In this interview with a medical billing expert and co-owner of Elite Billing Resolutions, Vicky Greenwood, we talk about dealing with the challenges in owning a billing company, some important skills that every medical biller needs, and the value of choosing the right medical billing software. In our time speaking with Vicky, we focused on topics that will aid, contribute, and help grow the skills of the medical billing community. We at EZClaim believe in highlighting the best practices in the industry and sharing those with the larger community. We encourage you to consider these insights, and then let us know what topics you would like to learn more about.
EZCLAIM: When did you get into medical billing?
VICKY: “I started in 1994, and at the time we were working on a dinosaur of a system called, “Signature.” We would have to wait overnight to process the entire day’s work. Then we would return in the morning to see if there were any errors in the batch or denials in the claims, which meant being accurate in entering information was essential. Outside of that, we kept all our paperwork in filing cabinets, and they needed to be sorted and organized by date. If a date was off in the filing system it could take the better part of a day to find a patient’s claim. The difference between then and now is night and day. I am definitely thankful for technology.”
EZCLAIM: Why did you start Elite Medical Billing?
VICKY: “We started Elite Medical Billing because we wanted to be able to directly impact our medical practices with the services we provided, and we wanted the freedom to enjoy doing it for our clients. I also knew that I was experienced in the field, was competent at my job, and enjoyed doing what needed to be done to get practices paid. Once I honed those skills and knew we could do it. We hired a lawyer and an accountant, then formed our company.”
EZCLAIM: What are challenges in starting a company?
VICKY: “First, you have to understand the value of time management and delegation. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. It is good to know when you need to ask for help. Next, you want to find good staff. I look for people who have the right attitude about the job first and have the characteristics to be proactive and work hard. Then, I look for experience in the field, learning if they had hands-on experience with claims, denials, and coordination of benefits is part of that. At the end of the day, my staff are my [company], and fortunately, most of my staff have been with me from the beginning.”
EZCLAIM: Why did you choose EZClaim?
VICKY: “We had a client who needed software and, being a smaller company, we needed cost-effective software with strong tech support. When we searched on Google for “easy to use medical billing software,” we found EZClaim. We were won over by the first phone call. Since then, we have been reminded of how great a decision that we made. The simplicity by which you can enter the information, process new patients, and ‘claim them’ within minutes is invaluable. That combined with the great customer service—that answers our questions most often on the first call with detailed answers—and video tutorial support is why we will continue to use and promote the software.”
EZCLAIM: Are you a member of AMBA and MMBA?
VICKY: “We joined the MMBA and AMBA in 2016 to help us certify our billing company. That process and the training, testing, and materials were amazing pieces of helping us get established and grow. In addition, the expos, webinars, and online support offer an abundance of information. Of course, the annual expos are both informative and a great work trip for team building and fun. We make it annually to the MMBA, but our next big goal is to go to the AMBA in Las Vegas!”
EZCLAIM: Have some final thoughts to offer fellow medical billers and business owners?
VICKY: “As a medical biller and owner, you have to be willing to talk with physicians. You need to show them the vouchers and documentation of your work. And it is important to communicate how they bill and how they can be sure to properly classify to get paid. You need to review what they have done in the past and how they can improve in the future by training staff.”
“You can also add value by making them the good guy and yourself the bad guy when dealing with patients and getting paid. We allow patients to call us directly, we answer the questions, and tell them how much they have to pay—then we forward the call to the office. Remember, at the end of the day, you have to show them the money. They work hard and they deserve to get paid.”
As a medical billing expert, EZClaim can help the medical practice improve its revenues since it is a medical billing and scheduling software company. EZClaim provides a best-in-class product, with correspondingly exceptional service and support. Combined, EZClaim helps improve medical billing revenues. To learn more, visit EZClaim’s website, email them, or call them today at 877.650.0904.
Are you working in the medical billing industry as a biller or an owner of a billing company? If so, the KEY medical billing insights and best practices that came out of our interview with Maura Jansen (VP of Operations) and Jennifer Withington (Director of Revenue) at Missing Piece Billing & Consulting Solutions will be VERY VALUABLE for you to consider.
Jennifer, an expert in understanding the problem-solving techniques and the investigative nature of medical billing, offers insights that both educate and inspire. Maura, an executive member of the billing community, also added an important perspective about EZClaim’s medical billing software. The following are some highlights from our interview.
EZCLAIM: When did you get into the industry?
JENNIFER: “I worked in group homes for the waiver side of group aid and then I went to Missing Piece. Missing Piece primarily deals with ABA providers and provides early intervention rendered to children. For me, the move from waivers with adults to professional billing, indirectly assisting children, was attractive and I took to the billing side of things.”
EZCLAIM: What does that mean when you say you took to the billing side of things?
JENNIFER: “Insurance doesn’t make a lot of sense when you first start. So, I took to the investigative side of making sense of medical billing claims. Figuring out what the payer’s rules are, reading their manuals, and figuring out the technical jargon with the purpose of preventing claim denials was attractive. I liked the puzzle of it.”
