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(Looking to hire the best for another position in your clinic? We have articles addressing many different roles, including PTs, OTs, and SLPs. Click the respective link to find out more—or click here to see all the articles we’ve published on the topic.)
If you handle your physical therapy billing in-house, then you’re going to need to hire the best physical therapy biller—or several. After all, that person—or team—will be responsible for ensuring your clinic maintains a steady flow of revenue. And with the ever-changing billing rules and regulations, that’s not an easy feat. But, the best PT billers are up to the challenge. Here are four things to consider when you’re trying to bring on the best:
1. How’s your company culture?
Before you hire a new staff member—regardless of the role—you’ve got to be sure your company culture is strong. That’s because culture is essential to fostering engagement and focusing a team on a unified vision. A great company culture is, well, great for everyone—including your patients. It’s even great for your bottom-line. Plus, the only way to suss out whether a candidate will be a good cultural match is to first know what you’re trying to match that person to. In other words, you’ve got to know your culture—inside and out, backwards and forwards.
Not sure cultural fit is really that important? WebPT’s president, Heidi Jannenga, has this to say: “You can teach people new skills and concepts, but you can’t teach personality; you can’t teach values; and you certainly can’t teach passion.”
Is there room for improvement?
If your company culture isn’t up to snuff, take action to transform it—quick—because the best PT billers want to work at the best clinics, and a less-than-stellar company culture can be a big turnoff. While there are no inherently good or bad cultures—different cultures are right for different people and organizations—there are several characteristics that the world’s most successful companies share. These are the ones that Jannenga kept in mind when starting WebPT (you can see how they’ve evolved into WebPT’s culture commitments here):
- Hands-off Management
- Rejection of Perfection
2. Are your job descriptions generic?
There’s no need to wait until a PT biller comes in for a first interview to begin showcasing your culture—and screening for cultural fit. You can—and should—embed your clinic’s personality and heart right into your job descriptions. As WebPT’s Charlotte Bohnett explains in this post, generic job descriptions are the worst—well, maybe not the worst—but as HR consulting company Insperity says, “Your culture can set the tone of your messaging to prospective employees, and that should be your goal for your advertised job openings. This involves letting your company’s personality come through in your descriptions...With a clear and precise job description, you can eliminate any confusion about what's expected of the applicant right off the bat.”
Wondering how to craft a well-written job description that conveys your clinic’s culture? Take a look at these descriptions to see how WebPT infuses personality into theirs—without sacrificing clarity.
3. Are you a master interviewer?
When you’re ready to start interviewing, consider scheduling at least one one-on-one and one group session for every candidate (the group interview will help you see how well that candidate meshes with the team). It’s important to remember that interviews of any type can be nerve-wracking for all parties. Before your next one, take a deep breath, do a short presence exercise, and remember that this could be the beginning of a long—and beautiful—professional relationship. With that in mind, structure the interview like a conversation—not an interrogation. After all, the best interviews go both ways; if you’re sitting across from a great PT biller, then he or she is assessing you and your clinic for fit, too.
Do you ask telling questions?
When conducting her own interviews, Jannenga makes it a point to ask “direct, relevant, and experiential questions” that address both competency and cultural fit. Examples include:
- “How would you handle a situation in which [give a specific situation that someone in this role may face]? And what criteria would you use to determine whether you succeeded or failed?
- “Let’s role-play an example of how you would approach a performance review discussion.”
- Why did you decide to become a PT biller? What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of the job?
- Which insurances do you have experience billing?
- How did you handle the transition to ICD-10? What was your process for learning the new code set?
- What forms have you used—and which procedures have you coded—most often?
- Why are you interested in joining our company? What makes you an especially good fit for our team?
- How do you handle stress?
- What’s the best thing you’ve ever learned on the job?
- If I asked one of your colleagues to describe you in three adjectives, what would he or she say?
- What are you reading right now?
- What was the best thing a previous manager did that you wish everyone did?
- What is the last gift you gave someone?
- What can your hobbies tell me that your resume can’t?
- Tell me about a time when you provided service that went beyond what was expected of you.
- How do you stay up-to-date on billing rules and regulations?
- Tell me about a time when you received a claim denial. How did you resolve it?
- How do you feel about insurance companies?
- How would you handle a situation in which a patient was angry? What about a therapist?
- What has been your most challenging billing situation to date, and why? What did you learn from it?
- Describe your ideal work day.
- What are your strengths? In which areas do you hope to grow in the next year?
- What do clean claims mean to you?
- Tell me about a time you—or your clinic—implemented a suggestion of yours to make a situation better.
- What are your career goals? What are the three steps you’ve taken this year to help you achieve them?
- What motivates you?
- Have you ever received a request from a supervisor that you didn’t agree with? If so, how did you handle it?
- What was your favorite—and least favorite—aspect of your previous (or current) job?
- What experience do you have working with an EMR? Which EMRs are you familiar with?
- What three factors are crucial within a clinic and must be present for you to work most effectively?
- What certifications do you currently hold?
- How long does it typically take you to process one day’s worth of claims?
4. Do you know what a fair offer looks like?
Once you’ve found the best PT biller to join your ranks, it’s time to make an offer—and hopefully, it’s an offer that he or she can’t refuse. To entice top talent—and stay within your budget—the offer you make must be fair for both you and the candidate. As I wrote in this guide to fair compensation, that means you must:
- do your research to understand market value in your area (you can start by using this resource and this one), and
- consider benefits other than salary.
To the latter point, when Jannenga was a clinic director, she not only provided her employees with a standard benefits package—which included health, dental, vision, life, and disability insurance—but also paid for their APTA memberships and CEUs. “To me, a good benefit package satisfies the needs of your employees and puts your company at a competitive advantage to other similar companies in your market,” she says.
Are you leaving room for negotiation?
Once Jannenga determined the fair market value—and benefits package—for all the roles in her clinic, she was able to calculate a salary range for each. Then, based on what she knew about a particular candidate from his or her interview, she identified where within that position’s range a the candidate should land. And she always left room for negotiation. After all, the best PT billers will most likely make counteroffers. “I like to screen first for the basics,” Jannenga says. For a PT biller, that would include things like education, work history, and specialization. She then factors in the less tangible stuff: “How do they think? How do they go about solving problems? How well do they communicate? How well do they mesh with the current team? And how well does the team accept them?” While Jannenga considers it all when making her decision, she prioritizes cultural fit.
With the answers to these questions under your belt—plus your own sharp instincts—you’ll know exactly who to bring on board (and who to politely let go). If this isn’t your first time hiring a PT biller, you probably have your own tricks up your sleeve for hiring the best. Care to share? Tell us what’s worked—and what hasn’t—in the comment section below.