We’ve all done it at one time or another: We put off making necessary changes to a working relationship because we worry about the transition.
Since revenue is at risk during a transition between billing companies, many healthcare organizations hesitate to switch even if they’re frustrated with the status quo. After all, it’s human nature to prefer the problems you have — and already understand — to those unknown.
Yet it’s important not to procrastinate when it comes to changes that can positively impact the revenue cycle. In these days of ever-thinning margins, every penny counts.
The truth is, change doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, with good communication and a knowledgeable partner, it can be a beneficial experience. The only thing you should say after an anesthesia billing company transition is, “Why didn’t we do this sooner!”
Communication is key
We often hear about the importance of good communication, but what does that mean in practical terms?
There are a lot of moving parts involved in successful coding and billing operations. That’s why good communication at abeo consists of three parts:
- Internal discussions: We hold weekly meetings, with all the internal management involved in a transition. This includes EDI, payroll, practice management, account management, credentialing & payer enrollment, human resources and any others who are part of the onboarding process.
- Practice/abeo discussions: Touch base meetings/communications between practice leadership and abeo are designed to update the transition progress, next steps and other issues of importance to the practice. Communications typically occurring weekly, but could be more depending on circumstances.
- Predecessor/abeo discussions: Collecting information from predecessor billing companies can sometimes be difficult, but we know that professionalism is key to maintaining a respectful rapport with competitors. That’s why we offer frequent communication to the predecessor, a written and itemized list of what’s needed from them, and professional kindness.
In addition, we’ve found that having our employees stateside and easily available for calls — and often onsite meetings — can ease communication and the transition overall.
The purpose of all this communication is for you and your new billing company to develop mutual understanding. Start by exploring what your revenue cycle currently looks like, and what you’d like it to look like going forward.
Understand how cadence can drive success
You and your billing company should also agree on the appropriate transition cadence, which should be determined by your transition goals. For example, a 60-day timeline is often ideal when there is no need to change enrollment or pay-to addresses. On the other hand, a 180-day transition may be more appropriate if the new billing company is starting from scratch, building compliance plans, compensation models and the like.
Other factors that impact a practice’s transition include payor mix and geography. You will also want to pull back expectations if you are looking at a brand-new tax ID. Yet even with all the variables, practices can use these general benchmarks as a guide:
- In month #1, most practices can expect 5-10 percent revenue.
- By month #3, about 60-70 percent normal revenue is typical.
- By month #5, you should be at 100 percent cash flow.
Every billing transition is unique
Regardless of the timeline, a good coding and billing company will overcommunicate what’s happening every step of the way. They will explain both normal and best-case scenarios, and be transparent when setbacks occur. Not only should they brief you about what’s happening as it’s happening, they should also tell you how it will affect the transition and what they’re doing to progress.
Such open communication can smooth even tricky circumstances. For example, a client with 250 providers, 15 different tax IDs and nearly 30 different locations asked abeo to assume coding and billing operations — with two weeks’ notice to begin the transition. To add to the challenge, the predecessor billing company was not very cooperative.
Nevertheless, together with the client, we devised a project plan we followed to a T. It included phone calls every morning with the large executive leadership team, and internal abeo staff meetings every evening. As a result, we hit normalized revenue in about 90 days.
Another instance involved a group of 25 physicians that had debated switching billing companies for quite some time. In partnership with this well-organized, well-managed group, abeo helped them achieve normalized revenue in 60 days. Communication and decisive leadership played key roles in this transition success.
Protect revenue, welcome change
There are other steps you can take to protect revenue during an anesthesia billing company transition as well, such as:
- Know and communicate your current revenue cycle policies and procedures.
- Have copies of your managed care contracts on hand.
- Pick a good communicator to represent the practice during ramp up – someone who is willing and able to quickly answer questions and provide data.
- Designate an internal decision-maker. Billing companies should be willing and able to advise you on your options, but ultimately each practice must make the decisions that are right for them.
In fact, there are many things practices can do to ensure a positive transition experience. You don’t have to be afraid of change. With good communication and the right billing partner, you can be a successful steward of your practice’s revenue.
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