Saturday, September 23, 2023

Courses in Medical Billing and Other Resources for the Billing Professional

Courses in medical billing can help even the most seasoned professional enhance their skills and knowledge. We’ve selected what we feel to be some of the best resources available–and all at an affordable price. We’ve done the research and truly believe these courses and e-books to be relevant and spot-on, giving practical and useful information.

Leaving the relative “safety” of being an employee at a medical practitioner’s office, hospital, or clinic can be a bit intimidating, but by thoroughly researching and planning your options you can make a smooth transition to becoming your own boss.

Capitalize on Your Expertise. With experience working in medical billing, you have a huge leg up on others who find opening their own medical billing business from home intriguing but have no experience in the field; for many people, this is one of the top home based business ideas they are considering. You know the details of the billing and reimbursement cycle and the ins and outs of working with insurance companies. You are comfortable with the day to day aspects of the job and familiar with what it takes to get the job done right.

What you may not be an expert on is running your own business. You will need to become, if not an expert, at least conversant about such business aspects as writing a business plan, writing contracts, budgeting, marketing, advertising, and running a small business.

Fortunately, you don’t need to re-invent the wheel. David, one of our partners here at Everything Medical Billing who owns a medical billing business, spent a lot of time researching a number of publications (and screened out quite a few of them which offer little useful information–there are many) to see if they are actually useful–or not.

He found a mother-daughter team of experienced medical billers who have run their own home based medical billing business for years. Alice and Michele have put together an “Experienced Medical Billers Package” which covers many of the topics you will need to be successful:

Get your office in order. A dedicated room in your home is ideal, but if space is not available, you can carve a corner out of a bedroom, family room or basement to set up your computer/internet, fax machine, scanner/copier, and phone. You will want to find a place free from distractions that your home may have (kids, pets, tv, etc.) and that will be quiet enough to maintain a professional atmosphere as you make calls. Although home offices are becoming more widespread, dogs barking and kids asking for lunch in the background do not promote professionalism.

Choose your software and clearing house (be sure they are compatible—see our separate Clearing House and Software pages for more details on how to ensure this). One reason this is among the top home-based business ideas is that the startup costs are relatively low compared to other business ideas which require inventory or other investment in goods or supplies.

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Plan for a reduction in income, at least at first.  David and Amy, two of our partners at Everything Medical Billing, underestimated how long it would take to start producing revenue with their fledgling medical billing business when they started it more than two decades ago–they found themselves in the unenviable position of using their credit cards to finance their living expenses for a number of months. This was the biggest unexpected expense they failed to plan for, and it needs to be figured into your business plan.

Your income, like David and Amy’s, will probably not be what it was when you were an employee, and you would be wise to plan for it to take a longer rather than a shorter time, just in case. Before you make make the move, try to set aside some money to cover the (hopefully temporary) shortfall.

Tapping into a home equity line of credit or another lower interest loan is probably preferable to using credit cards. But as you increase your number of clients, your income will also increase, hopefully beyond what you were making when you worked for someone else, and make this top home based business idea a success.

Choose a Name For Your Company. Pick a professional sounding name that conveys what you do. Try not to use the name of your city or geographical area since that may limit your appeal to clients outside of the area in which you live. For example, David and Amy’s home based billing business has clients in states that are hundreds of miles apart—Some in the South where they started their business, and some in the Northeast where they currently live. Had they chosen a name tied specifically to Atlanta, or even Georgia in general, they would have a more difficult time convincing their current Northeast clients to work with them.Thanks to technology you can have clients in any area of the country and be an effective biller for them.

Use Your Connections to Get Clients: As an employee, you have a working relationship with at least one doctor–your boss–and a proven track record in the medical billing field. By far, the biggest (and sometimes the most difficult) task at hand is to sign up your first client. The doctors you work with now can be an invaluable resource. They know other doctors and may know which ones may be either looking to start to outsource their billing or who may be unhappy with their present medical billing service. Leverage this knowledge into an introduction by the doc you know; that personal connection will carry much more value than a cold call will ever give you. Even if your current employer doesn’t know of anyone in need of an experienced biller, he will hopefully be willing to give you a good reference and vouch for your expertise and experience.

Write a Contract. Spell out all your terms, pricing, services you will provide, what the provider will be responsible for, and more (“How to Write a Kick-Butt Contract for Your Medical Billing Service” is part of the Experienced Billers Package we mentioned above and is a great resource—it’s also available separately on in our “Medical Billing Books” section). A contract protects you and also alleviates any misunderstanding about what services you will be providing.

Decide whether you will charge a “flat fee” or percentage based fee. When David and Amy pitched their first doctors, they proposed the flat fee type; this did not work well for them and they switched to a percentage based fee, which became a selling feature: how much they made was tied to how much money they were able to collect for the doctor–if they collected more, they got paid more. The doctors they worked with really liked the fact that  David and Amy had more of a personal incentive to work hard for them.

Utilize a Mentor. If you know others in the medical billing field who have successfully started their own medical billing business from home, use their expertise to help you along the way. That’s what David and Amy did–they contacted an acquaintance named Bill who had a successful billing business from home; he was very generous with his time and advice, and it saved them from making more than a few mistakes. It turns out someone had been willing to help Bill when he first started out, and he was glad to return the favor–most people are happy to help someone, since chances are good that someone helped them too. As long as you try not to encroach on their territory, most folks are glad to give you the same help they once received themselves, since this is one of the top home based business ideas and they were probably  where you are now at one time.

Create a Website. Attract clients and project an air of professionalism by creating your own website. Most people expect to be able to find you online, and providing your own website makes it easy for them to get in contact with you. Building your own site need not be complex and you can build as many or as few pages as you see a need for. Not only will you potentially attract a client, but you will also lend real credibility to your business by allowing them to check you out online before they commit to signing up with you. See more by going from this top home based business ideas page to our Website section.

Stick With It and Work Hard. If anyone tells you running your own business is easy, they probably don’t own their own business! To be successful, you need to put in the hours and make a real commitment to stay the course and make it happen. David and Amy made more than 100 presentations to doctors trying to get their first client–they could easily have given up long before that, but by persevering they were able to successfully launch their business, and grow it to what it is today.

Working from home has many distractions; try to set regular business hours, just like you were going to work, and stick to them. Yes, the laundry is piling up and the lawn needs to be mowed; but when you were working in an office, those tasks were done after business hours. So resist the urge to do them during business hours. Of course, one of the reasons this is one of the top home based business ideas is that you do have flexibility—if you want to go see your daughter’s lacrosse game in the middle of the afternoon, you can. Just realize that you may be working into the evening to catch up.

With your expertise in the field, you can make one of the top home based business ideas a reality and become your own boss.

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