More and more practices are moving towards electronic health record systems (EHRs) today than ever before. These medical professionals research a new EHR systems, determine which program is the best fit for their business, sign contracts and prepare for installation. But sometimes problems arise when businesses consult with their medical billing company.
What if the new EHR system isn’t compatible with their programs or the medical billing company refuses to use it? You might need to negotiate or possibly even consider a new billing company.
Communicate With Your Billing Company
If and when you consider switching to an EHR system for the first time, or switching to a new EHR system, make sure to talk with your billing company. Knowing which programs are compatible with your current billing company can save you time, money and frustration down the road.
Some billing companies will be incompatible with certain practice management systems, as they may have made investments into specific software of their own. Find out what EHR systems their services are compatible with and do your research to determine if they meet your needs. When your new EHR system and billing company aren’t compatible, the result can disrupt your cash flow, delay payments, and generally wreak havoc to your revenue stream.
Determine Whether Your Current Billing Company is Going to Be a Help or a Hindrance
Don’t simply adopt an EHR system because your current medical billing company recommends it. Just because they have invested in the software doesn’t mean that it’s the best option for your staff and your practice.
Sometimes medical billing companies will agree to use the EHR system chosen by you but at their own terms. They may offer to extract data claims and load it onto their system. Be cautious, because this can lead to duplicate information, unreliable data, and the possibility of little to access to your practice data. And since the benefit of an integrated system is that all patient and billing data is in one patient account, this undermines the entire concept and removes all its benefits.
Be ready to end your relationship with your medical billing company if necessary. Do your research on how to extract your patient information, whether there are penalties for termination, and how you will be able to access all your information and in what format. Sometimes a new billing company is necessary to ensure you get full value out of your EHR system.
Don’t Rush into Your New EHR System Overnight
It’s tempting to install your EHR system, migrate all your old accounts over, and jump right in. But this can lead to confusion and additional expenses. Go live on a scheduled rollout date, usually the first day of the month, and enter all new charges into the new system.
At the same time, plan to keep your old system in place for a few months and allow your staff to process any old receivables. Work with your old billing company for a short period of time after the transition to resolve any outstanding balances and claims.
Once most insurance claims have been paid, terminate any unnecessary relationships and move over only the necessary unresolved claims into the new EHR system and possibly the new billing company.
This slow and steady process of transitioning over to the new EHR system will ensure minimal confusion among your staff and patients. It can also help avoid any disruption of cash flow and will allow you the smoothest transition possible.
Know What to Expect and Negotiate When Necessary
Transferring to a new system means changes in programs, processes, and requirements. Sometimes fees, charges, and restrictions that were reasonable with your old system are no longer reasonable. Be prepared to know when to negotiate to reduce fees and restrictions.
When a practice moves to an EHR system and a practice management system they are also assuming costs that used to be associated with their billing company. In such an instance, you have the right to renegotiate your rates with the billing company. Examine overhead and charge-entry charges from your billing company to see if there are fees that won’t be necessary with your new system.
After negotiating a good billing contract, ensure that you have full access to the data your practice provides. You should have access to all of your account files, high-level reports, collections data, and individual entries. These figures and entries help produce the most accurate reports and diagnose the health of your practice.
The bottom line is this: If you determine that outsourcing your medical billing is your best option, you should also get full value out of the new EHR and practice management system.
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