For a person who owns a retail store, getting paid is fairly straightforward: The customers come in, choose the items they want, and pay for those items.
They may choose to pay with a credit card or a check or cash, but that’s about the most complicated aspect of the transaction.
In a chiropractic practice, however, things are more complex. Often, the transaction involves more than just the customer and service provider. Third parties, such as private insurance companies and government entities, are also involved. Then, there are legal obligations and regulatory factors.
There are many ways DCs handle the complications of billing and collecting payment, including cash-only operations, in-house billing, billing services, and electronic health records (EHR) systems.
The clearest, most-straightforward method is to be a cash-only operation; however, this is also a very limiting option. The number of people who are willing to pay out of pocket for chiropractic services is significantly smaller than the number of people willing to “try out” chiropractic if their insurance covers it.
If you’ve been in business for many years and you have a dedicated patient base who is willing to see you no matter what, this could be the best option for you. Otherwise, you probably need to see patients who use their insurance to pay for part or all of your services.
Many DCs choose to handle billing in-office. An office manager or other staff member who has the training and knowledge to handle billing is a necessity in this scenario. With the multitude of changes that have taken effect in the last few years, ICD-10 on the horizon, and the fact Office of the Inspector General (OIG) plans to pay special attention to chiropractic practices, it is utterly essential to make sure all of your billing paperwork is exactly as it should be.
If you have been in business for any length of time, you’ve probably heard from a billing service or two, and this kind of service is not a bad option. It can be expensive, so you should carefully consider your needs, the services offered, what kind of customer support and service is available, and your expectations before committing to a service. Be sure to read reviews and talk to people within your network before choosing a company.
Electronic health records system
While an EHR system can be a big investment, depending on the type you buy, it could also help you take care of and streamline billing and collections. The biggest hurdle is choosing a system and incorporating it into your practice. You have to go through the process of researching which companies are certified vendors, reading reviews, downloading demonstrations, talking to people within your network, and otherwise surveying the market. Then, once you’ve made a decision, you and your staff must learn to use the system and create a plan for implementing it.
However, after going through that process, a solid EHR system can be exceedingly beneficial for managing your practice—from patient check in to collecting payment for your services. Most EHR software will either have a billing system included as part of the package or will integrate with existing billing programs. If having a single system is appealing, an EHR system might be the best route for you.