The Smart Medical Practice

Vanessa Higgins of The Billing Department Inc. On Revenue Cycle Management


Expert Interview Series: Vanessa Higgins of The Billing Department Inc.
Vanessa Higgins is the owner of, The Billing Department Inc., a growing billing company that specializes in helping small healthcare providers succeed.

We recently checked in with Vanessa to get her insight on revenue cycle management and the future of medical billing. Here’s what she had to say:

Tell us the story behind the Billing Department.

The Billing Department comes from a long line of jobs working in-house for all different types of healthcare providers, as well as my own parents! Both of my parents were in private practice when I was growing up. Around 16, my father decided one of my household chores would be doing his billing. He would plop his old Brother Word Processor (I am dating myself) at my bedroom door with his patient files. Back then, billing was much different, before Managed Care. I’ve stayed with billing and have seen many changes. I enjoy the work we do and continue to feel blessed every day for my clients and new clients that come to us.

How did you get into revenue cycle management?

After graduating from college, I started working for a podiatrist. He was just starting out and very enthusiastic about billing. I learned a lot and continued to grow from there.

What differentiates your business from others in your field?

We specialize in working for small- to medium-sized providers. We work closely with our providers and really become an extension of their office. We provide a very personal touch. I also feel very strongly that although we may not always agree with our clients and their patients, we can always be compassionate and respectful. If our client has an issue or concern, we really take it seriously and work hard to resolve any problems. We do want our clients to be happy. It makes the entire billing process work much better.

How has revenue cycle management evolved since you started your business?

It has certainly become more complex. I think it is getting much harder for providers to manage their billing in-house. Hiring a billing company is now more the norm, much more so when I first started out.

How do you help your clients better understand the life cycle of a claim?

Education! We really believe the more they understand, the better it is for us. So often when I’m meeting with a potential new client, the topic of trust comes up. I don’t think providers should just trust their billing is being done well. They need to be able to know how to evaluate that. We help them do that through reports and our software. We also set up systems that allow for tracking of information. We can work with provider bookkeeper to perform month-end closes and audits of their accounts.

Where do you find are the biggest misunderstandings or misconceptions about the claims cycle?

Providers have to understand this is an evolving process. It seems every time we think we have it figured out, it changes! When we give information, no matter how much we think we know the answer, we always research it. It is always changing.

What advice do you find yourself repeating to clients over and over about how they can improve revenue cycle management?

Setting up good solid systems for obtaining accurate information for the initial billing process and doing a Credit Card on File Program with their patients for self-pay balances.

How has the Affordable Care Act affected your business?

It has probably increased the number of insured, but it has definitely not solved the problem of patient’s being responsible for so much more. Patients have such large deductibles and out-of-pockets to meet. I’m certain it impacts their visits to doctors and other healthcare providers.

What about patient care?

Most of our providers are making less than they made 10 years ago. Hopefully, this trend of paying less for healthcare does not continue, or eventually it will undoubtedly impact patient care.

What trends, innovations or headlines are you following in your field right now? Why are they important to you?

I’m very interested in how we are all paying more for our health insurance premiums, yet the payers are paying for less of our claims. And, providers are being paid less. I’m extremely confused as to where all of this money is going. It does not seem to be going to patients or providers.

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