EZCLAIM: Are there things that you value in your work that offer meaning to what you do?
JENNIFER: “It’s really when I know that if I do not intercede with the insurance company and get this paid the patient is going to be responsible for the balance. So, to help, I have taken things to the department of insurance, or I have gone ahead and filed that third letter of appeal and really taken the time to research it. Because I don’t want a parent who is already struggling with having a child with more needs than maybe the other children would have, I don’t want them struggling with a $25,000 bill. ABA is extremely expensive because it works. And so, if insurance doesn’t pay it then the only other funder is the parent. And my goal is that parents should not have to pay any more than they absolutely have to.”
EZCLAIM: What are some of the strengths that make you good at what you do?
JENNIFER: “I am a good problem solver. I am good at taking a large problem and breaking it into smaller problems and knocking each one down until I solve the bigger issue. At the end of the day, that’s really what accounts receivable is.”
EZCLAIM: What would be an example of your problem solving on a day-to-day basis?
JENNIFER: “So you always start with the denial and then you have to work back to the billing. For example, if I have a claim denied for services rendered from an out-of-network service provider, but we know we are in-network then my first problem is, are we actually in-network? Then, you go onto the next link which is did the payer recognize you as in-network? It becomes like a decision tree, if you get a ‘yes’ then you are probably done, and you get the claim processed. If it is ‘no’, then you have to start digging with the payers contacting reps, make calls, and supply them with documents to get down to why they don’t have your provider listed within the network. Once you solve that problem, then the claim should be able to be processed. It is either going to pay or deny. Then depending on which one it is, you apply the same technique.”
EZCLAIM: What would you offer someone who is considering entering the field?
JENNIFER: “You should be good at processing and reading information because to get a claim paid you to have to know the rules of engagement. You need to be familiar with how to read a contract, how to read technical information about billing, and have to have a glossary of information about what you are billing. Those are the building blocks to get to know what you are doing.”
EZCLAIM: You work with EZClaim’s medical billing software platform, what role does their software providers and how does that impact your work?
JENNIFER: “EZClaim really serves to eliminate these denials before they happen, which is the ultimate goal of any accounts receivable or billing. EZClaim has edits that we use. It alerts us if the system thinks the claim is a duplicate, for example. It also helps in the set-up of the claim. We load all the fee schedules in EZClaim’s procedure code library and that lets us monitor the charge rate, make sure all the points of billing are on the claim (i.e. correct code, modifier, and charge). They also make sure that the authorization is appended to the claim. And then after we have actually done the work of getting a claim in the system, we use EZClaim reports to audit our own billing. So, we use the EZClaim service report. It makes it easier for us and our providers to see what has been billed and make sure that the billing is correct.”
EZCLAIM: If you were going to share something with your colleagues in the field, what would you share about the software that makes your life easier?
JENNIFER: “Number one, it is not the software itself, it’s the EZClaim staff. Their customer service is far beyond what a normal billing software company provides. If I have a problem, or if I have a report, or if I have a data point that isn’t in any report, they are available and they are there for me. And if they don’t have a solution for the problem, they will provide me with a workaround. So, that is very valuable. That is why Missing Piece works so well with EZClaim because customer service is number one for us, too. They don’t just want to answer your question, they want to help you understand your question.”
“The other thing that I find valuable is that their reporting modules are just a lot more robust than the other billing software companies that I have dealt with.”
EZCLAIM: Maura, do you have any thoughts from an administrative level that you can offer on EZClaim?
MAURA: “Well, when we hire a new person we know that, even if this person has very little experience in the healthcare field, it’s going to be a quick and easy process for them to learn EZClaim… EZClaim has also made it kind of a joy to work with. We really value them as a partner. We love the service they provide, and we value them as a platform.”
EZClaim can also help you with medical billing insights since it is a medical billing and scheduling software company. It provides a best-in-class product, with correspondingly exceptional service and support. Combined, they help improve medical billing revenues. To learn more, visit EZClaim’s website, email them, or call them today at 877.650.0904.
The noncompliance of HIPAA security rules has had huge consequences for an IT and health information management company.
CHSPSC LLC, (“CHSPSC”) has agreed to pay over $2 million to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), for the breach of Protected Health Information (PHI). The Business Associate was notified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that it had traced a cyber-hacking group’s advanced persistent threat into CHSPSC’s information system.
After OCR ‘s investigation, it was found that CHSPSC had “longstanding, systemic noncompliance with the HIPAA Security Rule including failure to conduct a risk analysis, and failures to implement information system activity review, security incident procedures, and access controls.” The large health system provided various Business Associate services, including IT and health information management, to hospitals and physician clinics. These violations could have easily been avoided! OCR Director Roger Severino said, “The healthcare industry is a known target for hackers and cyber-thieves. The failure to implement the security protections required by the HIPAA Rules, especially after being notified by the FBI of a potential breach, is inexcusable.”
