HME Business Handbook: MSOs

How to Use MSOs for Billing and Reimbursement Education

Today's member service organizations offer a variety of ways to help their members sharpen their billing and reimbursement games.

The industry’s member service organizations (MSOs) offer a wide array of services to benefit their HME provider members. In addition to getting significant price breaks on HME through their function as buying groups, MSOs offer services such as turnkey marketing assistance, web site and e-commerce tools, provider networks for traveling patients, teleconferences, seminars and conferences, continuing education, and even financial and insurance services.

However, one key benefit that MSOs offer beyond the advantages of participating in a buying group or having access to educational opportunities is the ability to network with other HME providers and share best practices. And a primary education need that providers have is with billing and reimbursement. From understanding how to submit clean claims to Medicare, to understanding audit to programs, to dealing with major policy changes, providers need help, and an MSO can give it.

And the education doesn’t stop at Medicare reimbursement. Private payer insurance, Medicaid programs, and other funding sources such as the Veterans Administration all have their respective billing and reimbursement learning curves, and here again an MSO’s payer relations experts and education resources can help providers bill them correctly.

So, how can providers make sure that they are getting the most from their MSO membership when it comes to billing and reimbursement education?

TAP INTO THEIR EXPERTS

MSOs invest considerably in terms of staff expertise. They are recruiting and retaining some of the industry’s top experts and thought leaders so that they have can put some top-grade billing and reimbursement knowledge at their members’ fingertips.

Moreover, with MSOs that have been in the business for years, their experts also have been serving HME providers for a considerably long time. Moreover, there’s a good chance they’ve been involved in the industry or an aligned field before they came to the MSO, so they have years and years and years of experience.

MSO EVENTS

MSOs also host conferences and events that can provide an excellent opportunity to take in-person courses on billing and reimbursement. The billing and reimbursement education sessions at these events can cover very detailed, practical courses tailored to different provider jobs, such as billing-focal or care-focal courses, but can also cover more strategic courses, as well. Topics can address new market opportunities, unseen legal and regulatory pitfalls, trends that can impact the HME market, and new technologies, to name a few. These events usually feature a wide variety of staff and other expert speakers with fresh ideas and unique conference themes.

One MSO, the VGM Group, just announced that for the first time in its 18-year history, the MSO’s Heartland Conference is open to providers that are not members of VGM. The Heartland Conference runs June 10-12 in Waterloo, Iowa, and in addition to various billing and reimbursement events, it kicks off with a four-hour, pre-conference session called “Interpreting & Preparing for Competitive Bidding Round 2021,” which is clearly all about billing and reimbursement as it pertains to Round 2021.

Also, MSOs will often host traveling “road shows” where their experts will speak on various topics, including billing and reimbursement. The MSOs stage these events in regions with high concentrations of providers, and are hosted at locations that are within driving distance so that providers don’t have to accrue heavy travel costs. Best of all, these events are sometimes open to non-members at a fee, which gives providers that might be considering a membership a chance to sample their educational This way members and non-members can come attend, connect with those experts, learn from them, and get answers to specific questions.

LOCAL AND BIG INDUSTRY EVENTS

If you’re not a member of an MSO, there are opportunities to get a taste of the kind of expertise that is available to paid members. The experts that provide billing and reimbursement expertise at providers are often traveling to speak at state association events. Also, those MSO experts often speak at the industry’s big national events, Medtrade and Medtrade Spring. Here again both MSO members and non-members can take advantage of some really solid learning opportunities.

WEBINARS

A great way to rapidly train both staff and management on billing and reimbursement is through MSO webinars. Online presentations that let attendees interact with the presenters, webinars offer a highly flexible education option that doesn’t require any travel; they only need a computer and some free time to watch live or on-demand. These are presented by MSO experts and are heavily promoted to ensure members don’t miss out.

NETWORKING

Another advantage of MSO membership when it comes billing and reimbursement education is the opportunity to gain peer-to-peer insights from other providers that are MSO members. Usually, at the larger conferences hosted by the MSOs, there’s time to relax at special networking gatherings such as dinners and informal social events. These offer solid chances to chat with providers, vendor staff and other industry stakeholders in a more social setting, and possibly gain some new insights into billing and reimbursement.

STAY ON TOP OF TRENDS

Billing and reimbursement, particularly when it comes to Medicare’s DMEPOS benefit, is a constantly changing environment. The big trend right now in that regard is Round 2021 of competitive bidding. Round 2021 incorporates a number of key changes, such as item pricing, expanded product categories, and bid surety bonds.

Those are big changes, and the deadlines are tight: Registration starts on June 10; the bid window opens July 16; and bidding closes Sept. 18. So providers need expert advice now. And MSOs are responding. As mentioned, VGM has opened its Heartland conference to nonmembers, which kicks off with the special Round 2021 Also, VGM recently partnered with other groups to launch dmecbpeducation.com, which offers Round 2021 information and calculators that help users calculate bid amounts based on lead item pricing.

POINTS TO REMEMBER:

  • Given the constant change in the industry, providers need education on a wide variety of issues, and a primary topic is billing and reimbursement.
  • The industry’s member service organizations (MSOs) have retained a variety of experts and thought leaders when it comes to this topic.
  • MSOs host a variety of large and smaller events, including traveling road shows, to educate their members and sometimes non-members.
  • The experts speaking at those events will often go on the road to speak at special “road shows,” state association events, and also large events, such as Medtrade and Medtrade Spring.
  • Another good educational opportunity are MSO webinars that let members learn remotely.

LEARN MORE:

To learn more about the benefits available from member service organizations in the industry, visit The MED Group at medgroup.com, The VGM Group at vgmgroup.com, and Essentially Women (now a division of VGM) at essentiallywomen.com.

This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of HME Business.

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