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Take the pain out of EMS billing

With the right software and services, EMS agencies can ensure their revenue streams flow in a simple, straightforward and reliable manner


Sponsored by AIM EMS Software & Services

By EMS1 BrandFocus Staff                                      

Now more than ever, EMS agencies need to consistently bill patients and insurance providers for services rendered.

EMS billing may not feel like a core service, but it's essential to keep departments running. The right software and services can reduce the burden.
EMS billing may not feel like a core service, but it's essential to keep departments running. The right software and services can reduce the burden. (Getty Images)

Call volumes and operational costs have risen dramatically in the past 10 years, forcing small/volunteer agencies to use paid medics when not enough volunteers are available to fill shifts. At the same time, a lack of funding is causing critical failures in these agencies’ response time, availability of continuing education and replacement of outdated and unsafe equipment.

Unfortunately, some patients are unable or unwilling to pay for their ambulance rides, often assuming that ambulance transport is a free public service without realizing that EMS agencies rely on these funds. Without properly executed collections and follow-up, these outstanding accounts can go unnoticed and ultimately unpaid.

Meanwhile, improperly filed and monitored EMS billings to insurance companies can go unpaid as well. Insurance revenue is the low-hanging fruit of EMS funding at a time when no EMS agency can afford to leave money on the table, so it’s critical that these claims are filed in a timely manner.

Why EMS billing is painful for small/volunteer EMS agencies

Unlike their larger government/corporate cousins, small/volunteer EMS agencies often lack the resources to run efficient billing departments. As a result, their patient accounts can be incomplete and contain incorrect data, making it difficult to invoice patients directly and ensure that their accounts are paid on time.

Minor errors, missing patient information and inconsistencies can add delays to an already burdensome process and can lead to filing errors with insurance providers, who will kick back claims due to wrong codes and other documentation errors.

Stretched for resources, small/volunteer EMS agencies often let the most troublesome overdue claims go unpaid. They are owed this money and desperately need it, but don’t have the wherewithal to pursue these claims to their rightful conclusion.

Software attuned to the needs of EMS agencies

One way to relieve the pain of EMS billing is to seek the help of an EMS-centric ePCR software provider like AIM EMS Software & Services (aka Ambulance Information Management). This company’s cloud-based EMS billing software and services have been created by EMS professionals who understand the unique nature of EMS billing and the challenges EMS agencies can face in getting their accounts paid promptly.

“The biggest misconception is that medical billing and EMS billing are interchangeable. They’re not,” said Michelle Corey, AIM’s vice president of operations.

Medical billing works with specific diagnoses, whereas EMS billing is based on the patient’s apparent condition.

“This means that coding and billing are done based on the electronic patient care report, which includes critical information about how the patient was found on scene, assessments results, procedures performed, medications administered, mileage and so much more,” said Corey. “AIM’s integrated ePCR and EMS billing software is attuned to these specific requirements, in an easy-to-use format that makes life simpler for EMS agencies.”

What AIM billing software provides to EMS agencies

AIM sees billing as the logical third step of an integrated patient care process. The first step is computer-aided dispatch. The second step is patient care.

To streamline billing, the data entered in steps one and two is used to automatically populate and track the invoices issued in step three, with the billing process being managed through a simple and clear web-based user interface. In this way, virtually all the data entry work associated with manual billing is already done by the time that the agency issues the invoice.

With AIM’s help, the right billing codes can be pre-programmed into the billing system to minimize errors and kickbacks from insurance providers. Integrating the ePCR process in this way substantially reduces the need for a dedicated billing department while putting efficient accounts receivable management within the reach of small/volunteer agencies.

AIM also automates the tracking and resolution of overdue accounts and accepts electronic payments to reduce human intervention. The result is that more accounts get paid promptly, substantially increasing EMS agency revenues.

Help when you need it

While small/volunteer EMS agencies may struggle with having resources to manually keep up with essential billing, larger EMS agencies have their own challenges.

EMS billing is complex and requires experience and expertise to keep up with all the moving parts. It’s not a skill easy to replace, so when an EMS billing professional takes a leave of absence, it can leave a big hole in capacity.

That’s where AIM’s billing services can step in, either temporarily to cover a gap or to take on billing for agencies whose circumstances may have changed and need a new business model.

“We can pick up where they left off to ensure they don’t have any disruption in their revenue stream until the gap in capacity is resolved,” said Corey.

AIM’s billing services professionals bring a breadth of knowledge of not only EMS billing, but also the entire gamut of the EMS workflow. Because it has complementary CAD and ePCR software that integrates with the billing software, AIM is uniquely suited to serve its clients throughout the entire process.

For more information, visit AIM EMS Software & Services.

Read next: 10 things holding up your billing and receiving

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