STARTING A MEDICAL BILLING BUSINESS

Medical Billing and Coding Software
Comparing and Choosing the Perfect Package

Learn all about medical billing and coding software. What it is, why it's needed, how to choose the right electronic package for you, and overviews of popular options...
  
Doctor's offices rely heavily on the speed and efficiency of medical billing software.

Handling patient information electronically makes data entry for medical diagnosis and procedure codes easier. Turnaround for the payment of medical claims is also a lot faster.

For those of you considering a career in medical billing and coding, mastering medical billing and coding software is essential for getting any kind of employment in the field.

You may want to begin by looking at this step-by-step medical billing software walkthrough, which describes the steps taken in most software packages to enter new patient information and bill claims.

 Features of medical billing software programs

Medical billing and coding software packages have a number of similar features
Connectivity: A typical medical billing software program runs on a Windows-based operating system with minimal system requirements.

More comprehensive packages require purchasing modules which provide specialized features that enhance the functionality of the overall program.

Some packages are web-based and run on a remote server. This lets you connect 24/7, 365 days a year from any remote location.

Functionality: A basic medical billing and coding software program allows you to:

*          register and schedule patients
*          enter insurance information
*          enter claims and charges
*          send claims to insurances
*          enter patient and insurance payments.
See our explanation of why medical appointment scheduling software is necessary for more information. The article also has a basic guide to scheduling appointments.

Other specialized systems are Electronic Medical Records (EMR) or Electronic Health Records (EHR), which are electronic versions of paper charts. These systems require portable computers and terminals in addition to the software itself.

If you switch to using web-based EMR, your office may be eligible for government incentives. See the guide to web-based EMR implementation incentives to see your office's eligibility and potential stimulus.

Modern billing software systems are HIPAA compliant and have the most up-to-date security standards in place to accept and store patient information. See the page on HIPAA compliant medical billing software for more information.

The best software includes built-in data encryption and security levels to be used by appropriate personnel working in the doctor's office.
  
Choosing your software

Choose your medical billing software depending on what your practice needs
The software that you ultimately choose will depend on the needs of your practice, including:

daily patient load
billing and coding
and the number of doctors.
The biggest thing you need to determine is which modules you need to perform all of your necessary daily functions, and your budget. The number of different modules on your software usually corresponds to the price of the software.

For example, if you only purchase a demographics and scheduling software, the price will be much lower than if you purchased software with full practice management functionality.

Furthermore, each software package is designed to work on only a specified amount of computers.

If you buy a single-user software, it means that the software will only work on one single computer. If, however, you need the software to function on 10 computers, then you will have to pay more for the added user-functionality.

You also need to factor in the ability of your software to change with your practice, such as:

The price of adding new modules
Can you add new doctors to the system and delete old doctors?
Can you split into multiple locations?
If you find that you do not need a module, can you have it removed from your software?
It can be tricky to know whether or not you're getting a good price for your software. We have a guide to medical billing software prices which explains how this kind of software is usually priced, and what you can expect to pay over the long-term (it's normally always more than the initial cost!).


So which one do you choose?

Choosing the right software can easily become one of the most confusing, time consuming, and stressful things you have ever done. And if you need the software to begin your billing service or practice, it can often be a crazy and demanding situation.

Keep in mind your special needs. Keep a notepad of all the things that you MUST have for your medical billing or practice management software, and a list of things you only WANT, but can live without.

Ultimately, your software choice should remind you of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. You may have to try a few out, but eventually you'll find the one that's just right.

You may find this short guide to comparing packages and choosing the best medical billing software useful.

There are many low-cost options if you're starting out. This guide to cheap medical billing software has overviews of popular, affordable packages.

We've compiled a list of medical billing software overviews, and rated each package according to a number of criteria. You may find this resource useful in making a purchase decision.


Specialist software

If you need to bill for a chiropractor, this list of the top chiropractic medical billing software packages should be useful in making a decision.

If you work in a hospital setting, it is strongly recommended that you use special software. This page explains why, and how to choose hospital billing software that matches your needs.

