Ryan Thorne | January 30, 2018

How to Drive EMS Billing Efficiency (& Revenue) Like a PRO!

When you walk into a Subway sandwich shop, you are expected to pay for your sub before you eat it. What if, instead of paying for that 12-inch Subway Melt, you asked your Sandwich Artist to bill you for the sub? You would likely go hungry. Unfortunately, there are many ambulance providers that are going hungry. We are providing services and merely hoping for reimbursement, and our situation continues to get worse. With a reduction in reimbursement rates and increases in denials (or general non-payment), our expenses are growing while our revenues dwindle. Your EMTs and paramedics will not allow you to defer compensation until you are reimbursed for the care that they provide – they expect to be paid on time, every time. Don’t believe me? Get ready to run the trucks by yourself! A consistent cash flow is key to running a successful organization. If you can’t keep the lights on, how are you expected to care for people?

I rely solely on my billing department’s ability to collect on the claims that they bill.

 As a family-owned and operated ambulance provider, I don’t have any big-time investor that is ready to bail me out when times get tough. I rely solely on my billing department’s ability to collect on the claims that they bill. In addition, I expect my field providers to collect accurate demographics on the patients that they transport. In a perfect world, this should be sufficient to maximize your revenue potential – but the world of EMS is far from perfect.

 

The Immediate Impact of RescueNet Billing Pro: Increased Revenue

In May of 2017, while attending ZOLL SUMMIT in Denver, my billing department was introduced to RescueNet Billing Pro. Within moments of my team leaving their introductory meeting, I was cornered by them in the conference hall. “We need this!” they proclaimed. Well, they were convincing, and within five minutes of the one-sided discussion, I was seeking out my ZOLL sales representative. (This one-sided discussion has nothing to do with the fact that my mother is one of my billers…)

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The impact was immediate. We now have access to payer information within seconds – to include whether the patient has met their deductible, or even if the patient is enrolled in hospice care. Our organization is also able to identify secondary payers that may or may not have been provided by the patient or sending facility. In some cases, a healthcare facility would provide our organization with primary payer information, only to find out weeks later that the claim was denied because another payer was intended as the primary payer – additional billing lag that our organization doesn’t need. In addition, the credit score function provided us a realistic expectation of the patient’s propensity to pay.

Having immediate access to this information assisted our organization in the development of new billing workflows. We no longer pursued all “self-pay” claims in the same way – we separated them based on the patient’s likelihood to pay. Now, instead of handing our collection’s agency a freebie, they are handling only the most difficult claims. This is saving my billing department time and money, allowing them to focus on the real revenue potential.

 

Billing Pro Enabled Thorne Ambulance to Invest in Growth

Implementing Billing Pro has literally changed the landscape of our organization. We have been able to stabilize our cash flows, allowing for greater long-term planning and strategic growth. Looking for proof? In 2017, Thorne Ambulance purchased six brand new ambulances and power stretchers to assist in the growth of our fleet. As an organization that responds to approximately 14,000 calls per year, this was a major accomplishment for us, and gave further proof of our commitment to our patients and providers.

 The ability to invest in growth keeps us competitive with even the largest ambulance providers in our area. 

The ability to invest in growth keeps us competitive with even the largest ambulance providers in our area. Where other providers struggle to collect revenues, our organization is actively growing and expanding to meet the demands of the industry and the specific geographic areas that we serve. Furthermore, stable cash flows have allowed for an increase in administrative staff, giving me the ability to focus more on long-term planning, marketing and quality.

 

Integration with Additional EMS Software Made the Transition Seamless

Technology is a major driver in operational efficiency. The ability to integrate Billing Pro into our current software suite has drastically improved our financial situation, and with minimal additional training. Because our billing staff was already familiar with the layout of RescueNet Billing, the transition to Billing Pro was virtually instantaneous. This software wasn’t an added hindrance, but a helpful addition.

As a business owner, Billing Pro has literally provided me with peace of mind. I feel my ability to manage the organization, create goals and implement new growth strategies have been positively impacted by Billing Pro. And those billers that cornered me back in May? They are ecstatic about the product and its capabilities. Instead of throwing a number of claims into a “claim on hold” bucket, our billers are usually able to obtain the missing information in seconds after employing the power of Billing Pro. It has been a true win-win for our organization.

I highly encourage your organization to implement Billing Pro. This software pairs tremendously with RescueNet Billing and will positively impact your billing department. By increasing the productivity of your billing department, your entire organization has a great chance to succeed. If you’re not using Billing Pro, I would venture to guess that your billing lag is extensive, your A/R is likely out of control, and you struggle immensely with self-pay patients. Billing Pro will pay for itself over and over again, and make your organization standout within the industry.

 

About Thorne Ambulance

Thorne Ambulance Service is a family-owned and operated Advanced Life Support (ALS) provider located in Greenville, South Carolina. In November of 2012, Thorne transitioned from a third-party billing company to an internal billing operation. Thorne has used ZOLL’s RescueNet Billing software since bringing all billing functions in-house. Based on anticipated growth in 2018, Thorne now employs four full-time billing specialists.

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More About the Author:

Ryan Thorne

Ryan Thorne is Owner and CEO of Thorne Ambulance Service, based in Greenville, South Carolina. Prior to the creation of Thorne Ambulance, he worked for a high-volume EMS system in Spartanburg, South Carolina and a private ambulance provider in the greater Boston area. In addition to maintaining certification as a Nationally Registered Paramedic, he is also a certified EMS Training Officer and works with the Glassy Mountain Fire & Rescue Department as a Firefighter/Paramedic and the Laurens County Fire Service as a volunteer Firefighter. Thorne is a 2017 EMS Pulse Award recipient and presents regularly at EMS conferences. Contact him at Rthorne@thorneambulance.com or 864-382-9659 x108.