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Starting your own coding business

Here are the comments in this forum:

• It’s scary, but rewarding.
• Don’t expect instant success. You’ll have to work at it.
• Find a name and register it.
• Spend money on a lawyer to handle the paperwork.
• Invest in a coding management system like Medisoft.
• Advertise directly, and don’t be afraid to sell your service.
• Good luck!

stone6401

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Has anyone here started their own coding business? I have been coding for 5 years now, and I would like to test the waters with one, at the most two, local physicians on the side of my full time job. What do I need to get started? Do I need to buy billing software? And how do I go about soliciting physicians?

I would love to hear from anyone who has started their own business. Thanks!
 

AMADDOX

Contributor
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Lexington, TX
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I started my own medical management business back in 2009. Currently I have several surgical assists that I perform the entire billing process for. If your planning on handling the entire process I would suggest getting your own management software, I use Medisoft because it is user friendly and affordable and I use MegaEasy EDI interface along with it to conduct my eletronic billing through Availity. I can say it is difficult to get clients at first, I tried sending letters to all the local offices, but never received call backs on them. I would suggest advertising postcards, as most of the clients I have gotten have responded to those instead of actual advertising letters. At this point, 2 years later, I'm still advertising with the hope that one day I'll have enough clients that "word of mouth" will spread, which is always your best bet on advertising. Good luck on starting your business, I have to say it's been tough and stressful, but worth every minute once it starts producing, it just takes time, effort and a bit of luck!!

Best Wishes!!
Ashlie
 

stone6401

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Thanks for the detailed response! I keep thinking I should have my home office set up with the software in place before I start marketing, but isn't that a HUGE expense before I know if I'll even have a client? Also, since I plan on starting out after hours and weekends, I can't take patient billing inquiries off the practice's hands which would be a huge incentive for them to contract me.

Is there a realistic way to get started with just limited services such as coding, billing, patient invoicing, and maybe payment posting? I am waaaay too conservative to make the jump out of my 9-5 until I KNOW I'll be ok :)

Thanks again for the input!
 

AMADDOX

Contributor
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Lexington, TX
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I got lucky and had a friend who let me use her software system for awhile. It is expensive to buy software, but it is easier to have your own from day one. I think I paid about $1300 to get all of mine ready to function.

You could advertise just for the services your able to offer right now. Some practices may be in the market for a contract person to handle the duties you mention before. I know it's tough trying to start a business and juggle your current job. I was lucky and didn't have to do that, but I know lots of people who have. It takes time and money, but in the end, being your own boss and working the hours you decide adn from your own home are well worth it.

Good Luck,
Ashlie Sherrill, CPC
 

keke74

Guru
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138
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Birmingham, AL
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I am also in the process of starting my own Coding business . I have looked into different Coding & billing software, however for right now, I have been doing some contract work & I plan to continue doing that for now & work myself up to providing other services in the future. Meanwhile I plan to gain more education & a few more Credentials. I agree it does take time & money. My ultimate goal is to be my own boss.
 

weigelm

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Congrats on the decision to start your own business. It is so rewarding and so scary. I am still new to this, I started in Fall of 2010 and have 4 providers that I do full reimbursement management on, that includes billing and coding and appeals and patient billing. It will take a while to get your first client, but don't let it get you down. Contact your state and find out what kind of license you need (if any), figure out a business name and get it registered, find out if you need a permit for your business to be out of your home. Get everything legally set up first. Then figure out what services you want to offer. Call to other billing places in the area and find out what they chrage, also contact other ones over the internet. You may have to "disguise" yourself as a physician to get information out of them. For marketing, become a member of the chamber of commerce for your area, join the small business group, try to join any networking groups that you can. I found that advertising my mail did nothing for me. I like coding physical therapy and chiropractic: so I go to the State Association shows as a vendor. Get a website. I like to go to the offices, most of the time you won't get to see the provider, so leave information and treats. Its very important that you leave two treats-one for the receptionist and one for the provider. Make sure you tell the receptionist, "this one is for you, for helping me out and making sure Dr. Smith gets this information." As you get clients they will talk and then physicians will start contacting you for your services. Hope this helps you out.
 

