Andrea Stark: Take advantage of billers

Friday, October 31, 2008

Ever step into your biller’s shoes for a day? If you did, asserts reimbursement expert Andrea Stark, you’d get an eye-opening look at the day-to-day challenges that keep your reimbursement department operating at diminished capacity. Improving reimbursement results requires digging deep to uncover what’s holding your team back from optimum productivity and efficiency. Stark will offer her tips and strategies in “Doing More With Less-Tools and Services to Improve Productivity in Your Reimbursement Department” at Medtrade.

HME News: How productive are most reimbursement departments?

Andrea Stark: They’re probably operating at about 60% capacity. There are so many little things that bog them down. If HME owners brainstormed with their staff, they’d probably learn that they don’t even know how the day is spent. There are so many ankle-biter frustrations that are part of a biller’s job.

HME: What are the obstacles to reimbursement departments becoming more productive?

Stark: There’s always going to be pushback toward change. People may feel they’re efficient doing things the way they’ve always done them. Providers need to analyze the different areas where efficiencies can be found, such as contacting payers to find out which will accept electronic claims. You’re not taking full advantage of your billing system if you’re not doing this.

HME: Is the resistance to change strongest within reimbursement departments, or among HME owners themselves?

Stark: If it’s a minuscule change, you’ll get more resistance from lower-level staff. Then there are the big changes that lower-level staff will get excited about but cost a lot of money, so owners will show resistance. I recommend that owners roll out something new on a temporary basis, such as using a free trial of a service, before they commit or have staff use a new procedure as a pilot program.

HME: What are the characteristics that productive reimbursement departments share?

Stark: The top one is automation. It’s utilizing an efficient billing system with effective checks and balances, doing mail merges and sending claims electronically as often as possible. You have to take advantage of technology and streamline the process by having ready access to prescriptions and EOBs, and not manually combing through data when there’s a system that can do it for you. This seminar won’t bring you the end-all solution. You have to create a customized solution that works for you.

HME: If providers take away one piece of advice from your session, what would it be?

Stark: How to drop back and diagnose the areas that need improvement. Just because it’s been done this way doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do it. Envision the future of what could be starting where you are right now.

Andrea Stark Title/company: Founder of Columbia, S.C.-based consulting firm MiraVista Services provi