Mark Benson, MD, President, Radiology Associates Inc

How well does your medical billing service reflect your radiology practice? Will it allow your practice to grow and change with the times? What kind of relationship does your billing service provider have with your patients? These are important questions to consider when selecting any business partner, especially one that can significantly affect the success of your practice. Radiology Associates Inc (RAI) in Wheeling, WVa, is one practice that was growing beyond the capabilities of their local medical billing service. That’s when the practice decided to partner with HealthPro Medical Billing Inc to take them to the next level.

In 2000, RAI was covering one local hospital in Wheeling and had been using that hospital’s billing service. However, something was not adding up. Mark Benson, MD, president of Radiology Associates Inc, explained, “We found that we were seeing year over year that we were busier. We were getting home later and we were working longer, but the income was not growing. If we looked over a 3- or 4-year trend, our income was flat, but our volumes were growing at 5% to 10% a year.” At that point, Benson suggested an audit to investigate the troubling trend and to determine what could be done to turn things around. He also used this period to learn everything he could about radiology billing.

“When we saw the audit, we were not very happy with the results. We were losing a lot of [revenue] opportunity for a whole variety of reasons like inaccurate coding and claims follow-up, which were incomplete or not handled optimally, where claims were getting denied but the denial follow-up was not acted upon,” Benson said.

After it was mutually agreed upon that their relationship with their existing billing service was not working, RAI commenced a search for a new medical billing company. With a very large pool of local, regional, and national companies to consider, Benson started making phone calls with the goal of narrowing his list of around 50 companies down to a manageable number with whom they could meet. The selection process was governed by several important criteria such as the stability of the company and the ability to keep up with the rapidly changing world of billing. “I was looking for companies that are actively engaged in the industry, so that they are able to keep up with changing trends,” said Benson. With that in mind came the question of whether a bigger regional or national company was better positioned to meet RAI’s goals than a smaller local company.

At the time, HealthPro was still considered a smaller, local medical billing company. However, after meeting with the larger national and regional companies and learning about their similar, more disengaged business models, the team at RAI was left with the impression that bigger may not indeed be better. The owners of HealthPro, Don Rodden and John Stiles, impressed RAI with their active involvement in every facet of the business. “I just sensed with the owners that there was real stability there and that model started to appeal to me more and more,” said Benson. RAI’s business and their relationship with HealthPro have grown steadily ever since.

In fact, RAI has grown from five to 13 radiologists in the last 10 years and currently services five hospitals in the northern panhandle of West Virginia and across the river in eastern Ohio. “They have been a huge help. The best practice management advice I have ever gotten has been from HealthPro. They have a very keen insight into what radiology practices deal with on an ongoing basis and are very good at identifying and generating the information I need to manage the practice.”

Benson insists that radiologists need to be educated consumers when it comes to medical billing services. RAI often audits HealthPro, which has given them a lot of insight into how they operate. “They do a wonderful job at collecting, the accounts receivable follow-up, and really working the back end and the difficult claims. If they didn’t, I would know about it.”

According to Benson, it’s been a very healthy partnership. “As they have grown, we have gotten nothing but benefits from that growth. HealthPro is in a really sweet spot. They are big enough to keep up with trends in the health care industry and know what’s going on, but they are small enough that they still care and value every one of their clients.”