As an ABA therapy practitioner, you already understand how time-consuming ABA therapy billing is. The process of capturing and submitting claims of ABA billing is not only time-consuming, but also requires specialist expertise due to regular changes in ABA billing codes. Thankfully, it’s possible to simplify manual ABA therapy billing by switching to automated ABA therapy billing.
Before we take a closer look at how to do this, let’s look at exactly what ABA therapy billing is, the downsides of manual billing, the benefits of automated billing, the importance of choosing the right billing software, and how to switch from a manual to an automated ABA therapy billing system.
What is ABA therapy billing?
In order for any ABA therapy practitioner to be paid, they first have to bill for their services. On the surface, this is all that there is to ABA therapy billing. However, the actual process of billing can be quite complicated. Claims to medical insurers require a whole range of information, such as the patient’s details and correct CPT billing codes, within a specific timeframe. If this is done correctly, the practitioner will receive payment for the ABA therapy work they’ve provided.
All this can be done in one of two ways: manual billing, or automated billing.
Manual billing is the process of manually going through each claim and submitting it to the relevant party using the correct forms. This means manually capturing all the details, such as a patient’s personal, insurance, and referral information, as well as CPT codes, that are required for a claim. You’ll then have to submit them yourself through specific analog claims channels, such as a mail-in claim form.
Automated billing is similar to manual billing in that it requires all the same information, but many of the different steps are handled automatically by digital billing tools. For example, some ABA therapy billing software solutions will automatically submit invoices, while some ABA billing software tools can also track claims and give you regular status updates, ensuring that you’re paid on time.
Manual billing may be how people have billed for their ABA therapy services for decades, but many practices are switching — or have already switched over — to automated billing. Let’s take a look at the downsides of manual billing.
The downsides of manual ABA therapy billing systems
Even if you’re familiar with manual billing and think you have a relatively efficient manual billing system, there are many downsides to this billing method.
1. Slower and more inefficient
If you’re running a manual, paper-based billing system, it’s going to be much slower than running a digital, automated billing system. Your staff will need to manually fill in paper forms, prep them for submission and post them — and then wait for the files to be reviewed and returned if any corrections are necessary.
2. Greater chance of errors
As you’d expect in a situation where a person is handling all of the data capture and data entry by hand, there’s a greater chance of errors creeping in, leading to issues like rejected claims further down the line.
3. Typically greater operation costs
Unless you’re running a very small practice, running manual billing usually leads to relatively higher operation costs. This is because you need sufficient staff to ensure that your records are correctly maintained and stored, billing is processed on time, and the necessary funds to cover the resources they need, such as paper for printing forms and stationery. Finally, you need to cover any costs associated with posting mail-in claims.
4. Greater risk to patient data
When you store patient information on paper, there’s a greater risk of it being damaged or lost. Even under the best circumstances, there’s a chance that parts of a patient’s file might be misplaced. In the event of a serious accident, such as a fire, there’s also a much greater risk that all your patient information will be lost.
5. Less environmentally friendly
Manual submission systems involve a lot of paper. This is because the majority of your patient data is stored in paper files. Claims must also be made using printed-out forms, and copies made of your claims to ensure that you have a copy for your records.
The benefits of automated ABA therapy billing systems
While there may be a slight learning curve to digital automated ABA therapy billing, there’s no doubt that it offers numerous benefits over manual therapy billing systems.
1. Faster and more efficient claims processing
The most obvious benefit of automated therapy billing is that it’s simply faster. You don’t have to wait for claims to be physically transported via the post, or to wait for feedback and the return of a paper claim in the event there’s an issue with it. With automated digital systems, the files are sent virtually instantaneously and you receive regular updates about claims during each step of the process.
2. Easier to track the processing of claims
When you submit a claim using an automated digital system, you get various notifications regarding the processing of the claim. No need to either send an email or pick up the phone to find out whether a claim has been accepted or if it needs further revisions.
3. Improved data accuracy
Automated billing systems are designed to simplify many aspects of the billing process. For example, there may be auto-completing fields in specific forms for certain types of claims, meaning there’s less room for human error since the system inputs specific information for you.
