This is part two from our interview with Chris Davison, Ambulance Billing Manager of the Tucson Fire Department in Tucson, Arizona and one of our Hidden Heroes in EMS Billing. Please click here if you missed part one.
Payor Logic: Can you share some specific examples of how the changes you implemented have improved the outcomes of your team and department?
Chris Davison: I tell my team that we can’t control our future claim volume because we can’t predict when people will call 911. We can influence the insurance companies, though. By personally following up with the payors and patients, we do not have to send as many accounts to a collection agency. In addition, by better understanding the state laws, we save money and increase revenue. For example, one of our private payors changed its claims processor and began paying at a lower rate that contradicted the state law. Because my team was educated on this, we identified this change, spoke to the private payor and were able to get the $25,000 they owed us. This would not have happened if the team had not been collaborative, educated and empowered to be accountable.
When it comes to patient follow-up, the majority are thankful they are being reminded about their bill and they pay it immediately. Taking five minutes out of the day to call a patient in the morning is totally worth it—even for an amount like $500.
In the past, the team would just accept what the payors and patients paid—or didn’t pay. We can’t simply assume they are correct. We need to know what is accurate and push back when need be. There is so much money to be received and uncovered when a billing team is educated and proactive.
PL: How did you optimize the technology you used in these initiatives?
Chris Davison: Working with so many payors, providers and patients, my team and I stay educated on all of the different portals they offer and we use. By understanding how our partners want claims submitted and how they share payments, we can streamline our processes.
“Efficiency is intelligent laziness,” is how I relate technology to our team. The more we understand the technology available to us, the better we can automate processes to improve tracking and claim follow-ups.
PL: What projects are you prioritizing for the future?
Chris Davison: The medical billers and coders in my department have to know so much about insurance policies, payors, patients and circumstances of transports. There’s a perception that they’re blindly putting information in databases. This is not the case at all. I am working to enhance their knowledge and skill sets as billing professionals and making sure the rest of the department and city acknowledge the skill level of the position. This project goes back to attitude, training and accountability within and outside the department.
PL: For people who find themselves in roles like yours, what recommendations can you offer based on your experience? Any advice?
Chris Davison: First of all, don’t assume you know everything. A good leader has to be open to new ideas, new process improvements and suggestions from peers, people above and below you, or experts in different industries. Often, people become territorial about their work and you can’t be successful that way. I keep this quote with me on my computer monitor at work and try to live by it:
“A winner knows how much he still has to learn even when he is considered an expert by others. A loser wants to be considered an expert by others before he has even learned enough to know how little he knows.” ― Sydney J. Harris
Also, chocolate works wonders! Bringing treats to your staff is always helpful during times of change and celebration.
PL: Why do you choose to work in the EMS field?
Chris Davison: EMS is such a great place to work. My husband is a retired police officer, so I already knew the public safety industry and community before joining City of Tucson. The family atmosphere you hear about in the field is evident in the office environment too. People wave at you in the parking lot, everyone is so friendly in the office and employees work hard to make the changes needed to improve the department. Every day I feel very supported and like a valued member of the team.
On behalf of everyone at Payor Logic and in honor of EMS Week, we thank Chris for her contributions and commitment. She is one of the hidden heroes who make us proud to be a part of this outstanding EMS industry.
To hear from another hidden hero in EMS billing, click here »