When you think about combining your physician billing (PB) and hospital billing (HB) into one operation, there are many things to consider. This type of arrangement can either be called a central billing office or a single business office*; either way the result is an office where patients can call to discuss both hospital and professional billing services. Whatever label used, it’s unrealistic to to simply sit hospital and physician billers together and expect them to speak the same language, or put hospital and clinic customer service reps together, plug the phones in and be ready to go. So how do you combine your billing resources to ensure efficiency and flow?
Assess current operations
Consider the billing staff for both hospital and physician billing in light of any new space constraints. What is the most efficient way to group billers to ensure efficiency and flow? Take a look at how your billers currently work and consider consolidating hospital and physician billers with similar roles. For example, put your government billers together for both physician and hospital billing as they work with the same payer and speak the same language. Do the same for your hospital and physician commercial billers. By grouping billers together they are better able to help eachother.
There are other ways to leverage your resources. Consider integrating your payment posting team. Cross train hospital billing and physician billing with policies in place for weighted payment posting. Considering policies for weighted payment posting is important when there are balances on both the hospital and professional accounts and the patient does not specify which account to post the payment.
Examine your options for consolidating the team that reviews credit balances so that refunds are not sent until both hospital and professional balances are cleared. Consolidate your key performance
dashboards and review weekly with the management team. Integrate and cross train your customer service team and consider pairing experienced hospital billing and physician billing members, especially at the beginning.
Advantages of centralized billing
A centralized billing office has many advantages, the primary benefit being the consolidated customer service and/or collection area. But there are many additional benefits, including:
- Allows for quick access to information on hospital and clinic encounters
- Provides payment summary screens for an overall snapshot of billing status
- Provides the ability to integrate payment plans
- Integrates self-pay collections
- Improves automation and efficiency
- Minimizes manual intervention for follow-up process
- Provides efficiencies in customer service area
- Reduces mailings
- Improves financial relations with your patients
- Improves staff satisfaction with the system
- Provides consistency in billing practices
- Integrates policies
As reimbursement continues to decline – efficiencies are expected by you, your patients and the healthcare industry. Combining staff into a central business office serves to not only improve efficiencies in billing, payment posting and customer service; but allows for a more seamless patient experience. Even though there is a lot of work that goes into consolidating your offices – it is well worth it in the end.
* SBO (Single Billing Office) has two definitions: 1) One office where patients can call to discuss hospital and professional billing services. This definition may include other services as well as 2) Module within Epic to consider for your CBO (Central Business Office). For purposes of this article we are using first definition.