Checklist for finding a billing service

Hiring a billing service is a big commitment for your physicians because the office’s cash flow will be entrusted to an outsider. Before the practices you work with choose a vendor, help them find a company that is both reputable and competent.

Parente Consulting’s Barbara Pilborough recommends that any outsourcing decision be made only after the practice has completed the checklist below:

Get background information on the company. Who owns the company, and how long have they been the owners? Research the owners’ financial histories by obtaining credit reports.

Examine the company’s billing software, especially its reporting capabilities. For example, will it provide you with accounts receivable aging reports in a format that is easy to follow?

Check hardware capabilities. Can a terminal be added in your office for account inquiries? Is the vendor equipped for electronic billing?

Determine limits of vendor authority. Read the vendor’s contract carefully to determine how much authority the vendor seeks over collections and write-offs. For example, don’t allow a vendor to litigate an account without permission of the practice. Seek amendments to the contract if the authority sought is more than you are comfortable delegating.

Gauge the manager’s level of billing knowledge. Have the manager define the company’s daily billing and collections routine. Have the manager review your superbill or patient encounter forms and payer statements of account. Is the manager conversant regarding your practice’s commonly used codes? Remember that this person will be reviewing your physicians’ coding.

Review the company’s billing policy. Find out whether invoices are due on demand, for example. Are the company’s policies compatible with those your practice has used in the past?

Ask for references. When you get a list of references, check each of them. Ask about their satisfaction with all aspects of the billing company’s performance.

Source: Parente Consulting, Philadelphia.