Durable medical equipment billing also requires different software. This article explains how to find the right DME medical billing software.

The Texas Health Information Network is a widely-used electronic transaction system and clearinghouse. Find out if THIN medical billing software is right for your office in this overview.

   Top Medical Billing Software Products

What's the True Cost of Medical Billing Software?

February 22nd, 2011 by Joann Doan


Marketing Medical Billing

Marketing Medical Billing services is essential to success. Use effective marketing strategies to land your first client and increase the income of your Medical Billing Home Business.
When I first started, my husband and I mailed out over 500 flyers and surveys in metro Atlanta. We got no responses. Was it because there wasn't a demand for medical billing services in metro Atlanta? No. It's because we didn't put a lot of thought into marketing medical billing EFFECTIVELY . Our fliers were not very compelling. We were so eager to get started we took the ready-fire-aim approach to marketing.
In marketing medical billing by mail, I've found you need a way to compel prospective clients to take action. Probably the most effective way is to offer something free if they respond, or make them aware of upcoming industry changes. A free assessment of their superbills or practice analysis is a good example. HIPAA has also presented good opportunities to inform practices what the issues are, how they effect them, and how you can help.

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) is United States legislation that provides data privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information.

Marketing is critical to growing your business. Consider it a part of normal operating costs and effort. Just like other service businesses, there is turnover. Doctor’s retire, die, combine with other practices, quit, change services, and decide to bring their billing back in house – you name it. So it’s important to always get your company’s name out there.
Get the Message Out
Probably one of the most ways of marketing medical billing is by word-of-mouth. Get the message out about who you are and what you have to offer. The most effective method is talking to people in the profession, insiders at your target organizations, colleagues, co-workers (and former), and friends.
How often have you bought a service based on the recommendation of someone you trust? Word-of-mouth is still one of the best forms of advertising. You need to get your message out frequently and consistently to as many people as possible.
Target having 20 to 30 conversations with people a week. Mention your qualifications, gather information, and develop contacts. These contacts are important to get information on those who may be looking for a billing service.
Get your message into conversations. You don't have to be overbearing or annoying with it - just mention it and see where it leads.
Use Google
Marketing medical billing for free! For most people it's easier to look for a service on Google than thumb through the phone book. Google has a local business center where you can enter information about your business and services. When someone searches for your a medical billing business on Google, it will show all the businesses in the area on a map. If you have a web site you can enter a link here also. Click here for more info on Google's Local Business Center

Marketing Medical Billing - Build a Website
This has been a real eye opener for me. I didn't realize how effective a website could be until creating this one. Here's my story of how this website has grown and is starting to become a business of it's own.
Like mentioned above, a lot of people use Google or Yahoo to search for medical billing services. A website is a good way to compliment your medical billing marketing.
When used on your business cards and marketing, it allows you to give more detailed information on your services, qualifications, and explain why they need your services. You can build a site that markets your services AND generates income through affiliates and Google Adsense - like this website.
Offer something free
When you give people something, especially in a low-key way, it seems to make them a lot more receptive.
One of my approaches to medical billing marketing is to target several practices that look like good candidates to outsource their billing. I get something good from my local bakery like donuts, chocolate chip cookies - something most people like. Those in the front office are much more open when you give them something and it helps get a conversation started. You may be surprised what doors will open. I got my largest client this way.
Other Freebie's for marketing medical billing to offer:
·                            A code review. For small offices who don't have knowledgeable coders offer to review codes to identify which codes are out of date. Estimate lost revenue due to these outdated or incorrect coding.
·                            A Practice Analysis showing the economic benefits of outsourcing billing functions.
·                            A review or consultation of their office practices for HIPAA and OIG compliance. This is where educating yourself on industry changes can really help.

Office of Inspector General's (OIG) mission is to protect the integrity of Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) programs as well as the health and welfare of program beneficiaries.
If you are really desperate you can offer your services for a discount for a set period of time to prove the value of your service. 

