The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Medical Billing

September 11, 2014
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If you’re a doctor or a practice manager, one of the hardest and most financially impactful decisions that you will have to make is choosing between outsourcing your medical billing operations and keeping an in-house billing staff. Medical billing is quite a demanding and heavy task; that’s why many medical offices make the choice of outsourcing it.

If you’re a doctor or a practice manager, one of the hardest and most financially impactful decisions that you will have to make is choosing between outsourcing your medical billing operations and keeping an in-house billing staff. Medical billing is quite a demanding and heavy task; that’s why many medical offices make the choice of outsourcing it.

But before you think of outsourcing, you must carry out a thorough assessment of your staffing, costs and volume metrics. (Read here for signs that it’s time to outsource your medical billing.) The decision should be made with careful consideration of many factors, including your staffing resources, experience with billing and personal comfort.

To help you decide whether to call that professional medical billing firm or not, I will lay out the pros and cons of outsourced medical billing.

PROS

medical billing1. Saves time – Medical billing is an extremely complicated and time consuming task. Outsourcing the task frees up time for you to focus on your patients.

2. Saves moneyBy outsourcing your medical billing, you could save thousands of dollars in annual salaries and benefits; office supplies and tools; and purchasing, upgrading, and maintaining billing software and computer equipment.

3. Transparency – Your medical billing service provider will provide you with supreme visibility into your medical billing operations without you having to manage or oversee any of your staffers.

4. Reduces billing errors – Hiring an experienced and professional medical biller will greatly reduce errors on your business due to improper coding, slow claims processing and inadequate follow-up.

5. Faster collection – Medical staffing firms are focused exclusively on handling billing; they’re not distracted by other tasks. This translates to claims that are submitted faster and money that is collected sooner.

6. More focus on patient care – You could spend more time focusing on patient satisfaction and providing quality care.

7. Improves patient satisfaction – Reducing the burden placed on your medical billing staff by outsourcing can increase patient satisfaction by improving patient flow. Your patients will be happy because they will receive uninterrupted courteous and professional assistance for their billing questions or issues.

8. Increases revenue – With the reduction in overhead costs, the timely submission of medical claims and the increased reimbursements, a higher profit is another advantage outsourcing can provide to your business.

CONS

1. Loss of direct control – When you outsource, you lose direct control of who is billed and when. Not having the ability to directly supervise the work puts your medical office in a vulnerable position.

2. Variable cost – Most medical billing companies charge a percentage of collections, so the more you bring in, the more you’ll pay out. This can make it hard to budget your practice’s expected billing expenses, since costs differ widely between slow and busy months.

3. Risk to patient satisfaction – Patients like having the ability to walk into their doctors’ office to make their payments or discuss the specifics of their bill. Patients are less likely to be satisfied by the service they receive when they can only discuss important matters over the phone.

4. Possible hidden costs – Hidden costs refer to costs associated with preparing for your medical office switching from in-house billing to outsourcing. There may be much money required for legal fees.

5. Limitations – Limitations may exist within some outsourcing companies. The services they provide may be limited due to the lack of access to information and a lack of communication between the medical office and the outsourcing company. 

Both advantages and disadvantages exist if you outsource your medical office billing. Be sure to weigh all options before making your decision, and make sure you choose a credible company. 

medical billing / shutterstock