In addition to the monetary penalty, the Business Associate will be required to complete a “robust” Corrective Action Plan (CAP) with monitoring activity for at least the next two years. CHSPSC will also be required to do the following:
• Implement technical policies and procedures to allow access only to those persons or software programs that have been granted access rights to information systems maintained
• Implement procedures to regularly review records of information system activity, such as audit logs, access reports, and security incident tracking reports
• Conduct accurate and thorough assessments of the potential risks and vulnerabilities to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI
All this shows that ANYONE can face HUGE penalties, and they would most likely bankrupt a small billing company or an independent physician practice.
So, based on this specific example, it is VERY important to understand that every complaint or potential breach must be investigated by HHS/OCR. If you, a billing company, or other vendor, suspect a breach, you must inform the covered entity (your client) and have a breach risk assessment completed to determine key factors and take action.
Keep in mind, a Business Associate is a ‘person’ or ‘entity’. This means that ALL billing companies—large or small—need to comply with the Federal HIPAA security rules and regulations. So, if your company has not completed an accurate and thorough security risk assessment, there is a possibility that you could be penalized under ‘willful neglect’. (This category alone gas a fine of $50,000 per violation!)
So then, what can be done to ensure this doesn’t happen to my billing company or my organization? Well, one of EZClaim’s partners, Live Compliance, can make determining your compliance requirements extremely simple:
• Completely online, Life Compliance’s role-based courses make training easy for remote or in-office employees
• Contact-free, accurate Security Risk Assessments are conducted remotely. All devices are thoroughly analyzed regardless of location.
• Policies and procedures are curated to fit your organization, ensuring employees are updated on all workstation use and security safeguards in or out of the office. Update is in real time.
• Electronic, prepared document sending and signing to employees and business associates
So, don’t risk your company’s future, especially when Life Compliance is offering a FREE Organization Assessment to help determine your company’s status. Either call Life Compliance at 980.999.1585, visit LiveCompliance.com to schedule an assessment, or e-mail Jim Johnson.
[ Article contributed by Jim Johnson of Live Compliance ]
EZClaim is a medical billing and scheduling software company that provides a best-in-class product, with correspondingly exceptional service and support, and can help improve medical billing revenues. To learn more, visit their website, e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call a representative today at 877.650.0904.
An independent physician gastroenterology practice in Utah had to report a breach related to a dispute with a Business Associate to the Office for Civil Rights Department of HHS.
After the investigation into the breach, it was determined that the practice of Steven A. Porter, MD “had failed to complete an accurate and thorough risk analysis, and failed to implement security measures sufficient to reduce risks and vulnerabilities to a reasonable and appropriate level” and therefore, has agreed to pay a $100,000 fine.
In addition to the monetary penalty, the practice is required to implement a Corrective Action Plan (CAP). According to the investigation resolution agreement, the practice agreed to conduct a thorough Risk Analysis, the Practice must develop a complete inventory of all its categories of electronic equipment, data systems, and applications that contain or store ePHI, which will then be incorporated into its Risk Analysis and must complete a Risk Management plan. They must also revise and implement actionable policies and procedures, all of which should have been in place prior to the breach incident.
Have you ever read such headlines and doubted whether a small Billing Company or independent physician practice actually ever face penalties?
According to the Resolution Agreement, the practice must also completely reinvent its Business Associate process, and implement a strict protocol to ensure it’s Business Associates are HIPAA Compliant. In addition to ensuring their Business Associate relationships are accurate, the entire staff must undergo security and privacy training that stresses the use of Business Associate services and applications, disclosures to Business Associates that require a Business Associates agreement, or other reasonable assurances in place to ensure that the Business Associate will and can safeguard the PHI and/or the ePHI. This puts immense pressure on the Business Associates, such as Billing Companies, to ensure that they are HIPAA Compliant, but also independent physician practices to ensure their Business Associates, “down the chain” are also compliant. This is also known as gaining Satisfactory Assurance of vendor HIPAA compliance.
What can you do?
As we have stressed before, it is important for you to understand that every complaint or potential breach must be investigated by HHS/OCR. If you, a billing company, or another vendor, suspect a breach you must inform the covered entity (your client) and have a breach risk assessment completed to determine key factors and take action. Keep in mind, a business associate is a ‘person’ or ‘entity’. This means there is no Billing Company too small or too large to comply with the Federal HIPAA regulations. Again, if you haven’t completed an accurate and thorough security risk assessment prior to that, you could also be penalized under ‘willful neglect’. This category alone is $50,000 per violation!
What we do is keep this from ever being a worry for you! In fact, we have a 100% audit pass rate! For example, Live Compliance has easy to understand HIPAA breach notification training. We perform your security risk assessment and manage all your requirements, including business associates, in a clean, organized cloud-based portal. Don’t risk your company’s future, especially when we are offering a FREE Organization Assessment to help determine your company’s status. It’s easy, call us at (980) 999-1585, email me jim@LiveCompliance.com or visit LiveCompliance.com
[ Contributed by Jim Johnson, President of Live Compliance ].