If you’re considering starting a medical billing home business, your probably wanting to know what it takes. You don’t have a fortune to spend in starting your medical billing and coding home business. Here's 10 tips that will help save time and money that I've learned in starting a medical billing business from home.
10 Tips for Starting a Medical Billing Home Business
Starting a business doesn’t have to drain your life savings. Most people starting out don’t have a lot of money to invest - and you want to use your money as prudently as possible. I've compiled a list of 10 tips and ideas for starting a medical billing business that I found can save a lot.
Here are some tips I’ve learned that may be helpful in operating a medical billing home business:
1. Learn the Business
Things like how to market, write a contract, price your services, establish a medical billing business plan, etc. These can play a big part in being profitable - after all that’s why you want to establish a business.
So how do you learn the medical billing business? The quickest way is from people who have already done it. Before I started a medical billing home business, I asked a lot of questions from a friend already in the business. How to market, what software did they use, how much can you make, what are the costs - these are the types of questions I had.
Medical Billing Live offers Medical Billing Business in a Box! at a very reasonable price. This is a collection of medical billing books and resources about starting a medical billing home business and getting clients written by a mother daughter team. I think Alice and Michele are great at explaining the business of medical billing, marketing, and signing your first doctor. Their advice would have saved me a lot of time and money if it was available when I was starting a medical billing business. They operate a successful medical billing business in NY so they speak from very valuable experience.
I actually purchased these books separately but it’s a better deal to purchase as a package. They have some great marketing advice that I’ve been using for my medical billing home business. From my experience getting your first client is the biggest challenge.
The Medical Billing Books page lists several other books helpful resources.
Having a good reverence to explain the details of health insurance has been extremely helpful to me – especially when getting started. Understanding Health Insurance is a great go-to reference for insurance billing and coding. Although it sells for about $65 new, Amazon usually has used ones available for much less - I got mine for about $25.
Eventually you’ll also want to get the latest coding reference books for CPT-4 and ICD-9 (or ICD-10) codes - these are updated annually. Even if you stay strictly in medical billing, you may need to occasionally check codes, or see if they have changed or are outdated. I’ve been using the Ingenix books. There are several from different publishers available on Amazon.
2. Get Trained
Before you try to convince a doctor or office manager to put their reimbursement functions in your care, you need a good understanding of medical billing. A good solid foundation in the fundamentals of medical billing is necessary to understand the process. Things like how to fill out a claim form and file a claim, medical coding terminology, posting insurance payments, how to read an explanation of benefits - these are all tasks performed on a daily basis by medical billing specialists.
One of the most effective ways to gain experience is working for a billing service or in a physicians office performing the billing function. If you already have billing experience then you already know the process. That’s the way I learned - working for a medical billing business. It really gives you a good understanding of the nuts and bolts of the medical billing process. If you don’t have any experience you may consider offering to work for free for a short time just to see how the process works. Working for a billing service gives a good understanding of how things work from their perspective and the working with office managers and staff as well as insurance companies.
MedicalBillingCourse.com is probably one of the most affordable and quickest way to get a good foundation in Medical Billing. They have a comprehensive self-paced online program created by experienced medical billing professionals that’s tailored to those starting a medical billing home business. And they are accredited by the Better Business Bureau.
Your local vocational or technical school is also a good resource. If you need to search for a local or online medical billing and coding schools, Edu-Search is an easy way - just use the search box in the right margin of this page or the one here.
3. Set up a Medical Billing Home Business Office
You should actually receive some cost savings due to the tax deductions you qualify for with a home office. This assumes you already have a basic home office setup. A portion of your utility and home maintenance costs are tax deductible. Keep good records of all your home expenses and consult with a good accountant.
You should have an office dedicated to your medical billing home business. Starting out it doesn't have to be anything fancy. I just started with a simple desk and comfortable chair. Once you have a client, you'll also need a lockable filing cabinet.
Your office should be in a room that can be locked and secured when not in use. This is to comply with HIPAA privacy and security requirements to protect health information. This is very important. We see on an almost daily basis reports of large companies data being compromised - especially credit card information. A home medical billing business needs to be set up with the protection of patient information being a priority.
There’s some resources on our Free Stuff page that may also be helpful in learning and understanding medical billing.
4. Save On Marketing Materials
If you have Microsoft Office, you can create economical marketing materials like business cards, brouchures, fliers, etc by using a lot of free templates available from the Microsoft Templates site.
Probably the most effective form of marketing is by networking. Any contacts or friends, former coworkers, etc. that work in the field is a great place to start. Networking is free and the best use of your time in getting the word out for your business.You can get nice printer card stock at any office supply store for postcards and business cards. I've actually printed my own business cards and they look pretty good using a laser printer. Vistaprint actually offers free business cards.
