Interests in medicine and number crunching lead one Charles County entrepreneur to combine her two passions, along with a healthy dose of tenacity and hard work, to create a successful medical billing business. Joyce Kingsbury, owner of Patient Account Services Inc. (PAS) in White Plains, has grown what started out as a home business in 1995 to an incorporated business with 15 employees and customers covering the DC Metro Area.
Here’s her story.
“My undergraduate was in biology, and I wanted to go into the medical field,” said Kingsbury, “I even studied for the MCAT exam but decided I didn’t like the clinical side. So, I got a master’s in business, and the two kind of came together in medical billing.” Tired of working for other people, she wanted to work hard for herself. So, without experience in medical billing, she quit her full-time job, took out some cash advances on a credit card, and started her own business.
Kingsbury found her first clients by knocking on doors, but now relies on a happy client base and word of mouth. She credits her husband and business partner, Jeff Johnson, for getting them to the next level by establishing “real-time” networking with their clients in 2000 – long before any other medical billing companies. “We’re linked to our clients,” said Kingsbury. “I can look up a claim, and they can look up same claim real-time while using the same software and appointment schedule.” Instead of someone taking the claims home and entering them, and nobody knowing for sure if they were paid, the doctor can check claims at any time.
The business’s motto is “Control your practice. Change your life.” PAS helps private medical practices with billing, practice management, electronic medical records, and IT solutions—taking the burden off physicians so they can concentrate on patient care, and have more time for a personal life. “Doctors often aren’t business people—they’re clinical,” says Kingsbury. That’s where PAS can help. She also likes to help private practices stay afloat in this day of lowered medical reimbursements.
“People are complaining about higher premiums, but doctors are getting paid less as well,” she says. “My goal is to help doctors stay in business, stay profitable, and keep their doors open.” With the Affordable Care Act, physicians were forced to be more electronic, and PAS brought that software to the table and trained their physicians on how to use it. Government incentives for achieving electronic records and other structured goals were available, and most of their clients received them.
PAS moved to White Plains Corporate Center in 2014, and Kingsbury considers it a great, central location in the county. The County’s location within the DC Metro Area allows for easy access to clients in Northern Virginia and even the Mid-Atlantic region, and the cost of doing business is lower. She hires locally but also has staff from the tri-county area and King George County in Virginia.
PAS staff have the flexibility and quality family time that comes with working locally. “I think that’s something we offer for our employees,” said Kingsbury. A lot of people make the commute to DC every day, and it’s cutting into their personal time.” She offers flexible work hours for things like getting kids off or on the bus, which is something staff wouldn’t have working in Washington DC.
An important part of owning your own business is keeping your staff happy, and Kingsbury does that with quarterly team building events and community outreaches. She also teaches yoga to her staff. “You have to do things that keep your staff excited about coming here because doing medical billing all day can be boring,” she said. “We have good, hardworking people here who enjoy each other and work well together.”
For others thinking about starting a business in Charles County, she offers this advice:
- Make sure it’s a good business idea and a good idea for the county.
- Make sure you’re passionate about it. You’re going to work 24/7. Don’t give up. I worked 24/7 in the beginning because I had to make it work. I think some people quit too soon.
- Make sure you have enough operating cash to support your business until it takes off. Even doctors aren’t going to open the door the first day and have 30 patients in line. You have to have some cash in your back pocket.