keke74

Guru
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138
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Birmingham, AL
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I agree with Weigelm, figuring out a business name and getting it registered is a good idea. I took that step almost a month ago, I'm just waiting for my Name Reservation approval. Before I did that, Just as Weigelm stated I checked on the necessary business licenses or permits needed to work from home. I've been contemplating doing this for several years now, and I have finally decided to make that move. Vistaprint has some great advertising/marketing tools on their website also. You can also get helpful information by purchasing Self-employment books, for example, Contract agreements, small business tax deductions, landing your first provider, etc. I wish you much success in starting your own business!!!
 
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starting my own billing and coding

Thank you, all for the info on starting your own business. I have had no luck, with people sharing what they know on how to get started.
 
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Thank you, all for the info on starting your own business. I have had no luck, with people sharing what they know on how to get started.
I have thought about a consulting business in the past. I know a few consultants and they pay very high for health insurance. Is anyone concerned about that issue and do you know of anything that can be done about it? That is scary to me.
 
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Requirements in coding Company

I wanted to start a coding business in India. I just want to know what are the requirement to start a medical coding business?. And how to get client from abroad?.
 

KimberlySherman

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San Diego, California
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UPDATE JUNE 2019: In 2018 I closed my business and accepted a permanent remote coding position so that I would have income stability, benefits, etc. I have continued mentoring, however, which I think of as a fun leisure activity! LOL. Good luck to everyone seeking to launch a company of their own. It has drawbacks but can also have great rewards!

Best,
Kimberly

A pitch for coding-only business

I started a coding and billing company 1.5 years ago. All I had was two small coding clients. After a few months, I decided to eliminate the billing part and do coding only. The reasons for this were (1) as a billing company, I was competing with many other billing companies, large and small; (2) billing can be really stressful, with a lot of time wasted on the phone with insurance, dealing with denials, etc. I realized I didn't want the stress and wanted to focus instead on what I love (coding) (3) choosing a niche to work in puts you in front of more potential clients who are looking for the exact services you are offering. When I narrowed it down to coding (with ancillary services such as documentation improvement, HIPAA advising, and writing appeals), I got a surge of interest, several calls from providers, and landed a major client. I am earning $30-40/hour of coding work, before business expenses. I charge per encounter coded, a negotiable rate that starts at $5 and can go as high $7. If need be, for very complex coding, I would not hesitate to ask for more.

I market online only so far (though I plan to try other methods, such as conferences). I use LinkedIn, Facebook, yp.com, yext, and my own website to get in front of potential clients. My site is on page two of a google search, and at the top of the list for local searches. I just joined BBB and will be displaying their logo on everything, so we'll see if that gets me more calls. I have cold-called several practices in my area, and had pretty negative responses from that. Office Managers, etc., just don't want coders calling them in the middle of their busy day. I do think online marketing is a good way to go. I don't think I have found the best way to get in front of decision-makers. I do think that search rankings might be the best way to get noticed. If you're the only independent coding business in your area, and you're set up with all the search engines, then when a medical practice or even a billing company seeks a coding company, they will see you.

The word-of-mouth thing hasn't started working for me. My clients are very happy, but I haven't been able to get them to leave me reviews online (they say they'll do it but then don't get around to it). My plan is to grow and continue adding clients, to hire other independent coders to contract with me, and to have interns because I enjoy mentoring other coders.

Good luck, everyone!
 
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anu95

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Hi Kimberly: Your response is really informative. I am also planning to sail in the same boat. I am planning to do a start a small business in medical billing field. My background has been in healthcare IT . I do have a person who is a certified coder. I have the following questions.
1) Is it better to start with just coding and then add billing? What are the consequences in doing both? - after reading your response I am leaning towards starting with only coding.
2) Which software will be better for billing
3) Do I need to get certification of the software that I am using? like HIPAA certification
4) How useful is it to take membership in BBB
5) How do you can register with a clearing house to send claims?
 

briannah

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Medical Billing

I have a small medical billing company that I took over from another company. As the other person said, billing can be stressful. There's a lot of follow up work and managing employees, if you're able to stay on top of that, it's not that bad. Majority of my clients provide their own software, if I provide it for them, the fees are added to their monthly invoice. It's a nice set up that way. However, like the other person on here, my favorite area's are not in billing, so I'm looking to sell my business.

