Sometimes it’s hard to resist the lure of a slick sales pitch, and the podiatrist founder of The Colorado Clinics for Foot and Ankle, Erik Ouderkirk DPM, found he just couldn’t when he was approached by a national firm selling a combined service that would – he was promised– easily handle all of his practice’s billing and medical records needs.
The practice had used Clinic Service for years for its billing work, and had been happy with our service. Happiest of all was Dana Ouderkirk, Erik’s wife and the administrator for his practice. After hearing the pitch from the national firm, the office decided that the all-in-one solution offered by the national firm would be even better than the service they were receiving from us.
Dana said that after switching to the new vendor, things went south for the practice right away. What they had been told was “plug and play” was far from it. The couple began to understand that they were essentially buying a software package, not a billing service. They would still need to do their own billing, or in other words, what Clinic Service had done for them previously.
Learning how to manage the billing for their patients plus navigate the extremely new complex software was a nightmare. Meanwhile, patient bills weren’t getting issued, let alone paid.
The practice’s finances spiraled out of control as the chaos continued. Eventually the practice had to take out a loan to ensure employees were paid. Meanwhile, the Ouderkirks went for months without a payment to themselves.
In the background, while the practice struggled with the national firm, Dana called her account manager at Clinic Service for help. Our staffer helped Dana navigate the muck that was their billing with compassion and kindness, offering words of encouragement to a strained and stressed Dana while helping her sort out their patient billing. This was done even though the Ouderkirks were not technically our clients at this point and we were receiving no compensation.
At one point, our staffer told Dana that she wasn’t sure how much more she could help, knowing that she had to walk the line between helping the Ouderkirks and maintaining integrity with the company. In Dana’s words, “This made me love Clinic Service even more. The fact that Clinic Service creates such a culture of integrity in their organization that it trickles down to the employee level is awesome. I love that they are a company with strong values.”
After months of fighting to stay afloat and muddle through their new system with some help from us, Dana decided that they had had enough of other firms. They wanted to come back to Clinic Service.
The Ouderkirks have been desperate, as you might imagine, to return to Clinic Service as soon as possible, but even that has been difficult, as the national firm has them trapped in a contract that doesn’t let them use another billing firm until 2018. As Clinic Service continues to do some work to help them prepare for the transition at the beginning of next year, Dana is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
“We are almost free,” said Dana triumphantly when we spoke just before Halloween. “We are so excited to return to Clinic Service. This has been a really, really tough lesson for us.”
Dana wants to make sure other practices don’t make the same mistake hers did. If you’d like to talk to her about her experience with Clinic Service, she would be happy to chat. Contact us to learn more.