The billing and coding part of the caregiving process may give medical professionals headaches, but it is a necessary part of the healthcare system. With complex codes, the ICD-10 switch and HIPAA compliance, it's easy to forget what's most important – your patients.

While patients should always be the main concern for physicians, if billing and coding processes aren't properly handled, it might be time to find some assistance through a third-party vendor. Hiring a company might not seem like something you want your practice to do, but it can help improve office efficiency in a number of ways, including with HIPAA compliance. 

Less distractions in the practice
By reducing the amount of work associated with medical billing and coding from your practice's long list of administrative tasks, you and your employees can focus on other aspects of the practice. While the other work might not have as big of an impact on HIPAA, it can help with overall efficiency of the office. Rushed or overworked employees might have the tendency to make medical coding errors that will cost you in the long run.

If you don't hire a vendor, you'd have to either hire more in-house employees or rework your office procedures to reduce employee errors. This is time-consuming and can be more expensive than bringing a vendor in to help your practice. 

The vendor is responsible for HIPAA compliance as well
One of the biggest advantages of implementing medical billing and coding software is that it is held to HIPAA standards as well. This means that medical billing services must abide by the HIPAA Omnibus rule, which went into effect in 2013. This rule does not clear the practice of paying fees and other consequences associated with HIPAA violations. However, it does make the billing and coding company liable as well. It helps assure quality from medical billing and coding companies, but it is still important to make sure that you're implementing software that is streamlined and credible. Here are some things you should discuss with a medical billing and coding company before you consider installing the software:

  • Software and billing forms
    HIPAA standards continue to change as the health care industry becomes more technologically advanced. For this reason, it's a good idea to find out how the billing and coding software stays up to date. Discuss the forms that need to be used and filed, as well as EHR systems. Security is a major HIPAA concern and should be addressed when discussing medical software. 
  • Employees
    Health care professionals completing billing and coding work need to be trained in HIPAA compliance. Talk with the vendor to try and ascertain how well their employees are trained. Try to explain how important HIPAA compliance is to your practice. 
  • Patient data exchange
    HIPAA has standards on how information is shared. Patient data exchange between the practice and the billing company needs to be secure and HIPAA compliant. Discuss with the vendor how they plan to connect to your practices EHR to share data.