The HITECH Stimulus program is in full swing, and many of you may be shopping for a new or replacement Electronic Health Record (EHR). While implementing EHR is important to the future of your practice, the health of your billing system is even more important. Cash flow is the lifeblood of your practice. Without efficient billing, your revenues will decline, and you will be unable to care for your patients.
EHR systems should exchange data with your billing system in two directions: importing demographic information to the EHR, and pushing charges into the billing system. Re-keying information into your billing system is not only time-consuming, it also leads to data entry errors. As you know, even the smallest error can result in denied claims.
Industry experts agree you should not change or adopt an EHR and switch your billing system at the same time. Slowing down your clinical volumes and your billing at the same time can result in a heavy financial burden. Not only will your billing slow down as the staff learns the new system, you may also have to set up all your insurance profiles again. In addition, you may encounter some delay in working with a new clearinghouse.
Next, you have to decide between a single vendor for EHR and billing or the “best of breed” strategy where EHR and billing come from different vendors. There are benefits and drawbacks to each. Using a single vendor is a popular choice for those who only want to call one number for support.
However, combined EHR and billing systems may still be separate systems joined together under a common graphic user interface (GUI). Combined systems usually start life as either an EHR or billing system, and the other piece is either developed later, or acquired through a merger. If the vendor’s expertise was in EHR, the billing system may not be as good, or vice versa.
“Best of breed” is a good choice if you are happy with your current billing system. There is no reason to change your current system if it works well. More often than not, your new EHR will be able to integrate with your current billing system. Although you will pay a fee for integration, it will usually be more economical than purchasing a new system.
Best of breed is not without its problems. Make sure the maintenance, support, and updates for your billing system are paid in full. Otherwise, your system may not be able to interoperate with the new EHR. Also, be sure to consult your vendor to make sure they will work with another EHR system. In most cases they will, because they want to keep you as a customer.
If you have questions about billing system integration, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you.