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Don’t Forget the Importance of Medical Billing

by Andrew Scutro, Senior Associate, Communications

OK, OK, it’s not Meaningful Use. It’s not even about EHR. It’s not sexy at all. We know that. We get it.

While we write quite often in this blog about health information exchange and electronic health records, this company still exists to make sure medical practices, no matter the size, get paid for the care they deliver. Doing that means filing clean claims for our client practices through our medical billing service, athenaCollector. By all accounts, it works great, thanks in part to our co-sourcing model that dictates we don’t get paid unless our clients get paid. Some call that ‘having skin in the game.’

Just like any business, a medical practice needs to get paid for the services it provides. But we have clients who have also used athenaCollector to grow their practices. Having athenahealth teams taking care of the back-office work has allowed physician practices to not only survive an often hostile business environment, but to thrive.

Take Hudson Headwaters Health Network, which serves 60,000 patients in the Adirondacks. In late 2007, they were on the financial brink and in serious need of help. George Purdue, who grew up in the area and serves as chief administrative officer at HHHN, looks back saying, “We realized that our practice management system was crippling us.” To make a long story short, they began using athenaCollector in April 2009 and, by the end of 2010, had dropped days in accounts receivable by 26%, and were no longer fretting about making payroll.

Then there’s Rosedale Infectious Diseases outside Charlotte, N.C. Practice manager Dale Pierce says they were able to grow their practice once the efficiencies of medical billing through athenahealth became apparent:

When we opened the practice in 2006 and found this building, we were at one third of the size that we are now. Being able to take the support that we’ve gotten from athenahealth and our increased revenue streams, we’re able to expand the building not only by 66%; we’ve increased our patient base. We’re adding a new provider this spring, a new medical provider, a physician’s assistant to allow us to see more patients.  We’ve added more general clinical staff, support staff, administrative staff and pretty much all of that was based on our increased ability with collections. If we didn’t have that revenue stream and if that wasn’t made possible through athenahealth, we would still be back in a four-room building with the four staff and I probably wouldn’t be working here right now because I would have lost my mind by then. 

We have more stories like these and we’ll keep telling them. And just know the guy at the top is all about medical billing too. Back in April 2011, Jonathan Bush made a point of writing about the importance of getting the revenue cycle part right. You should see what he had to say.

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