Building Successful New Programs, Learning from Experience, and Partnering with BillCare
NorthStar Regional provides substance use disorder treatment and mental health counseling in Minnesota. A long-time customer of BillCare, NorthStar Regional is a regional leader focusing on providing kind, compassionate and effective care. The BillCare team sat down with Rachel Vanderscoff who runs their billing department, among a myriad of other responsibilities, to learn more about what has contributed to NorthStar’s success and rapid growth over the last five years.
Rachel Vanderscoff is married to Jason Vanderscoff, one of the owners of NorthStar Regional, and is the engine that keeps the business running. She’s helped cement the processes that have enabled the agency to expand from eight employees to more than 150 and from one location to six. She’s passionate about helping others and that mission is clearly echoed by the owners and how the business is grown.
Read our interview with Rachel to learn more.
Q: How did you come to work at a behavioral health agency?
My husband, Jason, started out as a counselor. After a few years working as a Program Director for Five Stars Recovery Center, he started a nonprofit for sober housing. He had a client living under a bridge and coming to outpatient treatment with him. And so he purchased the first sober house to get housing for clients so they could stay sober and come to group sessions. Then we merged this over-housing company into Five Stars and then we created NorthStar.
Around that time, he asked me to come on board and I’ve never looked back!
Q: What do you love most about your job?
I love the reports. There’s something about digging into things to be able to fix the problem that I really enjoy. On the billing side, I’m driven to make sure every box is checked and everything that should be billed out is. On the administration side, process improvement is what I’m most passionate about. Having reports like those that BillCare and Procentive (BillCare’s sister EHR company) provides helps me do that. They let me review other staff’s work so I don’t have to be physically onsite to see what’s going on at our different locations. I can’t tell you how great that is and how much time I save because of this feature. Best of all, by being able to track everything, I can continually review and analyze what’s happening to make sure that we’re improving where we need to. I’m a big fan of efficiency and want everything to run as perfectly as possible.
We offer everything, which is the coolest thing ever. And it’s really neat. I just love working with the clients. The front desk is my favorite position because I get to see them grow and they start opening up and they’re like, “Oh, hi Rachel. Hey, how’s it going? Hey, I got six months, I got 90 days.” It’s the coolest thing ever. Our clients are truly what motivates me and our whole team.
Q: What are some of the largest obstacles you’ve had to overcome as an agency?
When I first started, I would be up until 3 AM faxing and finishing up paperwork. I’d get county workers asking me, “Why are you faxing on Sunday afternoon, Saturday night, Friday night?” The time commitment was rough but it was necessary. There just wasn’t another way to get things done that had to be done until we switched to BillCare.
When we switched to BillCare and started using the fax module, it literally changed my world! We wouldn’t be as far as we are without BillCare.
Q: What do you wish people knew about NorthStar and in general, owning an agency?
You throw darts at the wall and see what sticks. And that’s how we kind of do it. We understand that nothing will run perfectly but we have enough experience building new programs that we know what to expect. Since starting, we’ve added on residential services, which meant adding residential billing too. That was a new adventure. We’ve also added onsite labs, psychiatry, and mental health services that on my end, have required learning new billing processes.
But by having BillCare with us, we’ve worked through it and figured it out together and it’s been really cool. It’s been a great partnership.
Q: What advice do you have for other agencies?
Beyond the processes and billing, you have to fully believe in what you’re doing. My husband’s mission is to help as many people as possible and I share that vision. We provide the full continuum of care, so we can address all the issues someone has. We don’t want to say “stop drinking” when our patient has an underlying reason for drinking like anxiety or depression. We want to make sure we’re supporting them in all the ways they need. My driver is our clients. I love our clients. I do. I fall in love with them, for sure!
It’s weird to think about giving advice to other agencies because I still feel like we’re eight people. The strangest feeling is having to let go of being able to do everything yourself. But you have to get to that point if you want to grow. BillCare has helped us do that because we trust them and they’re always helping us be more successful. I feel like I’m always asking them, “am I doing this right?” and they never fail to help.
You guys do everything for us! We would not be here without BillCare. We’d probably just be Jason as a counselor and me at the front desk with an outdated software program.
Q: What prompted you to partner with BillCare?
It’s enabled us to grow. Honestly, the biggest factor in our growth has been BillCare and Procentive. The old billing system that was used was awful and I didn’t work with it much. But as soon as we switched over to Procentive we were able to do more, we were able to track more. It was just a better visual of what our company looked like. I’m obsessed with it.
Specifically, BillCare’s customer service is outstanding.
I couldn’t do this without their service department manager, Justin Michaud. He’s such a big part of BillCare and in a way, our company. How much he does for us goes above and beyond what we expected out of a vendor. He’s a big part of our success and makes us feel like we’re BillCare’s only customer.
Q: What would you tell other agencies who are considering BillCare?
That BillCare is amazing. Jason and I talk about how wonderful you guys are to work with. Honestly. I wouldn’t be doing this interview if I didn’t feel so supported. Anything we need, anytime we need something new built, you’re on it. It means the world to us. It really does.
BillCare helps us accurately track our billing and anything we’re missing. It’s been the number one factor in allowing us to grow because it gives us a solid financial foundation.
Q: What makes for a successful vendor/agency relationship?
Communication. Communication for sure. And how you actually work together. We want to make it easy for BillCare too.
If we both work together, we both succeed. We’ve been able to grow together, which is the coolest thing. It’s awesome!