EMS billing isn’t for the faint of heart. While patient care is the core mission of any EMS organization, it’s impossible to provide adequate care without resources provided by a healthy revenue stream.
Billing Isn’t Just Paperwork
Agencies that handle their billing in-house, rather than outsourcing EMS billing to a third-party vendor, are in fact running two business. Ambulance transport and EMS billing are different enterprises with different requirements for staffing, IT infrastructure, compliance, operational costs, analytics, and more.
This leads many EMS agencies to outsource their billing. Smart decision. The fee that a billing service will charge will certainly be less than the cost of running a second internal business. Let a specialized company handle the specialized work of billing so that the EMS agency can focus on patient care and other operational priorities.
Here are five main reasons why EMS agencies have made the switch to outsourcing.
1. Reduced Costs
An established third-party billing company has a head start on infrastructure that an in-house department may never catch up with. Staffing, workspace, IT, hardware, training, software licenses, maintenance, even office supplies and equipment – these essential elements create burdensome ongoing fixed costs. Letting the billing provider handle these costs allows the EMS organization to direct resources to other essential budget items. Meanwhile, if the billing company invests in scaling their operation, building technology, and attracting top-tier staff, those benefits will be passed along to clients.
2. Industry Expertise
Billing companies deal with hundreds of providers, payers, and facilities – far more than a single EMS organization with an in-house billing department ever will. You may transport to a few different hospitals, but a billing firm may have connections to hospitals across an entire region and access to databases of patient data that your in-house billing team will not have. Outsourcing EMS billing allows you to take advantage of these economies of scale and collect every dollar.
Billing vendors also have the benefit of a broader range of resources and staff who can engage with industry associations, attend events, and stay abreast of trends in the changing healthcare environment. A good partner will keep you informed of new developments when necessary and will make sure that changes are incorporated into technology and policy as needed.
3. Top-Tier Technology
All billing companies rely on claims processing software to manage their operations. Good billing companies develop their own claims processing software to manage their operations with efficiency, opportunities for customization, and automated processes balanced with manual oversight.
Simply put, it would be impossible for an in-house billing department to develop and scale the technological expertise needed to maximize the potential of technology for billing.
4. Customer Service for Patients
After a traumatic 911 event, the best customer service may be no customer service at all. In other words, the best thing for a patient is not to have to worry about how to pay for their emergency transport.
Often, individuals are confused about their insurance coverage for EMS services. Third-party billing companies have advanced technology solutions designed to identify patient insurance information quickly and efficiently – more so than an in-house billing department could do alone, even armed with the best software. If your billing company processes millions of claims annually, they have established manual and automated processes to uncover patients’ insurance information through clearinghouses, demographic databases, admitting hospital data access, and sheer manpower.
Patient inquiries and other sensitive customer service touchpoints will inevitably still arise, so it’s important to look for a third-party vendor with high levels of professionalism and sensitivity to your organization’s reputation.
5. Increased Collections
The results of the combination of cost reduction, industry expertise, targeted technology, and great customer service? Increased collections for your organization. A billing company has one goal: maximizing the return on every claim submitted. To keep the business viable long-term, they must do so compliantly and direct resources toward infrastructure and technological innovation. This results in increased collections for clients.
Third-party billing companies should also have the capability to perform sophisticated analysis by looking at the right metrics to measure performance. Your billing partner should help you understand the right data at the right time for the right reasons. Then, you’ll be able to monitor and assess your billing company as well as project revenues.
Deciding how to handle your agency’s EMS billing takes analysis and careful consideration, with plenty of pros and cons to weigh. We’ve provided a handful of good reasons to outsource EMS billing. What are your reasons to keep doing your own billing?