Remember you're in this for the long run so if you make enough to cover your expenses you are basically getting free medical billing training. This gives you a chance to prove yourself and demonstrate how you can increase practice revenues.
Offer a discount or referral fee to an existing client for a referral that successfully leads to signing another provider. This can be in the form of a discounted percentage for a month or three, or a fixed discount. Signing up another client will more than pay for this.
Become an expert
Subscribe to industry and insurance newsletters. Some of the major insurance companies such as BCBS and Medicare are excellent sources to educate yourself on changes in the industry that could affect your clients. Know what's going on in the industry and pending or upcoming changes such as HIPAA, Office of Inspector General, ICD-10, etc.
Knowledge is Power! When you get in front of potential clients, that’s your opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of the issues affecting physician reimbursement. Believe me – when it comes to making money, most doctors are all ears. They are frustrated with the way insurance companies operate.
Physician Lists
For marketing medical billing by mail or phone I've found a good resource for physician Listings are the Little Yellow Book and the Little Blue Book from WebMD. The Little Yellow Book lists physicians alphabetically with with fax and some email addresses and indicates their specialty. The Little Blue Book lists physicians alphabetically with address, telephone number, specialty, and NPI number. These are printed for each metropolitan area. Available from www.tlbb.com at about $30 each.
A National Provider Identifier or NPI is a unique 10-digit identification number issued to health care providers in the United States by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Another source is insurance company web sites. For most of the large carriers, you can search for providers by location and specialty.
There are services that sell physician lists but I haven't found them to be very useful - especially for the cost.
Great Marketing Medical Billing Resources
Here's some great economical resources for marketing medical billing business:
 
One of the biggest challenges when starting your business is getting your first client. I've found this book is relevant even for marketing new clients for my established business. Learn everything you need before that all important first face to face meeting with a client. 
 
A very timely marketing book with effective ideas for your medical billing service. Whether you're a new billing service just starting out or the established billing service trying to growth in this NEW and challenging economy. This 84 page book gives you new fresh ideas for getting appointments, signing up new clients, and teaches you new methods that are more effective and quicker than traditional marketing techniques. 
 
Great ideas and how-to on starting and marketing medical billing services. When I read Alice and Michele's book, I find myself nodding in agreement. They obviously know what they are talking about as evidenced by their successful business. Learn how to find new doctors, what the “Porsche Drawer” effect is, and how to use it in marketing your business. I still use this as a guide for ideas to market my own business. 
A great deal that includes both books above is Medical Billing Home Business in a Box. This package includes several other books for learning medical billing and starting a business.
This collection of medical billing books includes the following:
·                            How to Start Your Own Successful Medical Billing Business
·                            12 Marketing Strategies To Grow Your Medical Billing Business
·                            How To Complete a CMS 1500 (HCFA 1500) Completely and Correctly - Line By Line Box By Box
·                            Secrets to Signing Up Your First Doctor
·                            Basics of Medical Billing
·                            Getting Started Workbook
·                            "Big Pack" of Completed CMS 1500 Practice Forms
·                            50 Blank New CMS 1500 Forms
·                            Plus 3 special reports
·                            Get claim form info: PDF File
I wish this package was available when I was getting started. It would have saved me a lot of time and money.

Remember - You Offer a Valuable Service
As a medical biller it's important to understand the value you add to a practice's bottom line in marketing medical billing services. Many doctors have not had proficient billers so they don't know how much revenue they are missing out on.
When you get in front of a potential client, it's important to educate them on what you do. How many times has their biller been on the phone with an insurance company or Medicare for 45 minutes finding out why a claim wasn't paid? How many stacks of old unpaid or returned CMS 1500 forms do they have laying around because of the wrong insurance ID, a typo, wrong birth date, etc.
Find What Works Best for You
Not every medical billing marketing technique will work well for your situation. It depends on your personality - go with what you're comfortable with. I've found that methods that work great for others don't necessarily work well for me. I've had a lot more success in marketing face-to-face verses phone calls and mail outs. Try several methods until you find what works for you.