Best of luck to you!
 

KimberlySherman

Networker
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San Diego, California
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Follow-up to Starting Your Own Coding Business

I've gotten several requests for more information since posting the original info about operating a coding-only business, so this is an update with more details. Some things have changed too, such as my approach to marketing.

I recently lost my most important client, so I've taken part-time remote employment to fill the gap while I look for more business. I think that finding business for a coding-only operation can be a challenge, which is helped a lot if you're a "get out there and talk to people" type person. Medical practices seem to hire for services based mostly on word-of-mouth recommendations. Marketing online is probably not going to be very successful, yet I think having an online presence is just about required. It is quite useful because you can refer potential clients to your website, etc. So I would recommend focusing on local networking, visiting practices in person, having kick-ass local online listings. Taking clients from outside your local area is not a problem, but I think word-of-mouth in your local area is the best way to build a thriving coding business. Focus on the benefits of your service to the client, which are many fewer denials, leading to faster reimbursement and reduced A/R. Compliance issues are also important. Some doctors and office managers are not interested in becoming more compliant, while for others compliance is an important issue.

I don't use any medical management software - I keep it really simple. The client scans their reports and uploads them in pdf format to my secure Sookasa folder within my Dropbox. This costs me $10/month, and all the client has to do is click a link to upload their files. When the coding is completed, I send them a link to download the files. If there are a large number of files, they can manage this by setting up their own Sookasa folder and sharing it with me. Files and PHI cannot be shared via unsecured email, because of HITECH and HIPAA regulations. If you're doing billing too, check out OfficeAlly for a free, cloud-based billing application. It's all-inclusive.

I type the codes directly onto the document using Acrobat Reader's annotation tools. Acrobat Reader is free. The client's biller then uses your codes to create the claim. If the client has an EMR, you can usually gain remote access to it to see all the reports, input codes, etc. It can often be done using Windows apps, or Logmein.com. If that doesn't work, you'll have to hire an IT person to make it work, and you can charge the client for this.

To code correctly and efficiently, you'll need to subscribe to an encoder service. My favorite is Supercoder. It's several hundred dollars per year.

Excellent E/M coding is required. Even surgeons have pre-op visits, follow-up, etc. To master E/M coding, I recommend the AAPC E/M Auditing webinars and workshops. I have seen powerpoints from past E/M Auditing presentations for free online. Here are a couple of online resources that are very helpful:



Billing your clients can be done by the chart or with a flat monthly fee. I think per chart is preferable. The fee can be negotiated with the client. I charge $5-8 per chart, mostly depending on how long I think the coding is going to take. I think you should shoot for $30-40/hour of actual coding work, to cover your business expenses. To keep track of the number of charts coded, etc., I keep a simple spreadsheet with a tab for each client. I include other services in the fee: provider education, documentation improvement, and HIPAA advising. You'll also want to negotiate your turnaround time. If all your clients want their coding in 48 hours, you could be in trouble. If you can have a variety of different times, it's easier to manage. If you have more work than you can handle, you can sub-contractor with other coders to help. You might have coder friends who you know are skilled and reliable who could do this. I send out invoices by email on the last day of the month, due in 10 days.

Make sure to create a contract between you and the client that lays out what you've agreed on and your terms for things like a 30-day notice for terminating services, etc. You also have to get a signed Business Associate Agreement between the client and you before you look at any of their PHI, per HIPAA requirements. Also get a business license/certificate for your city, and make sure to pay your local taxes.

There are few start-up expenses per se, but as you go along you will have to pay for new coding books every year, CEUs, professional membership dues, coding software subscriptions, website hosting, domain and work email, high-speed internet, top of the line PC and two monitors, a comfortable chair, business cards for networking, and toll-free number for national business (Grasshopper is cheap and allows you to have a toll-free number on your cell phone). Track all income and expenses for your schedule C at tax time. If you are making over a certain amount, you have to pay self-employment taxes.



