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BPO Make vs. Buy: Evaluating BPO Services for Medical Practices


WRS Health recently released a white paper titled, “BPO Make vs. Buy Part 2: How to Select a BPO Service Partner,” which examines the criteria crucial for medical practices to utilize when selecting a business process outsourcing service partner. Today, we explore methods for finding a perfect BPO partner.


Start with a trusted vendor

Ask for references and testimonials from other service clients. Read reviews. Have they achieved successful results? Many of the physicians and other providers involved in selecting BPO partners are not bashful when it comes to talking about failed partnerships and bestowing praise on trustworthy partners. Read blogs and white papers from unbiased sources. Finally, make sure the company is really here to stay. Don’t feel uncomfortable asking the vendor to provide evidence of their financial and strategic viability.

Ask for a defined set of services to be listed in the contract 

Insist on a breakdown of exact services to be performed so that you and the partner are in agreement as to what services to expect. 

Performance Objectives and Consultations 

What are you going to do for me? How will results be measured? How are you going to make things better? Look for a service that is transparent and insist on results. 

When Gregory Youngblood, office manager of Family First Medical Clinic in Los Angeles, asked this question, the outsourced firm’s answer clinched the deal. “A really big thing for me was whether they were going to be able to take our payments and post them directly into the patient’s account without us having to actually go in and do some manual intervention. The internal billing process wasn’t as productive as we needed it to be, so we needed to go and develop a better solution. We started utilizing an external company’s Billing Service in April 2012 and to date we have been very happy with the results. The money is coming in the door. A lot of the old claims that were still outstanding are the things that our external billing company has been able to bring to fruition. I’ve been quite pleased.”

Dr. William Blythe, an otolaryngologist in Alabama, said, “We’re very fiscally conservative and efficient. We have a group that manages our practice. They oversee our financials and run a monthly report and tell us how we are doing. When we were looking at making this final change we really didn’t have anywhere to go but down as far as money because we were so very efficient. Our accounts receivable was 28 days. We were collecting 98% of expected collections after contractual write offs. When we started talking to each individual EHR company, I said, ‘The bar has been set high. We are going to change, but if our numbers go down and we become less efficient financially, we’re going right back.’ I was very honest about revenue cycle management. I talked to everybody about every aspect of claims entry and clearinghouse.” 

Learning and Teaching 

An outstanding BPO partner should offer training tools, such as one-on-one training with clinical and billing experts, access to live webinars and a guided training library. Denton Combs said, “The training the company offered was good. It was also very personable. Our training was scheduled for an hour and we were done in 20 minutes. We did it all over the phone. The company walked us through the whole process of showing us how to do things. The first time we talked we had already put 200 patients into the computer without any training. When we call or email, we get a response back right away.” 

Chain of communication 

Is there a live person when you have a problem? Can you reach them immediately? Impeccable customer service is critical. 

Dr. Blythe is also reaping the rewards of a BPO firm that believes in the customer comes first. “When you e-mail or make a phone call and say, ‘I wanted it yesterday’ they come through with flying colors,” he said.

What kind of management and oversight will there be on my account? 

Cristina Garcia, practice manager of Florida-based Peter V. Choy M.D. and Ricardo O. Calonge M.D. LLC takes the other providers’ thoughts one step further. Her BPO company went the extra mile in assigning a specific representative to work with her. “The company we use has assigned a representative to our account and she called me and we had an interview. She asked me if we were having any problems and in the future if we want to set up one-on-one training, we could do that through the computer,” said Garcia. 

Veerappan Sundar, M.D. of North Carolina-based Sundar Internal Medicine Associates is enthusiastic that he knows the names of the people at his BPO firm. “The team is so friendly. In fact, I know all of their names. Even though I used a previous system for three or four years I never knew any of the people I was talking to,” said Dr. Sundar. 

What is the company’s culture and values? 

Do they mesh with your views? For example, nurse practitioners often express that they don’t get the respect they deserve as vital health care providers. This can cause friction between a nurse practitioner and an external company, unless the company is sensitive and respectful of their stature. For Toni Pratt-Reid, it was crucial that the company’s culture and values were sensitive to those of a Nurse Practitioner. “The company we outsourced to never referred to us as physicians through this whole process,” says Pratt-Reid. She added, “They looked at who we were as providers and based their conversation on us and never made us feel like we were second rate. That is something that each one of my providers and staff were impressed with. So many of the competitors’ say, ‘The physician will be able to do this and the nurse will do that.’ The ability of the company to recognize who we are and to respect our profession went a long way with us.”

With the healthcare landscape in constant flux, outsourcing services makes more business sense for small and medium practices than ever before. The selection of a BPO Service company can be intimidating. But, like finding the right marriage partner, when the right BPO firm comes along, you know it. And, by knowing how to evaluate and select BPO Services, you increase the likelihood for a long and happy marriage.