Practice Management for Growing Behavioral Health Practices and Professional Billing Services
How automation with Valant for practice management equates to quality and growth
Jacob Hamm offers a unique perspective as a Valant user in two separate roles: a practice manager for Gulf Coast Behavioral Health, and later the owner and principal of Practice Management Consulting, a professional service provider for psychiatric practice management.
Gulf Coast Behavioral Health’s team of dedicated psychiatrists, therapists, and psychiatric nurse practitioners provide excellent care in Florida’s Suncoast. Founded in 1996 as A&M Psychiatric Services, GCBH specializes in psychiatric and behavioral health services for children, teens, and adults on an individual or family basis.
Practice Management Consulting is a full service billing and consulting firm for behavioral health providers. Through effective management of accounts receivable and improvement of practice processes and procedures, PMC increases profitability for psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and therapists alike.
The Challenge at GCBH
During his time as a practice manager at GCBH, Hamm faced several challenges. To handle its workflows, the practice was still relying the same locally-installed software solution it had originally purchased in 1996. It could not account for the ever-changing nature of healthcare, however, and GCBH struggled to keep up with the evolving requirements of HIPAA, CMS, and state-level compliance. Keeping abreast with behavioral health regulations required constant installation of software updates or even the occasional manual entry workaround. This became a notable strain on the organization’s resources.
In addition, the on-site servers that GCBH had leased were coming up to the end of their contract and would no longer be HIPAA-compliant. The organization faced a tough choice: maintaining the practice’s in-house servers meant investing heavily into creating a HIPAA-compliant network (an estimated minimum of $10,000) and locking itself into another lease contract with its IT vendor, but the alternative was to come up with a brand new plan.
Having to devote so much effort into navigating these challenges meant Hamm and his colleagues were less able to spend time providing value for the practice.
Valant and GCBH
Though Hamm was tasked with coming up with an immediate fix to his organization’s challenges, his research led him to a long-term solution through Valant. The web-based nature of Valant meant the software stayed current with any changes in state or federal regulation, as the updates were handled entirely by the vendor. This not only removed the ongoing burden of having to vet the current technology against the newest round of CMS requirements, it provided a clear answer to Hamm’s concern over how to handle the company’s in-house servers.
“One of the important things that it did for us was really to go away from having to have a server in our office and having to have a HIPAA compliant server and network in our office because we don’t have to store anything on any of our office computers,” Hamm stated. “Everything is now stored in Valant.”
Because Valant could shoulder the responsibility of federal regulatory compliance and data storage for GCBH, Hamm had more time to devote to other responsibilities.
Continuing with Valant at PMC
After his time at GCBH, Hamm started up PMC. The new firm specialized in billing and consulting for behavioral health providers, and GCBH was its first client. Hamm decided to keep Valant for his business, out of both familiarity and confidence in the product.
“I always tell all of my clients I sell peace of mind,” said Hamm. “Peace of mind in knowing that you have a software that’s HIPAA-compliant that you can access anywhere that houses all the data and everything you need.”
Valant was initially conceived in 2005 to help behavioral health billers navigate the complexity of their workflows. Though it has since grown into a full EHR with integrated practice management for psychiatrists and therapists, Valant’s powerful functionality continues to ease the friction common in the collaboration between service providers, insurance, and clearing houses. For businesses like PMC, preoccupation of administrative nuances stands firmly in the way of timely turn-arounds for clients. This not only affects the quality of service that organizations like PMC can provide, it limits time that could otherwise be allocated toward business development.
In a system as fraught with regulation as behavioral health care services, it is easy for well-meaning organizations to get caught in systematic delays. These delays equate to severe detriments in client relationships and growth opportunities, particularly for small and medium non-enterprise businesses.
Hamm’s experience as both a practice manager for a behavioral health practice and as the owner of a professional service provider for behavioral health practices accounts for the value that Valant provides through its automation of complex processes. Delivering results in a timely manner is necessary for any behavioral health organization to flourish. Through Valant, Hamm was able to significantly reduce the turnaround times that his customers had unfortunately grown accustomed to through other billing services.
In the cases where the practices, too, were using Valant, they had immediate access to the reports that Hamm would have otherwise needed to send by conventional means.
Without having to spend so much time ensuring regulatory compliance, performing work-arounds, or doing intense administrative work, group psychiatry practices and billers are able to instead offer their skills and talents or further develop their businesses.
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