Coding-only does not have any of the headaches and stress of a billing service, but it is not as profitable. If you can develop the business to the point where you have a few clients, while continuing your full-time job, the transition can be easier. Splitting your time 50/50 between your clients and a remote coding job can be a next step toward becoming fully independent.
 

KimberlySherman

Networker
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29
Location
San Diego, California
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Billing business

Hi Kimberly: Your response is really informative. I am also planning to sail in the same boat. I am planning to do a start a small business in medical billing field. My background has been in healthcare IT . I do have a person who is a certified coder. I have the following questions.
1) Is it better to start with just coding and then add billing? What are the consequences in doing both? - after reading your response I am leaning towards starting with only coding.
2) Which software will be better for billing
3) Do I need to get certification of the software that I am using? like HIPAA certification
4) How useful is it to take membership in BBB
5) How do you can register with a clearing house to send claims?
I don't do any billing now, but I have done this in the past, and I am completing the CPB course right now.

1) Coding and billing go hand in hand, so if you have a lot of energy, jumping in and doing both would probably be best. You might try to start billing with a small client to make it a little easier, but according to billing business owners, setting up to bill for a new client can be quite a chore, taking around a month of work to get everything running smoothly. A lot of billing companies charge a set-up fee for this.
2) I can vouch for OfficeAlly as a free to low-cost, cloud solution for billing. Great for small practices that don't have an EHR set up already. If they have an EHR that's set up to submit claims to a clearinghouse, you can access their system remotely and do all your work that way.
3) I think you just make sure the software is HIPAA compliant, but I'm not really getting what you're asking.
4) I think BBB membership is great. In addition to the ratings and reviews, they should have networking events. I was able to get some clients to write reviews for me on BBB, and putting their logo on your marketing materials is great. I've been involved for about 3 months, but no increased business yet. You have to be in business for a certain period of time before you can join.
5) I'm not sure about how to get set up with a clearinghouse on your own, sorry. OfficeAlly has that taken care of for you, and I think other services do as well.
 

karie

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Kimberly Sherman

Kimberly! I'm preparing to start my own Medical Coding Company! I'd love to pick your brain sometime if you don't mind!! Karie
 

mcsluyter

Guru
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244
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How to get started

Has anyone here started their own coding business? I have been coding for 5 years now, and I would like to test the waters with one, at the most two, local physicians on the side of my full time job. What do I need to get started? Do I need to buy billing software? And how do I go about soliciting physicians?

I would love to hear from anyone who has started their own business. Thanks!

CodersDirect.com has a coding directory which includes AAPC instructors and independent coding contractors. Each participant receives a mini web page within the CodersDirect site and benefits by our 40,000 weekly views and inclusion in our overall marketing process.

Directory link: http://codersdirect.com/coding-resource-directory/

For more information please contact me at Msluyter@CodersDirect.com.

Thank you,

Mark
 

sclark619

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Insurance/bonding

Hello,
When working as a contractor, do you need to be bonded, or purchase insurance,to protect yourself/business from being sued?
Thanks,
Susan
 

demetriary

Networker
Messages
51
Location
Tucson
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Awesome insight

I've been on AAPC searching for guidance on starting a coding service since I don't care for billing. This has been the most in depth information provided as most people don't want to share their knowledge and I figure there's enough work out there if we have the resources. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing as I live in a small town in AZ and there are a lot of medical offices and I didn't know where to start. I've been in business as an Instructor for over 9 years and coding for 15. I have a business license, business account I'm a veteran and woman owned small business as well as an Instructor with AAPC. I also work 2 part time and a full time coding contract jobs and a single mom to top it off. I want to branch out on my own to offer more than education but to code for providers and to no longer have the 9-5 option all the time and dealing with lay offs. Again thank you!
 
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Coding buisiness in India

Hi I am planning to start a coding business in India. Could you please give the good suggestions.
 
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