Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Start Your Own Business

The medical billing and coding field is expected to grow steadily in the next few decades. As health informatics change and the healthcare industry continues to expand, coders and billers will be in demand to cope with the increased burden of processing information that changes hands during a medical procedure. Third parties sometimes perform billing and coding operations, and there are opportunities for entrepreneurs to build their own billing and coding business.
One of the interesting benefits of starting a billing and coding profession is the ability to work from home. Because the job requires mostly clerical work that can be done on a computer, a medical biller and/or coder does not need to work from a medical office or even interact with patients directly. However, starting your own coding and billing business will not be easy. Even if you are working from home, you’ll have to stay in frequent contact with your clients, health insurance companies, and clearinghouses. Explore the following tips to running your own successful billing and coding business:

1) Get certified

Certification is not formally required for medical billers and coders, but if you’re starting your own business, you’ll want to have a certification from a school or training program that’s recognized by either the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) or the American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC). This certification will assures prospective clients that you have achieved a certain level of expertise and dependability.

2) Get experience

Before you start your own billing and coding service, you’ll want to get some experience working at a healthcare provider’s office. While it might not make sense to start your own at-home business working for someone else, you’ll have a very hard time finding any clients willing to entrust the sensitive health information of their patients to an unknown third party. Working for an established provider grants you a reference, proof of your legitimacy, and possibly even future clients.

3) Know the law

As you pursue certification, you’ll undoubtedly learn the regulations and laws that govern the day-to-day tasks of a medical biller and coder. However, don’t forget about local, state, and federal laws, as well. If you’re going to run your own billing and coding service, you’ll need to apply for a business license. You may also need to apply for special licenses within your state. Some medical billing agencies, for example, must be registered as collections agencies. You may also need to get a federal tax ID number for your small business. It’s worth the time and money to consult a professional accountant or financial adviser when it comes to setting up these licenses.

4) Get the tools

Like any start-up business, a medical billing and coding business will require some initial investment. Fortunately, unlike the capital needed for a lot of other small business, this investment is relatively low. You’ll have to invest in coding, billing, and accounting software, such as Quickbooks. You should invest in high-quality software (which may cost as much as $1,500), and avoid any program that seems too good to be true. You’ll also have to budget for expenses such as a computer and monitor, a fax machine/copier/scanner, separate phone line, reference books, clearinghouse fees, and more. To save money, explore all your options when searching for reference books. For instance, reference books can cost around $450, but there are online reference services that are available for around $30 per month. Also, set aside a space in your home for an office, and furnish it accordingly. Lastly, add the cost of training and certification into your start-up budget. All in all, be prepared to spend between $4,000 and $6,000 to start your coding and billing business.

5) Actively pursue networking opportunities

Once you’ve got your certification and business license and your home office is set up, it’s time to reach out to clients. If you worked with a provider before starting your own business, that provider may have work for you, or may be able to suggest other offices in need of coding and billing services. Note that smaller practices may have less on-site administrative help and could be interested in outsourcing coding and billing tasks. You may also want to choose a medical specialty, like cardiology or radiology. If you become proficient in a certain area of coding and billing, it’s easy to reach out to different practices that focus on the same thing. Set up a website for your business and keep it updated regularly.
You should also network the old-fashioned way, by attending conferences and joining professional associations. Professional associations like the AAPC provide valuable resources and opportunities to learn from other individuals in your field.

6) Get paid

When you’re about to begin work with a client, you’ll have to work out how you’ll be paid. Third-party coders can be paid by the hour, by the claim, or by a percentage of that client’s monthly revenue. The payment arrangement will depend on a number of things, such as the size of the practice and the frequency of patient visits. A general practitioner, for example, can have more than 40 office visits a day and charge a small amount, while a radiologist may have only a few visits but charge a significantly higher amount. Whichever payment rate you decide on, be sure to get that rate in a written contract.

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