When we work with practices that are contemplating setting up a new medical billing department or evaluating whether to outsource to a billing service instead, they often ask us which is “better.” There really isn’t a single answer—but there are a few questions that are almost always worth asking!
One of the most important things to know is, how easy will it be for you to attract the talent you need if you decide you’d rather build an in-house team? In many markets, the availability of talent to lead a billing department—or even just to staff it—is a real constraint.
The challenge of attracting talent becomes even more difficult when you’re aiming for very specific skills, such as expertise in a particular specialty or coding certification.
When you’re in a tough market or looking for very narrow requirements, outsourcing to a billing service may be a better way to get the kind of help that you need. What’s more, practices often find they would love to have the help of a particular expert such as a certified coder, but don’t have need of a full-time person. Billing services can employ highly-trained and credentialed professionals like coders, and share their skills (and their expense) across many practice clients. This allows practices access to high-end skills they want just a little of, and allows the professionals to work full-time at the top of their capabilities.
Outsourcing can take away other staffing headaches, too. Sometimes small practices have had the excellent luck to have a Jack- or Jill-of-all-trades who is the perfect one-person billing department grow up in the practice—you know, the kind of miracle worker who will happily and competently handle all things billing, from chasing down denials to negotiating with payers. But what happens if your prized employee retires, or needs to move due to a spouse’s job transfer, or just wants to take an extended leave? Outsourcing may be the best way to respond if your practice has been lucky enough to benefit from one of these jewels for many years, and you already know there’s almost certainly no one else like her out on the market.
Moving forward, one of the best things a billing service will offer your practice is some protection from this scenario—since, in most cases, there will be redundancy in staff to provide coverage in case someone unexpectedly leaves.
If this is a challenge for your practice, or you are considering outsourcing for other reasons, download this helpful guide.