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A guide to determine the best billing model for your private practice.

Efficient, cost-effective, and accurate billing is the backbone of a healthy behavioral health practice. As the owner of a private practice, you have to determine the most economical way to execute billing tasks. Below we break down three billing options to help you determine the best solution for your practice.

DYOB (Do your own billing)

Billing for a private behavioral health practice is no small feat, especially if you accept insurance. By being your own biller, you are committing yourself to spending several hours per week on billing related tasks. That includes checking patient benefits eligibility, following up on problem claims, generating bills, and submitting and reconciling claims. Tools like an EHR with integrated billing software can make these tasks feasible, but it is important not to overlook the cost saved by doing it yourself versus the opportunity cost of your time.

Estimate how many hours per week you spend taking care of these billing and administrative tasks, then compare it to what you could have made if you spent those hours seeing clients. (Consider also how these tasks may have cut into your personal time each week.) Comparing billable and non-billable hours will help you determine if it is more cost-effective to do your own billing or if it is better to hire help: either your own biller or an outsourced professional service.

In-house biller vs billing service

If you have determined that you are not as productive as you want to be, or actually losing money by trying to do your own billing, it is time to evaluate the pros and cons of hiring an in-house biller compared to hiring a billing service.

In-house billers lessen turnaround times for communications and requests. It also gives you the opportunity as a business owner to have more insight and oversight to billing metrics through reports located in an integrated EHR and practice management software. Having an employee in office to collect co-pays or cash payments is also beneficial as it always easier to collect payment right away as opposed to later over phone or through invoice.

However, while having an in-house biller is ideal, it is not always feasible for a solo or small practice to budget for an extra employee’s salary. A billing service may be more economical, depending on the percentage they charge. Based on your current revenue, ask yourself if it is more cost-effective to sacrifice 5-15% of your collections to a billing service, or if it is more cost-effective to hire an in-house biller.