Friday, September 26, 2014

The 3-Pronged Role of the EMS Billing Office

A Higher Calling
Every EMS billing office has a higher calling. Your EMS billing staff, whether they are in-house or you use an outsourcing company, like Enhanced Management Services, need to understand that without an adequate flow of dollars your EMS agency is not going to be the best it can be.

The 3-Pronged Role of the EMS Billing Office
Considering this, we have concluded that the EMS billing office plays a 3-pronged role in achieving that calling. The billing office must do these three things excellently in order to maintain optimum results…
  • Collect the most dollars possible
  • Represent your EMS agency compassionately
  • Provide necessary feedback

Collecting the most dollars possible
First and foremost is a commitment and dedication to bringing in every last dollar. Period!

This is the primary function of the EMS billing office and overrides all other goals.

If we are going to put top-notch vehicles on the street outfitted with as many whistles, bells and life-saving “toys” as we can possibly jam pack into a vehicle; there must be a sufficient flow of dollars moving into your agency’s bank accounts to make it happen.

Once the billing office personnel understand how important they are to what happens outside of the office window it should be very easy to motivate them to collect all they can collect.

But how will your billing office staff know unless they are informed? There must be continual ongoing dialogue with the billing office staff to remind them of the vital role that they play. The street side doesn’t happen unless the office side happens and the office side doesn’t happen unless the street side completes the tasks at hand.

Represent your EMS agency compassionately
The public recognizes your EMS agency by the faces they see when they are in need.

Of course the first faces patients see are the street providers that treat and transport them. But just as important is the other “face” they see after the run has been completed.

The billing office “face.”

Patients have a basic need of self-preservation. So when we suffer a potentially life-threatening illness or injury, we are taught to dial 9-1-1 and request EMS. At that time, we give no thought to who pays for the service. In our modern society, it’s a given someone will arrive and that someone will be your EMS agency.

After the shock of the event is over then bill arrives in the mailbox. That’s when your patient will suddenly be introduced to your billing office.

It is an absolute priority that all members of the billing staff treat people with compassion. Sure there are times when we billers must be firm, but we must be compassionate.

It is vital that we educate the billing staff about the persons they are interacting with. All of us must be reminded that these people are ill, have been injured and/or most likely have no clue how this EMS billing “thing” works. To most people we’re all just “ambulance drivers.”

We can’t expect them to get it, so we must be patient and compassionate to help them understand how the system works. The results of our efforts to collect more dollars will be directly affected by the compassion in our approach at all levels.

When people feel respected and cared for, they cooperate.

Provide necessary feedback
Last but not least, your billing office plays a vital role in providing necessary feedback.

Your EMS providers need to have a clear understanding of how difficult they can make the billers’ day if the biller is handed a Patient Care Report that isn’t complete. Your crews need to know that failing to obtain a signature from the patient delays cash flow by weeks and even sometimes by months…necessary cash flow that comprises their paychecks.

EMS providers need to understand that there’s no magic billing wand that fills in the blanks left in a PCR. Billing staff can’t read minds, we can’t fill gaps in documentation with assumptions and we’re not being nasty when we return a trip sheet to request you to look over to identify what information you may have forgotten.

In order to provide adequate feedback the billing office must also be able to filter, interpret and effectively report data. Everyone outside the billing office window needs to be informed about how what they do affects the bottom line and the numbers tell the story.

Of course, you may choose or not choose to share certain financial data, that’s your prerogative, but we strongly advocate keeping your staff in the know about how their actions affect the entire financial picture for your EMS agency. Plus, the billing office definitely needs to be empowered to share key reports with administrators and they can only do that if they have the capabilities to do so.

Good training, systems and technology empowers your billing office staff to provide the kind of feedback that will connect them together with what goes on outside the office window. Certainly, we’re a big advocate of outsourcing to fill those needs because with an outsourcing partner, such as Enhanced Management Services, you leverage all of the bullet points we’ve mentioned by tapping into a resource that does nothing but focus on these vital pieces of the puzzle.

We’re interested…
We’re interested to learn if your EMS billing office is proficient in fulfilling the 3-pronged role. We invite you to share your thoughts with us on this or any other topic that’s important to you.

The Ambulance Billing Services blog is provided as an educational tool by Enhanced Management Services, Inc. Enhanced is a third-party billing company serving the EMS industry with clients stretching across the U.S.A. You’ll find more information about Enhanced at
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