In-house or outsourced medical billing and coding have their own advantages and disadvantages depending on the size and the needs of the physical therapy practice.

Nitin Chhoda elaborates the differences between these two methods, and how to maximize the billing and coding process for your business.

medical billing and codingMedical billing and coding are one of the most important tasks for practice owners to consider.

However, many are unsure whether to maintain a billing and coding department on-site or outsource the entire operation to a specialty firm.

In-House or Outsourced?

Both methods have their own set of advantages, but many therapists are finding they have the same set of tools available in their EMR as those offered by medical and billing companies.

Therapists have always had the option of outsourcing their medical billing and coding tasks, but it’s a major expense that may not be necessary with the implementation of an EMR. Physical therapy documentation software allows clinicians to submit bills electronically themselves, but they may still want to consider hiring a professional coder to work with the EMR.

Outsourcing Options and Benefits

Outsourcing medical billing and coding needs provide practices with a one-stop solution that takes the reimbursement process out of the office and places it in the hands of companies that employ trained coders who handle all the submissions and details. Such firms can verify insurance information and authorizations, reconcile accounts, and provide code checking and analysis services.

medical billing and coding optionsThe same firms can conduct audits to help clinics operate more efficiently and provide training for staff on medical billing and coding-related issues.

They eliminate the need for purchasing and establishing hardware and software infrastructure.

Outsourcing also negates the need to hire a professional coder and the associated expenses of a salary, insurance and benefits.

Coding and billing firms are HIPAA compliant and feature a rapid turnaround time for reimbursements.

They reduce the work associated with billing, providing therapists with more time to see clients. For some clinics, it’s an ideal situation. For smaller practices, it may be an added expense that the clinician simply can’t afford.

In-House EMR Advantages

Therapists using an EMR can send reimbursement claims individually or via batch filing. Therapists must implement an EMR by 2014 and EMRs contain their own medical billing and coding abilities.

It just makes sense to utilize the technology to handle a task that affects the financial stability and security of a practice. Since therapists must implement an EMR anyway, there’s no good financial reason to spend additional funds contracting with an outside firm.

An EMR provides therapists with all the services offered by a medical billing and coding firm, along with updated ICD-10 coding changes. Electronic submissions allow therapists to collect their fees quicker and they can be automatically deposited in the clinic’s account. EMRs are HIPAA compliant for security and safety, and enables users to conduct audits on the state of the practice.

EMRs offer the ability to verify client insurance information and eligibility, collect one-time and recurring payments from patients, and send balance reminders to clients in the form of email, text and voice messages.Clinicians can conduct medical billing and coding tasks themselves, or hire a certified professional versed in the intricacies of the EMR, new codes and EMR documentation systems.

Balance Cost and Convenience

In the final examination, all therapists must balance cost and convenience. Outsourcing to a medical billing and coding firm eliminates the need for an on-site coder and facilitates a quick turnaround on reimbursements, but the cost may be prohibitive.

EMRs are designed with the ability to manage patient accounts, submit claims electronically, and collect from patients online. Therapists must implement an EMR by 2014 and many are discovering that they don’t need to outsource medical billing and coding when they can accomplish the same tasks with their EMR.