Telanna Jeffers – Owner
Professional Reimbursement Inc
A leader in providing proactive A/R management services to health care organizations, Telanna is a well-recognized reimbursement partner for revenue cycle management services. Her firm helps clients increase their revenue, accelerate their collections, reduce their denials, improve their cash flow, and better serve their patients. Here, Telanna talks to me about the challenges and growth her business has seen over the years.
An Early Start In The RCM Domain
Telanna’s mother was an administrator of a National Home Health agency while she was attending college in Orlando. Telanna joined the same Home Health Agency as the on-call coordinator. After obtaining her degree in Healthcare Administration, she began working at a local DME company, having already been exposed to the field of healthcare.
‘I started as the receptionist at a family-owned DME Company in Orlando and this is where my passion for serving independent providers evolved.’
Her early experience in healthcare has provided Telanna with a full scope of the progression of a patient through the revenue cycle process. Her prior experience included working through intake, authorizations, the billing department, and another DME company that dealt primarily with oxygen. In 1999, Telanna joined Professional Reimbursement Inc as a Reimbursement Analyst.
Talking about staying motivated in this industry, Telanna is passionate about the investigative factor involved in RCM. She states that an adrenaline rush comes with figuring something out, solving an issue for a client, or helping a patient get something that they need.
‘I am passionate about doing everything possible to get a claim processed and paid correctly.’
Telanna recalls signing up a startup company in Maryland as her first account. At the time, the pharmacy struggled to get into new networks, organize paperwork, and be prepared to onboard its first patient. The reference for this account came from a fellow Revenue Cycle Management Company.
‘A great thing about being a part of a National Home Infusion Association is the ability to work with and trust others in this space enough to be able to refer them, clients.’
Current Business Structure And Organization
The firm, Professional Reimbursement, has been around since 1988 and Telanna joined them in 1999. When the original owner passed away in 2012, Telanna purchased the firm but was determined to maintain the legacy of the firm.
The firm has always been family-oriented, and the work/life balance is an important part of the company culture. This is a core reason, Telanna believes that they strive to support independent home infusion companies, specialty infusion companies, and infusion suites.
Currently, her firm is working on moving out of the full revenue cycle management space and concentrating on the back-end services. Telanna shares that several companies can optimally verify the benefits and get the authorizations but don’t perform well on the back end and follow-up.
This is largely because they don’t have the right people in the right seats willing to access tough questions and stay persistent. This is why Professional Reimbursement is heading toward supporting home infusion companies, specialty infusion companies, and ambulatory infusion suites in maximizing and partnering with their current staff to get better results and provide better service to their patients.
The team at present comprises of 7 people at the time with Telanna looking to grow it to 12-15 people. The firm has about 10 clients with Telanna stressing their vision to remain a close-knit community offering quality service to their clients rather than focusing on expansion.
Standout Moments As a Business Leader
For Telanna, her role in educating and evolving the industry is a huge standout achievement. She recalls that in 1999, insurance companies were not even aware of home infusion therapy.
Participating on the education committee with the National Home Infusion Association and educating people on home infusion and its importance has been a big part of her professional journey.
Regarding her company, Telanna has great pride in her firm’s relationship with its clients. Further, her firm also proactively provides solutions for their providers because this industry relies on getting the correct information on the front end.
‘I am open to sharing information with nonclients if I can help a biller/collector figure something out, I will. There doesn’t always have to be an exchange of money, and kindness goes a long way.’
Overcoming Business Challenges
Moving to a paperless environment meant creating new processes and switching to a more robust practice management system. Further, as providers are located nationwide, having effective methods to distribute information regarding payer policy changes or new legislation between our staff and providers was imperative.
While Covid-19 was a challenge, the company had already started the process to transition the staff to work-from-home, which made it easier. This decision was taken by Telanna to support her employees in their work/life balance and foster improvement in their quality of life.
‘We started remotely two days per week, but Covid-19 shifted that to the full work week. Adapting to paperless was more challenging because some therapies require much documentation and smaller payers do not accept claims electronically.’
Business Plans For The Future
Telanna’s focus is on creating robust processes that effectively and quickly identify problems with the AR. As the firm is moving away from the front-end RCM processes to the back-end, the focus is increasingly on AR management and cash reconciliation for organizations so that their records are accurate, allowing them to make better decisions. To promote this growth, she is open to partnering with larger providers to support their AR management efforts.
Talking about the marketing methods that have worked so far, Telanna finds LinkedIn and referrals to be the most beneficial. The firm also recently started an email campaign.
Top Philosophies And Core Values In Business
Telanna number one core value is to be curious. To be in RCM, one has to be curious and willing to ask tough questions. Instead of accepting being told a ‘no’, it is about investigating. Another core value is communication, not only with the staff but also with clients and patients.
Respect is also a core business value. As an organization, it is important for Telanna to make any individual she is in contact with feel heard and understood.
Advice For Newcomers Entering The RCM field
The biggest advice Telanna offers for a career in RCM is to be open to change. The RCM industry changes all the time. There’s always new legislation coming up and new policies being changed. People have to deal with a different insurance company every time and be willing to adapt to that.
Another is to always be curious and ask good questions. The better one’s questions, the better their answers and results are.
Two Key Learnings In The Field
- It does not have to be hard
Sometimes there may be difficult situations one faces but that does not mean things have to be hard. Here, it is a matter of perspective whether one is looking at the situation from the lens of a problem or that of a learning opportunity.
- There is always an opportunity
There is always an opportunity to improve one’s processes and systems. With continuous cuts in healthcare reimbursement, it is vital to have innovative avenues to work smarter.
Key Benefits Of Services at Professional Reimbursement
One of the key benefits is communication with clients. The firm is proactive in updating clients with all important details as well as answering any questions. Further, Telanna mentions that it is important for them to offer quality support to their clients.
The staff at Professional Reimbursement takes pride in obtaining the correct information during the verification process to proactively prevent any future denials. The team is conscious of the quality of work put out there and performs it in a way that is ethical, not only for the firm but also for the clients.
Vision For The Future Of The Industry
Firms will need to find innovative ways for the RCM industry to partner with insurance carriers to reduce the time providers are spending to receive payment on complex denials. Many payers have portals available, but providers need to be able to do more through improved AI and training. Home infusion therapy can be complex and information available in provider portals often is not adequate.
Leadership lessons learned over the years
Telanna believes it is important to allow people to grow and allow them to go. Sometimes organizations tend to hold onto people due to the value they offer but this does not always allow them to grow. If people want to move on, it is important to let them go and support them. Another learning as a leader is to ask for help when needed.
‘Make sure that you have the right people in your circle whether it is mentors or coaches or other industry people because you need support just like you’re supporting your team.’