I've also made up one page professional looking fliers and printed on good quality paper for marketing. Use these to describe your medical billing home business services, qualifications, and contact or website information.
Microsoft has great templates on their website for just about everything. These look very nice when printed on your laser printer. I’ve found pastel paper stands out better.
Here's some other great economical marketing materials for either landing your first client or growing your medical billing business.
5. Office Equipment
In setting up a medical billing home business, you'll need a computer, a good dependable printer, and a fax machine. I’ve had good performance from my Brother MFC-8220 All-in-One fax and printer machine. Get a laser monochrome so your cost per page will be lowest. Amazon has good prices on the Brother MFC Series Laser Multifunction Printer. You can usually get a nice one for under $200.
You’ll need a good printer for your medical billing home business for claim forms, statements, and marketing material such as fliers, letters, postcards, etc. Reliability is also important when receiving faxes from the doctors office.
Most medical billing work I do does not require a special computer. A good standard desktop is fine. I've also used my laptop at times but as much data entry and typing as this business requires it can get uncomfortable.
6. Use Refurbished Toner
I listed toner here because we go through a lot of it and it can be a big expense. I’ve always used refurbished toner. It’s about 1/3 the price and has always worked fine for me. We go through a lot of toner with all the faxing of documents between our office and our doctors. I've had good luck with Spectrum Toner (www.spectrumtoner.com) and Amazon.
7. Build A Website
A website is a very effective marketing tool to complement your other marketing efforts. You can refer prospective clients to your site for more information and to reinforce you expertise in medical billing.
Most people these days don’t even bother thumbing through a phone book. They just do a Google search. Site Build It (SBI) is a great resource for marketing a service business. You can also make money with your site with Google AdSense and affiliates. I built this site using SBI after using one of those low cost web hosts. I learned there’s more to getting people to find your site than just putting it out there.
Here's The Story of My Website - how I went from building a website to building a web business. I've seen the traffic on this website grow between 40% and 50% a month. And it also complements our medical billing home business by generating income from advertisements.
With a home based business you don't have a physical presence, so a website is the best tool for establishing your credibility. It's a great tool to reference from your marketing materials (business cards, flyers, etc.) that makes you look credible and promotes your knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Site Build It shows you how to take your business, interests, or hobby and create a profitable web site. Check Site Build It out and see for yourself. It's a great tool for local business owners that allows you to create a web site that promotes their business and generates income.
Google also has a local business center called Google Places that you can use to help get your business (website) found locally.
8. Use Online Medical Billing Software
Use online medical billing software. Services such as Kareo start at $69 a month. What I like about online medical claim billing software is that you can access from any PC. Some also offer no minimum contracts at a cost per provider – not per user. There’s also other online billing claim medical software from providers such as AdvancedMD and CollaborateMD that are similar.
A company called Office Ally offers free online practice management and clearinghouse applications. I haven’t used them but have heard good things about their clearinghouse services. You certainly can’t beat the price!
The benefit of using an online software service is that you don't have to spend a lot on medical billing software - which can cost thousands of dollars. There's also the reoccurring maintenance costs of upgrades, backups, etc. Not having to invest in software and hardware is a great cost savings when starting a medical billing home business.
9. Use VOIP for Phone Lines
I’ve been using Packet8 VOIP phone service for my medical billing home business and our home phone for 5 years. It’s been very reliable. Total cost for unlimited long distance is very reasonable - much less than the local phone company. You can also use the virtual local number feature for a client in another city so the practice and their patients can call a local number.
My fax line is a standard no-frills conventional phone line. At the time Packet8 didn’t have a way to send faxes using VOIP. Until you really need a dedicated fax line, you can use a service like MyFax for around $10 a month that lets you send and receive faxes via internet and print out on your printer.
10. Perseverance: Priceless
I just added this to make it an even 10… No seriously…...starting a business takes a lot of perseverance. That’s probably the biggest ingredient to success. If you don’t have perseverance and drive, it doesn’t matter how much you spend. Believe me that’s the secret to my being able to work from home and earn a good living in this business.
Some of these costs are approximate. My point is you don’t have to spend a fortune to start a medical billing home business. I’m embarrassed to say how naive I was when I started. I bought one of these "training programs" for about $700. It looked fancy but I could have found more useful information surfing the internet for free!
I also invested several thousand dollars in software – some of which I didn’t even need. That’s why a service like Office Ally and Kareo are so appealing. I’m assuming you already have a PC and high speed internet connection and a basic home office.
You can see there's a lot to think about in setting up a medical billing home business. And I really didn't get into the impacts on other aspects of your life - like family. But its not something that should overwhelm you. Having your own business offers a great flexibility and freedom that working in a conventional office does not.
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