question arises in our office, we “google” it. The internet has become indispensable. People rely on it for everything.

Maybe you have been thinking about getting a website for your office or your billing service but don’t know how to start. If you don’t have a website yet but have been considering it, now is the time to get started. People are looking for you on the web and you are not there.

A medical office can use a website for many things. Hours of operation, services provided, information about your specialty, and information about the providers are just a few of the basics you can offer on a website. It’s also a great place to educate the public about your specialty. Maybe you offer a new treatment that isn’t available elsewhere and you need to get the word out. A downloadable intake sheet can be added to a website so a new patient can have this document all completed before they come into the office.

A website can even be set up to sell products. If you offer products in your office you can also offer these products on your website. Orders can go directly into a shopping cart. Many chiropractors offer various products in their offices such as supplements, pillows and Biofreeze. These could be sold thru their website as well as from the office.

Some providers also like to offer a monthly newsletter. The website is a great place for patients to sign up to receive the newsletter. For providers who have patients that need to return regularly this is a great way to keep their name in the patient’s mind.

Many of us would like to have a website but just don’t know how to go about it. Should you try to build it yourself or should you hire it done. Much depends on your situation. Building a website has become easier and easier. You can even build a website for almost no cost. You can also have a professional website built for you for a few hundred dollars. Here are some of the things to consider.

• Are you a quick learner and able to get around the internet fairly easily?
• Do you have a good idea of what you want on your website or do you need help deciding what to use?
• Will the information you put on your website be changing and requiring updates in the future? If your information is constantly changing and you hire someone else to build your site, how much do they charge to update the site? If you plan on building it yourself do you have the required time to update?
• Do you have the time required to build a website yourself. You may be better off using your time in your business and hiring someone to build the website.

Whether you decide to build the site yourself or hire it done you need to sit down and make a list of all the things you want to include on the site. Check out some of your competitors sites for ideas. If you are a medical office, google “medical offices” and see what others have on their sites. Get an idea of what your pages would be called and what information you would put on each page.

It is important to decide what the purpose of your website is, and then design it from there. Basically you are working backwards. Do you want your website to attract new patients, or do you want to inform your patients what you do and who you are? Or are you a billing service and you want to use the website for marketing? It is important that you identify what you want the website to accomplish for you and then decide what you need to put on the website to do that.

Once you’ve determined the purpose you need to decide if you are going to build it yourself or hire someone. If you decide to hire someone, check with others you know who have websites. Did they hire someone? Were they satisfied? Look at their site and see if you like it. Don’t just go with the first web designer in the yellow pages. Ask the designer for some samples of their work. Not all designers are the same. Think of clothing designers. There are some out there that have beautiful clothes and there are some you probably wouldn’t be caught dead in. You don’t want a web designer that has a style that doesn’t fit you. Whether you build it yourself or hire it out, once you decide you need a website, go for it.

Fake It Till You Make It

We have had some interesting posts on our forum lately. One phrase that keeps popping up is “fake it till you make it”. The forum is a great place to go to get help whether you are an experienced biller or you are new to this field. With over 3000 members we get to learn the answers to each others questions and challenges. It’s almost like taking a class in problems that arise in medical billing offices large and small. You get to talk to others who have the same challenges to overcome that you and I are facing. Some readers already have experience in the problem you may be encountering and are happy to share their experience.

Almost every question posted on the forum is answered by more than one person. A big thank you to all our readers and posters who add such flavor to our pet project. Michele logs into the forum at least once a day and responds to any questions she can answer. Michele has been in the medical billing field over 20 years and has encountered many different situations. I may be a little prejudiced being Michele is my daughter, but she can answer a lot of questions.

Someone was commenting on a post asking what may have sounded to some as a stupid question. Our philosophy on that is that no question is stupid. The question is better asked and the answer learned. If you need the answer to that question then you need to ask the question. The comment indicated that billing services get a bad name because of the ones that don’t know what they are doing and “fake it till you make it”. Good billing services don’t like bad billing services giving them a bad name.

Unfortunately in this field you will never learn all there is to know. There is always something new to learn – either a new change in the way things are being done or a new specialty you’ve never billed. So at what point do you “make it”? I don’t believe in guessing your way through problems, but a lot of beginners and seasoned billers have questions and need a place for answers.

I hate to see beginning billers discouraged and quit when they could have succeeded with a little help. Starting a medical billing business can be very discouraging at times. Day after day can go by without a client. Or problem after problem can arise after you get that first client. We remember those days. We had no place to go for help. We remember what that was like. We’ve been working on systems to help billers who need help. In fact, we’ve decided to start an email and telephone support system for billers who need help. Whether your problem is how to get more clients, why your provider isn’t getting paid, whether a modifier would be appropriate (we’re not suggesting a biller add a modifier on their own without the provider indicating it) or which clearing house should you use, you will be able to either email or call us to help solve your problem.

Our medical billing forum offers a great place to go ask those questions. We often find solutions to some of our own challenges on our forum. Other ways to learn what you need to know to succeed are; to take a medical billing course and/or learn to research frequently. If you don’t have any background in medical billing, you are going to need to take a course in medical billing or at least have a place to get answers. There is just so much to learn in this field.

If you do have a background in medical billing that you can research many answers. Our forum is a good place to ask. And as Charlene says “Make Google your friend”. Learn to Google everything. If you don’t find it by Googling, you can try another search engine like Bing. Most people are amazed when they learn how to use Google efficiently. We Google many times a day looking for a telephone number or address or to research something. It is an amazing tool.

I am by no means suggesting that anyone can do this business, and that no background or experience is required. But I am saying that if only people who already know everything there is to know about medical billing start medical billing businesses there won’t be many out there. Some people enter this field because they think they can make a lot of money without a lot of work. That’s BS, and those are the people who give billing services a bad name. But an intelligent, hard working, determined, conscientious, honest, etc etc person can learn what they need to know and become a very successful billing service. No one should ever ‘fake it till they make it’ but they should admit what they don’t know, and go out and learn what they need to in order to do it.