4. Easier compliance with regulations
Many automated digital billing systems are built from the ground up to make it easy for healthcare practitioners to manage their practice’s billing. This means that the developers of these systems know that compliance is a critical part of your daily operations. Therefore, they’ll take the necessary steps to ensure that you’re compliant, such as automatically updating their systems to ensure data is correctly stored and protected, or setting digital forms to be automatically updated should additional information be required.
5. Better data security
Many software solutions will ensure the confidentiality of your data by encrypting it. This means that in the event that your IT system is compromised, a cybercriminal will not have access to the information contained in your files. Additionally, should something go wrong, such as computer hardware failing or damage being done to your computer systems by fire or floods, your billing software provider will have your files stored in the cloud, allowing you to easily access them once your computer systems are back up and running again.
6. Lower long-term operational costs
The initial costs of setting up digital billing systems will be higher since you’ll need to purchase computers and other IT hardware. And then, there are the costs associated with purchasing and maintaining your digital billing software. Over the long term, however, the benefits offered by automated digital billing systems will result in lower operational costs.
Advice on transitioning to automated ABA therapy billing
Now that you understand the reasons why so many other practices are moving away from traditional, manual ABA therapy billing, here’s some advice that will make the transition to digital automated billing systems easier.
1. Choose the right ABA billing software for your practice
If you’re switching to automated billing for your ABA practice, it’s important that you choose the right solution. We have a resource that covers in detail how to get started with ABA billing software, but here are the key points that you should keep in mind when choosing an ABA billing program for therapists:
- Pick a solution that scales so you can continue offering your patients a great service even as your practice grows.
- Choose a solution that has a user-friendly interface, making it easier for your staff to become familiar with.
- Ensure your workflow runs smoothly by choosing a solution that integrates with your existing systems as much as possible.
- The software that you choose must be customizable to the needs of your ABA therapy practice.
- Select a software solution that comes with excellent support so that you can get help when needed.
It’s also important that your new software actually helps you address specific problems you’re currently facing. Otherwise, you’ll still be stuck with your existing challenges, not to mention the new ones that may arise when switching over to a new system.
2. Pick the right IT hardware
If you aren’t clued up on computer hardware, it can be easy to accidentally spend thousands of dollars on systems that end up being completely incompatible with your software, or run it poorly at best. Speak to the software provider to ensure you get the right IT equipment, whether that’s computers, printers, or networking hardware. You may even find that the software provider can offer you the hardware you need to run their software, making the transition even easier.
3. Ensure your staff receive proper training
Even with the most intuitive digital automated billing software, there’s still going to be some sort of learning curve. These systems are new and different, so staff will need the necessary training to work with the new software properly. And yes, even though many aspects of digital billing are automated, there are still certain tasks that your staff will need to perform and that they’ll need to know how to do correctly using the new software.
4. Know there will still be a teething period
Even if you’ve planned every aspect of the transition to a new system down to the finest detail, chances are that something will still unexpectedly go wrong. Issues like incompatibility between systems, manually recapturing patient data, and other problems may appear while switching to your new automated system. During this teething period, it may even be necessary to run both systems until the new solution is operating without any issues.
It’s also critical that you remember that, even with training, it will still take your staff some time to get fully up to speed with the new billing system so that they can take advantage of all the benefits it offers.
However you choose to approach this transition, it’s important not to get discouraged and that you and your team give yourselves some time to deal with any potential issues that arise before immediately writing off the new system as worse than your old one.
5. Reach out for support if you need it
As mentioned earlier, it’s important that you choose a software solution that comes with support. Reach out to your software provider to get help with any problems related to their software, and maybe even consider bringing in some IT experts to help you set up your new hardware if necessary. Even if this seems time-consuming and expensive in the short term, it will undoubtedly be the most efficient in the long run.
Make the transition to automated billing even easier with Missing Piece
If you’re interested in a truly comprehensive billing solution that makes ABA therapy billing even easier than running your own digital automated billing system, you should consider Missing Piece.
Missing Piece is a dedicated ABA therapy billing provider that has been assisting practices across the United States for more than a decade. Our turn-key solution doesn’t just streamline billing — it handles billing for you. This not only makes it easier to run your practice, but also gives you the time to provide even higher quality care to your patients.
Contact us to learn more about Missing Piece’s ABA billing solution and the benefits it offers over manual ABA therapy billing or running your own in-house automated billing system.