Tammy Mulligan, LVN – Owner and
President, On Track Medical Billing Services
With over 25 years of experience in medical billing, coding, and practice management, Tammy has extensive experience in operating and managing successful medical practices. Her areas of specialties include Internal Medicine, Family Practice, Physical Therapy, Psychology/Mental Health, Chiropractic, Speech Therapy, Sleep Studies, Podiatry, General Surgery and Pain Management/ Anesthesiology. In this interview, Tammy talks to me about the challenges facing the industry and her vision for its future.
Starting In The Medical Billing Domain
Tammy was introduced to the healthcare domain from a young age. When she was in high school, she started as a nurse’s aide and later completed her graduation in a medical assisting program. Tammy attended nursing school, after which she began working in doctors’ offices. It was here that one of the offices required her to do billing.
The doctor taught Tammy billing on a computerized program and after working for him a couple of years, she decided to start her home-based business in 1996. Presently, Tammy does medical billing for a variety of specialties with revenue cycle management forming a part of it. She also takes several coding classes to keep up with new developments in the industry.
‘Being a nurse and doing medical billing, I understand the anatomy and physiology of what’s happening. I can help practice with that part of it if they are not sure how to code something.’
Talking about the time she signed up for her first account, Tammy recalls that there was no internet and online communication at the time. She would advertise by writing letters to each practice introducing herself and her services.
She also went door to door with a packet of samples, brochures, and information about her services. One doctor trusted her to give her a start after which through referrals and other avenues, her business began to thrive.
Current Business Structure And Organization
At On Track Medical Billing Services, Tammy’s biggest clients presently are Behavioral health providers and Psychologists. She has 19 clients that include two mental health clinics (with multiple providers), a family practice, an Internist, a Physical Therapy practice, Speech and Language therapists and two separate surgery practices.
Owing to her decades of experience and organizational skills, Tammy I able to successfully handle all clients on her own. She only has one part-time employee for help with clerical work.
‘I know when each practice is going to send the billing to me to get it out, so I have days of the week that are assigned to each. When I’m not posting and sending claims, I’m doing the collections aspect, calling patients and checking with insurance companies.’
Along with providing medical billing services, Tammy also provides training and technical support for Medisoft.
Standout Moments In The Medical Billing Domain
For Tammy, succeeding in her private business for over 25 years as a biller while providing medical billing consulting and sales is a huge achievement. A majority of her clientele, 99%, has come in through referrals.
Tammy believes her ability to be able to give one-on-one attention to her client’s practice management, claims, and collections which help improve their incomes has been a huge contributor to her success. Additionally, by being outside the practice, the clients save money on workers comp insurance and taxes.
‘I am proud of being able to maintain a business in this busy environment and that practices have given me their business knowing I am a one-woman billing service. I pride myself on working hard to make their practice successful.’
Overcoming Challenges Over The Years
Unorganized doctors a significant challenge in the industry according to Tammy. She states that some of them are always behind in their billing and can’t meet deadlines. To get paid fast, it is important to get in billing fast without any delays. Coding shouldn’t be difficult for doctors and if they establish a routine, everything gets better and their bottom line improves.
To counter this concern, Tammy sets deadlines for the doctors she works with. She sends them an e-mail a week before the end of the month to let them know the cut-off dates for the month. This helps them stay on track in sending the bills timely which ultimately helps aid their revenue generation.
‘When I start with a new practice, I put a contract together which states in great detail what I expect from them and what they can expect from me. I do my part, so I try to stress that they do their part.’
Business Plans For Growing The Business
Tammy mentions taking on a new client recently – a big start-up clinic starting from the ground up. She is doing their contracting with carriers, helping them with new staff, and will eventually do their billing. She hopes to grow a little more and find new clients to replace the doctors that are retiring.
‘Insurance billing is changing, and I am trying to keep up with it. I love learning new things.’
Talking about marketing methods that have helped her grow her business so far, Tammy credits word of mouth as the leading reason. She also has a LinkedIn account and website where people can find her.
Top Philosophies And Core Values In Business
Tammy prides herself in getting things done quickly and efficiently and her error rate is practically zero. She also ensures that the software she uses is updated yearly which enables her to provide top-of-the-line services to her clients.
She also attends classes regularly by insurance carriers and stays up to date on California State laws regarding billing, national laws regarding billing to stay on top of the game.
Advice For Newcomers Entering The Medical Billing Industry
Having taught a lot of medical billing courses throughout the years at community colleges, one thing that Tammy stresses is to learn the basics of billing and work with a good accounting program to do it.
Also, it is important to constantly attend classes and webinars to know what’s current. So many billers have no experience, and the doctors hire them because they are trying to pay the minimum that they can for an employee but their billing is usually messed up.
Key Benefits Of On Track Medical Billing Services
The biggest benefit Tammy states is her experience in the field. Second is the quick turnaround time in sending the claim and being paid which is often less than two weeks.
‘One of the things that offices are looking for is somebody who can fix everything very quickly and I offer that.’
Vision For Future Of The Industry
Tammy states that things are always changing in this industry. Presently, especially in the US not knowing what is going to happen with Medicare and how that is going to change in the next couple of years is something to look out for.
Tammy hopes the changes are small that can be adapted to easily so that the industry can keep moving forward. With technology changing rapidly, there’s always something new that comes out bigger and better. Every year new features are added to the Medisoft software to make a billers job easier.
For billing companies and professionals looking to remain successful in this domain, Tammy advises not to try to grow too quickly, too fast. Also, for staffing, it is important to know what the people are doing and about their experience. It is easy to test people by asking a few questions.
Finally, only offer providers the services that can actually be given. Tammy says that she has seen a lot of billers come and go because they have high hopes about being able to do the job and then they fall apart.
‘It could be a lot of pressure if a practice is putting everything on a company to get that done but the company has 10 other people that they are trying to do the same thing for and they just can’t get it done.’
Leadership Lessons Learned Over The Course Of Life
The most important lesson is to be patient. When it comes to paying a bill, nobody is happy, everybody is angry. People need to understand that if someone is yelling, it’s not because they are personally angry at the person but at the fact that they have received a bill. Moreover, sometimes people’s anger stems from the fact that they have to pay more than they expected because they didn’t have the right insurance coverage.
‘I think patience, being calm and going with the flow, and being able to explain things to patients in detail helps resolve a lot of issues.’