Brenda Loper grew up in a medical family. After earning a degree in business from the University of Georgia, she went to work managing medical practices for family members. Doing so, she saw so many inefficiencies and problem areas that she decided that there had to be a better way.

Seven years ago Loper opened a business, the Billing Department, that takes all of the management tasks away from physicians. She says that her company, which just moved from Commons Way to Tamarack Circle on Route 206 in Montgomery, is the only virtual medical practice in the country.

Reached at her office, she answers the phone saying “doctor’s office.” Her 22 employees, all of them certified medical assistants, and most of them college graduates, do the same. Minus the stethoscopes and white coats, they really are the medical practices that they represent.

“We take away everything but the medical staff,” says Loper. “All of the bureaucracy is taken away.”

Each physician who signs on with the Billing Department is assigned a dedicated team. It may number two people, or, for the company’s largest client, eight people. This is a custom service. Each doctor’s team learns his or her preferences. “Some doctors don’t want to see patients over the age of 18,” Loper gives as an example. “Some doctors only want to see one patient an hour. Others want patients worked in right away.”

Loper’s staff do triage, making sure that seriously ill patients are seen quickly and routing routine prescription refills directly to nurses working on site at the doctors’ offices. She says that feedback from patients indicates that they like the service, the fact that they have the full attention of the staffer answering the phone, and do not have to compete for her attention with pharma salespeople and all of the other interruptions that go along with a busy medical practice.

Fielding calls and scheduling appointments is just part of what the Billing Department does. “We do payroll, order medical supplies, make confirmation calls, handle billing, and let patients know the status of their bills,” says Loper.

Loper also does marketing, overhead analysis, fee schedule development, and medical coding for her clients. She even sends over a replacement if the practice’s receptionist fails to show up for work.

The Billing Department’s staffers go out to their assigned physician’s office about once a week, and Loper visits each practice about once a month. Her clients are in New York and New Jersey, and also in Florida, where she has another office. She says that her business, which started out with three employees, is adding new clients at a rate of 5 to 10 a year, and she expects that it will continue to do so.

She does offer her services individually, but says that 90 percent of her business consists of full-service virtual medical offices. A big plus for clients, she says, is that replacing all clerical tasks cuts down tremendously on the time needed to hire, train, and sometimes, to fire office staff.

She says that the average medical office staffer sticks around for only 18 months, creating a constant need for recruiting and training.

Loper says that she is proud that her company does no outsourcing. All work is done by employees who work from her offices. She says that hiring has never been a problem because she offers “a lucrative package,” which includes paid medical insurance, a 401 (k) plan, a competitive salary structure, and a workplace that is “supportive of family.”

“It’s a happy place to work,” says Loper. The foundation of her business is freeing medical practices from a mountain of clerical chores so that they, too, can be happy places to work.

The Billing Department LLC, 69 Tamarack Circle, Suite 1500, Montgomery; 609-430-2922; fax, 609-430-2923. Brenda Loper, president. Home page: www.mybillingdept.com.

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