The rising prominence of the Triple Aim has increased pressure on EMS providers to optimize patient satisfaction and reduce healthcare costs – all while still attending to medical emergencies. This financial burden is exacerbated by industry competition, rising expenses (liability insurance, equipment, fuel, etc.) and process inefficiency. As a result, many organizations are turning to external EMS billing companies for help protecting their cash flows and enabling business growth.
While most billing companies will actively tout experience, efficient processes, quality assurance measures and superior customer service, vigilant EMS companies should take note of what these vendors are not saying. Below are eight questions that most billing companies are hoping you will not ask them, and why they are important to the financial success of any partnership:
- How do you adapt to industry change?
Reading industry journals and attending annual conferences to stay abreast of the latest developments are not enough to master compliance and regulatory changes. Timely adaptability requires a prospective, risk-adjusted view of your business, as well as the flexible operations to enable quick change. That means finding a partner who can pivot when needed by leveraging automated workflows with machine learning, integrating risk management into their analytics, and offering a fully integrated solution that can flex with your service.
- How do you handle patient questions, billing escalations, etc.?
Under the Triple Aim, patient experience does not end once the patient arrives at his or her destination – it spans the entire care journey, from dispatch to bill pay. It is therefore paramount to ensure that patients are offered multiple payment options, easy access to billing details and customer service representatives who have the data they need to answer questions in real-time. By putting patients in the driver’s seat, you improve their satisfaction and get paid faster.
- What steps do you take to ensure patient bills get where they need to go?
For emergency transports, documenting patient insurance information can be a challenge. Whether the patient is unconscious or being treated for critical injuries, providing his or her mailing address is generally not top of mind. To ensure your team can remain focused on patient care, look for a billing partner who goes the extra mile to ensure you optimize your revenue, such as facilitating direct access to hospital admittance and discharge records.
- How interoperable is your solution?
Lack of sufficient data management is one of the most common gaps that contributes to revenue loss. Data is most valuable when it can be shared and converted into actionable insights. To accomplish this, all technology that touches your billing process must be integrated – from dispatch systems and ePCRs to billing systems.
- What training is provided during implementation and onboarding to ensure quick and successful adoption of new technologies?
Lack of adequate training on new technologies can have a significant, negative impact on a team’s performance and morale, resulting in operational inefficiencies, data gaps and lost revenue. To set your team up for success, look for a billing partner who includes a comprehensive training program based on well-defined, road-tested protocols – including system documentation, user guides and evaluations – during the onboarding process.
- What analytics do you deliver and how do clients access these reports?
Continuous improvement requires up-to-date insights into revenue cycle performance and business operations. While some billing companies provide monthly or weekly reports into the most common billing metrics, they lack portability and actionability needed to accelerate cash flows. For busy agency leaders who are always on the go, you will need access to real-time reports – at any time and from anywhere – as well the option to set up personalized alerts that e-mail you a notification when certain benchmarks are not being met. It is equally important to ensure these metrics address the top 5 KPIs that drive cash flows: Daily Cash Deposits; Inventory Reporting; Cycle Time; Level of Service and Payor Mix; and Accounts Receivable Aging.
- How long will it take to get my new RCM solution up and running?
The onboarding process should be unique for each new relationship, including a comprehensive list of tasks to complete and – when dollars are on the line – no room for error. Depending on the size and complexity of the transition, a comprehensive onboarding – from the kick-off to system configuration to fully realized cash flow – should take between sixty and ninety days. If a billing vendor quotes less time, you should question what steps they are planning to leave out.
- How old is the technology that underpins your solution?
Our cloud-based technology boasts a modern user interface that was built for the era of mobility and of patients as consumers. By leveraging a platform purpose-built to support these new requirements, we are helping clients to maximize their revenue.
The answers to the questions listed above, while disregarded by most billing vendors, are points of pride for Integra Connect. Integra Connect currently processes over 4.6 million EMS transports per year and services 48 states across the US. We are the market leader in comprehensive end-to-end revenue cycle management technology and services for health system-based emergency medicine, EMS and hospitalist groups and have a track record of maximizing financial and operational success while advancing quality of patient service.