Electronic Medical Records (EHR's) Effect on Billing Services

by Anonymous
(Nashville, TN)

Do you think the new Electronic Medical Records (EHR) systems being adopted by many practices will make billing services obsolete?


Response:

That's a question many billing services are asking these days. I really think electronic medical records software offers a great opportunity for billing services. It does require understanding what EHR's are and what they can and can't do. Take advantage of any opportunity to learn about EHR systems.

I've found for one of our practices that the EHR system actually complements the billing process and relieves the office staff of requests for additional patient information - like insurance info - that we billing specialists sometimes need to correct claims.

I think there's a mis-information that EHR's automate the billing process and replace the billing service. But a lot of the billing process still requires human interaction and input.

I think many practices become frustrated when they discover the EHR is not a "set and forget" system that automates the process. Practices still need help with transitioning to and maintaining their EHR's. After all the info in the EHR system is only as good as the effort put into entering accurate information.

Katie Matlack of Software Advice has written a great article addressing this subject - here's a summary of it:

5 Steps to New Income Sources for Medical Billing Companies

by Katie Matlack

With the mainstreaming of electronic health records (EHRs), some billing service company professionals may be concerned that doctors perceive that an EHR could replace them. Given the automatic coding and error-checking features of an EHR, this fear is not without some foundation in truth.

But as more and more medical practices adopt EHRs, the reality has not been that billing service companies are phased out. In fact, billing service providers should view the commonplace EHR as an opportunity. Why? Because EHR-related assistance services represent a profitable opening for billing services: a way to generate new revenue streams while also strengthening ties to their medical practice clients.

In order for your billing service company to profit, follow these five steps I’ve outlined below.

Step 1: Know what EHRs DON’T offer

Educate yourself rather than looking fearfully at EHRs. If a physician you work for does hint that she is thinking of phasing out your services you should be prepared to have a rational conversation with her. For example, even the best EHRs can’t make collection calls, arrange for payment plans, obtain the right supporting documents, or pinpoint opportunities for upcoding.

“The reality is that the software doesn’t replace you at all,” said Ian Gary, national sales representative for Health Fusion, an EHR vendor.

Step 2: Remember the value YOU offer

As I said in my original article on the topic:

“After you establish that some parts of medical billing can only be done by a well-trained human being, the next step is to communicate to your clients that your team is in the ideal position to help them with their EHR transition. Your employees are most likely already well-versed in how their EHR system works since many billing services work with multiple EHR vendors.

Moreover, who better to advise a practice than the company that is already familiar with their diagnostic codes, terminology and pain points? As Steven Tolle, Vice President of Solutions Management at EHR vendor Allscripts said in an article on the topic, “(Third-party billing companies) have the trust of physicians, and you can leverage that to expand your business.”

Step 3: Extend your services

You can offer a number of EHR-related services to clients, such as:
On-site support on the go-live date
Help personalizing EHR templates
Ongoing troubleshooting support

Katie Matlack is the Medical Market Analyst for Software Advice, where she writes about medical insurance billing software.

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