Hospitals, clinics, and doctors are always looking for a way to save money. A few cents here and a couple dollars there can add up over the course of a month and the year. Sometimes, however, saving a few dollars can have a negative consequence on your business and your patients. That’s why it’s never a good idea to go with the least-cost provider.
This applies to your medical answering service, too. There will always be an answering service somewhere that charges less. But the cost of saving a few dollars may actually be high. Consider how you might lose if you hire a cheap answering service.
- Understaffed: An answering service is a labor-intensive business. A high percentage of their costs goes to staffing. If they charge less that means they’ve shaved their costs someplace. The most likely area is staffing.
Why should using an understaffed answering service concern you? The answer is simple. An understaffed answering service has underserved clients. If they don’t have enough employees to answer all the phone calls that come in, your phone will ring longer or may not even be answered at all, callers and patients are put on hold more frequently, and their staff rushes through each call to handle the backlog of people waiting in queue.
The result of an understaffed answering service is poor quality. Your patients deserve better.
- Poor Hiring Process: A cut-rate answering service also can’t afford to hire the best staff. That doesn’t mean all their employees are substandard, but too many are. Because they charge less, they must pay less. This means hiring people with lesser qualifications and a less robust work history.
As a result, the bargain answering service is more focused on hiring anyone who’s interested as opposed to the most qualified person. Again, your patients and callers suffer.
- Inadequate Training: Another area that a cheap answering service cuts corners on is training. New employees must be instructed in advanced telephone techniques and superior customer service skills. This takes time, and it costs money. And since the bargain answering service doesn’t charge as much, they don’t have as much money to invest in training. In fact, they might not offer any training at all. Instead, they could have their new operators answering healthcare calls on their first day of employment and having received no training at all.
How would you like someone answering your phone who had received no instruction? The risk of lost patients and their future business is too great a risk to take.
- Shaky Infrastructure: Aside from staffing, another large area of expense for answering services is their technology infrastructure. This includes computers, servers, network devices, backup systems, emergency power, disaster recovery plans, redundant internet and phone service, and a host of other related issues.
In order to charge less, this is another area the bargain answering service commonly scrimps on. This means that any number of problems could affect their ability to answer your calls.
If a medical answering service can’t answer your calls, what’s the point of having them?
- Lack of Compliance: A common area a bargain rate medical answering service will cut corners on is complying with the various regulations and laws that affect healthcare. Chief among these is HIPAA compliance. If your answering service doesn’t follow HIPAA guidelines and best practices, they’re leaving you open to legal and ethical ramifications. A HIPAA breach by your answering service is a serious issue because you are ultimately responsible for the things they do or don’t do.
- Uncertain Future: A final consideration of a cut-rate answering service is their long-term viability as a business. Quite simply, if they don’t charge enough to be able to run an effective business, they won’t be in business for long. They could close their doors, and when they do, you receive no warning. The first hint of problems will be unanswered phone calls or perpetual busy signals. Then you’re left scrambling to find an alternative.
Although a cheap answering service may save you a dollar or two a day, the risk to your business and the impact to your patients isn’t worth a few pennies. You worked hard to build your practice and invested time to develop your patient base, so don’t let a cheap answering service ruin all you toiled to establish.
Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your clinic or practice and get a free quote to find out just how affordable their critical communication services are. Peter DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority.