Revenue Cycle Management Blog | GroupOne Health Source

5 Ways Outsourcing Medical Billing is Like Buying Your First Car

Written by Kaitlyn Houseman | August 5, 2014

Remember purchasing your first car; walking the car lot, searching through the auto trader, and feeling completely overwhelmed?  The process of buying your first car and the process of selecting a medical billing / RCM firm for your practice contains many similarities.  Here are 5 ways outsourcing the medical billing is like buying your first car.

1. You do not know the right questions to ask

Remember the first time you bought a car? Assuming a close friend or family member was not in the business of selling cars, you were probably overwhelmed with the number of questions that should be asked during the process. 

We all want the best bang for our buck and buying a car is no short term commitment for most. Choosing a revenue cycle management company can be just as complex and confusing.

A common problem, when looking for a medical billing company, is that it is something a practice has never done. When you haven’t done something before, like search for a medical billing company, you don’t have the advantage of experience.

Without knowing what to judge, measure, or ask, it is easy to be deceived or make a decision that isn’t a good fit.  I’m sure the purchase of your second vehicle will be or was a smoother process than the first time around. Do your research before choosing a medical billing company. When you think you have done enough research, do more.  Your cash flow could depend on it.

2. Trusting the salesperson is difficult

Why are we always skeptical of salespeople? Usually it comes down to the fact that we hate being sold to because we don’t completely trust what someone is telling us.

Sales people usually spend time trying to convince us they will do right by us; yet we still are skeptical regardless of what the product or service might be. If you have purchased a car, you may or may not have worked with a salesperson that overpromised and under delivered.

If you have worked with a sales person like this, you probably know how it feels to be angry and regretful because of a purchase. If you haven’t, try to be sympathetic to those that have. To put it nicely, it’s extremely unpleasant and frustrating. In that situation, you usually have two options; start over with the buying process to find satisfaction, or stick it out and live with your mistake.

The best way to avoid making a mistake is to work with a sales person that you trust. Listed below are a few characteristics to look for in medical billing sales people that help determine trustworthiness.

Are they:

  • able to say both “no” and “yes” consistently,
  • willing and able to tell you things you don’t want to hear,
  • Able to disagree without arguing,
  • Able to admit when they do not know something.

3. There are too many choices

When deciding on cars, most of us realize that there are many different variables available in the hundreds of different car choices, including different styles, options, features, models, new vs, used, colors, engines, etc.  The differences between billing companies may not be as obvious at first. 

If you think all billing companies are the same you, might as well think all cars are the same. Billing companies differ in the services covered, processes, results, cost, structure, direction, etc. In much the same way that cars are different, billing companies are different, even if the differences are not easily recognizable on the surface. One may fit your personality more than another and may make you feel more comfortable.

Another may cost too much and be more than what you need. It is going to take some reflection for you to decide what your practice needs and what you want. Do you want a Mercedes Sedan with rear seat entertainment and leather seats, or will a Chevy Malibu be perfect for you? There will be differences, and you will need to decide which the best fit for your practice is (especially since your revenue will be affected).

4. The performance depends on you

Assume you buy a car that you expect will last you several hundred thousand miles. What will happen if you never change the oil? The car will not perform as well as it should. What you are buying and how you take care of it go hand in hand.  This “partnership” expectation should be set by your sales person (another way to indicate trust) because you are an important part of the medical coding and billing equation. If the billing company has experience and has proven processes that deliver results, you will want to follow their lead when it comes to the revenue cycle management workflow. If improvements can be made at your practice which help the RCM firm work more efficiently at getting you paid, you may want to make those improvements.

5. If it is too good to be true then it probably is.

If you are buying a new Mercedes S Class for $15,000, you might want to reconsider that purchase. Just like when you partner with a billing company, the price is going to reflect what you are getting.

Don’t just go with the thought that you are getting a good deal. Yes, there will be times when you get a good deal, on a pair of sneakers, but not medical coding and billing services that impact the revenue of your practice. The cost is going to reflect the level of service and the results.

Ask how the quoted price was put together.  Ask the billing company how they determined your quote and read through the contract carefully. Ask someone else to read the contract because there might be a catch or a clause that you didn’t recognize at first. Ask your sales person for references so you can get an outside opinion.

Also ask about the length of the agreement.  Find out what happens if you are unhappy with the service and if you are able to terminate the agreement. Worst case scenario is that you sign a contract which you are locked into even if the service is poor. I would strongly advise taking these steps before you sign an agreement with any billing company.