Creating a Good Medical Billing Environment

Just the other day a blog post landed in my inbox referencing suggestions for a ‘Good Road Trip’.  It made me think, everyone can relate to this.  Who hasn’t at one time or another experienced a road trip?

Maybe you were stuffed into the backseat of the family car with your less than agreeable siblings, cruising down the highway at the blistering speed of 55 MPH for what seemed like an eternity to get to that paradise of Disney World or some other wonderful childhood entertainment mecca.

You might have crammed yourself and half a dozen of your closest college buddies into that same old family car; driving “straight through” just to be able to bask in the sun and get sand in your toes, and everywhere else, for just a few springtime days.

spring break road trip

So with those experiences in mind, here are the suggestions I found and they do make a lot of sense:

  1. Make sure there’s enough room. Agree: this eliminates the “Stop touching me” argument!
  2. Pick your playlist.Agree: music calms the savage beast and sing-alongs are great fun!
  3. Pick a good restaurant.Agree: people get grumpy when hungry!
  4. Download Voxer. Agree: modern day “CBs” if you have more than one car!
  5. Enjoy not flying.  Agree: almost every state has good scenery, appreciate it!
  6. Take a break.  Agree: get out, take a walk, get fresh air, it clears the mind!

As this is a “Biller’s Blog” it’s time for the tie in, right?  Well here it goes.  I would guarantee that every medical biller out there has at one time or another been stuck in the room the size of one of those supersized luxury SUVs with at least one, maybe two, or (gosh I hope not) three other people.  And you are not there for the few hours it takes to get to your awaiting Nirvana, it is for 8 whole (or maybe more) hours a day, 5 days a week.  YIKES!

Now that you see where I am going, let’s translate those suggestions into “How to Create a Good Medical Billing Environment.”
1. Make sure there’s enough room. I am so glad this was listed as #1 in the article, because this is first and foremost my most important point.  All the other tips can be made void and useless if this is not adhered to.
I suffered for many years in a room about 10’ x 10’ and no, it was not a jail cell.  It was the hospital’s “generous” gift of space to the radiation oncologists I worked for to use as their billing office.  This windowless tomb contained: 3 workers, 3 desks, 3 computers,  3 printers, 3 telephones, 2 bookcases,1 fax machine, 1 credit card terminal,1 paper shredder, and if this was a Christmas carol, a partridge in a pear tree.  
Definitely close quarters.  We had to coordinate the use of printers, faxing, shredding and phone calls between each other and around clients who may come in to discuss a bill, etc. This was not the most efficient way to work and also presented a “too close for comfort” issue in regards to personal matters on more than one occasion.
In order for billing staff to have the ability to focus on the intricate details necessary to properly perform their job, adequate space is crucial.
2. Pick your playlist.  This one is so much a “common sense” item; some people need a little “background” music to work.  I get that. 
It’s okay if you want to spend your weekends with glow sticks at a rave, slam dancing in a mosh pit or even square dancing around the community center, but no one wants to listen to that stuff in the office.  I am not suggesting you listen to that coma inducing “elevator” music either, just keep it simple, middle of the road stuff.  And keep it quiet, you will need to be able to talk over it easily and hear others speaking to you as well. 
3. Pick a good restaurant.  My take on this item is: hungry people (and people without their coffee) are grumpy people and they have trouble focusing, except on how hungry they are (or how much they want a cup of coffee).
If you know that skipping breakfast makes you starving by 10AM, pack a snack.  If you have a hard time getting out of the building for lunch, then pack a sandwich.  If your co-worker is constantly hungry (and grumpy and not focused), pack her/him a snack. 
The moral of this story is feed your body, it feeds your brain and that’s how you do your best work.  Also, make sure your break room is stocked with coffee and supplies!
4. Download Voxer.  We are now talking about communication.  This is often touted as the key to a good romantic relationship.  This is also necessary for good work relationships. 
It is important to know what tasks each person is responsible for in the billing office and have policies in place for how they are coordinated among the staff.  If certain tasks “overlap”, workers should make sure that others know the status of that shared project.
No one has time to repeat the same work as someone else in the office.
You should also let other personnel like front office staff, nursing staff and the physicians know who the “go to” person is for a specific request.  For instance to ask the accounts receivables specialist to get an authorization for a patient is definitely not the most efficient way to get things done. 
5. Enjoy not flying.  Above I alluded to every state having something to see, well in an office, every person has value.
Get to know the strengths (and weaknesses) of everyone in the office.  Utilize this knowledge to facilitate assigning specific responsibilities.    Diplomacy is not unique to the United Nations, in close quarters like an office, being aware of the personalities of the staff can prevent  a mild conflict from escalating into a Human Resources emergency.
6. Take a break.  Coffee breaks, lunch breaks and vacations, each serve the purpose of giving us time to recharge and rejuvenate. 
A lunchtime walk in the park, catching up on current events in the newspaper, and an out of town adventure, are all good ways to get a fresh mind and relaxed body. (I would not suggest the paper airplane, but some good hearted humor goes a long way in making everyone’s day brighter.)
Taking time to step away from the work produces more clear thinking, enthusiasm and productivity.  It also makes for a happier employee.
So if you can picture your situation to be like a road trip, and follow these suggestions you will have all the key elements to having a successful and harmonious medical billing office.