Your Billing Toolkit: Business Tools for Private Practice to Help Billing Run Smoothly
Going into Private Practice is an immense undertaking, but can be extremely rewarding if you put the time into developing your business. If you’ve already started your Private Practice Journey, congratulations on making the leap! If you are considering getting started in Private Practice, our hope is that this article will provide you with some tools that will help you to muster up the courage. In either case, if you feel like you need some more guidance, consider subscribing to our blog to get tips on billing and credentialing, as well as Private Practice and Revenue Cycle Management directly to your inbox!
Shameless plug aside, the purpose of this particular post is to give you a starting point of programs or tools to consider that may be helpful in your Private Practice, particularly when it comes to billing and credentialing.
Electronic Health Records System (EHR)
The first tool that we recommend is an Electronic Health Records System, especially one that is designed for Mental and Behavioral Health Professionals. There are several programs out there, and each of them varies slightly in their interface, but the general purpose of this system is to manage all of your patient data in an organized and HIPAA compliant fashion. These systems will allow you to collect patient demographic information as well as the highly important updated insurance information. You can even schedule appointments, complete progress notes, and submit claims directly in the system! This is an extremely powerful tool, and it’s important to find one that works for you.
We strongly recommend using TherapyNotes. We bill exclusively out of TherapyNotes, and this is because we’ve put the systems to the test. TherapyNotes proved to be the most thorough and user friendly system, and it has some pretty neat features such as credit card processing, payment posting, electronic claim submission, great customer service, and the ability to control roles and access to data at a high level!
Whichever EHR you end up using, we caution that any system is only as good as its user. Patient information needs to be updated frequently so that claims get submitted to the correct payer, and the proper demographic information is submitted on the claim. Notes need to be completed in a timely manner to comply with timely filing, and to get the paychecks coming in!
Password Storing Software
When you are billing insurance, there can be a lot of passwords associated with Provider Portals, EHR systems, CAQH profiles, emails, etc. It can be daunting to try and remember all of these passwords, and frustrating when you can’t figure out the right one! Luckily, you can set aside that notebook storing all your passwords and graduate to something a little more tech savvy (and safer!) with a password storing software. There are several options out there, and TotalHIPAA outlines some Password Manager Recommendations in this article.
A Good Filing System (preferably digital)
When you credential with an insurance company, you are going to have an influx of important documents such as your insurance contract and fee schedule, instructions on accessing that payer’s portal, information about how to connect your EHR for claim submissions, and many other things that are important to hold on to! If you’re not sure if a document is important or relevant to you, our suggestion is that you keep it. We recommend creating a file for each insurance company that you are credentialing/credentialed with and storing all relevant information in that folder. Storing all of your information digitally allows you to easily share information with others when necessary, and it also allows you to have access to all of that information whenever and wherever you may need it! The most important part is that you come up with an organization system that works for you so that you can reference these documents easily when needed.
We recommend using an accounting system outside of TherapyNotes to keep track of your finances. Having an accounting system is important to make sure that your finances are staying compliant. Your EHR is not developed to track your finances sufficiently. Especially if you are a group practice, an accounting software can help you to manage a payroll, which is not something that EHRs would help you to keep track of.
The gold standard in accounting systems is QuickBooks, but if you are not confident in your accounting skills, or you don’t have an accountant, we would recommend talking to someone like Julie at Green Oak Accounting who specializes in bookkeeping for private practices. Depending on your revenue volume and your needs, you may find that you are able to use free accounting software rather than paid software. Ivestopedia has a list of The 5 Best Accounting Software for Small Business of 2021 that may also be a good starting point in researching accounting systems.
Business Bank Account
If not a Business Bank Account, at least have a dedicated account that is used for all insurance payments to be deposited into. Having a business account gives you an edge when it comes to enrolling for direct deposit or EFT, since some insurance companies require a void check and that the information on the check must match exactly to the name of your business, or your professional name.
Choose a bank that is local to your business, or a financial institution that you already bank with. Setting up a business account may be easier than you think, and reduce headaches in the long run!
An administrative assistant can be helpful for a variety of tasks, from scheduling appointments, collecting and inputting patient information, to collecting payments from patients. If you have a hard time staying organized, an admin can help relieve you of some of the duties that require higher levels of detail, and allow you to focus on your patients and their treatment plans.
We are not recommending that you need an assistant right out of the gate; this is something to consider down the road when your practice begins to grow and thrive, and you may be feeling like there are too many things for you to juggle.
Not to toot our own horn here (but who can refuse tooting a horn), hiring the right billing company can make a world of difference in helping your insurance billing run smoothly. Practice Solutions prides itself on being a biller that specifically focuses on Mental Health Billing- that’s all we do! There are other billing companies as well that have a broader range of billing services out there, but we think it’s better for you to have someone who understands you and your industry.
The benefit of having Practice Solutions do your billing is that you get someone knowledgeable with years of billing experience specifically dedicated to your account. Your biller will learn the ins and outs of how you bill. We value a great relationship with our clients, and when you sign a contract with us it is a partnership. Your biller has your best interest at heart. When you don’t have to spend your time worrying about claims getting submitted, payments being posted, or following up on rejections, you can focus on the whole reason you started your practice: your patients.