Sometimes business decisions for the expenditure of money are made based on their ROI (return on investment). This is often true in healthcare. The basic calculation for ROI is net profit divided by total investment times 100. The result is a percentage, the higher the better. This allows the value of different investments to be easily compared.
This same concept applies to hiring a medical answering service. However, to fully understand the total value derived from engaging an answering service, we need to tweak the formula. We must also include a consideration of money saved, as well as the intangible benefits of happier patients and a heightened brand awareness.
But first let's start with the basics in calculating answering service ROI:
Appointments Made: Having an answering service take appointments will result in an increase in productivity for staff and greater occupancy of expensive medical equipment. Each appointment made, either for a healthcare provider or to conduct a test utilizing high-tech medical devices, will result in additional revenue. This should be the first element included in your ROI calculation. Without your medical answering service, this revenue would be lost.
Physicians Referred: Medical answering services can also provide phone referrals to other healthcare providers within your network or system. In doing so they keep their healthcare dollars within your organization, which boosts their lifetime value as a patient. To be fully accurate, the entire lifetime value of that patient to the referred provider must be included. However, since this is a future-looking amount, instead use an estimated figure based on an average lifetime value. Again, the value of these referrals must be included in your ROI calculation, since your answering service is integral to making them happen.
Labor Saved: A counterpart to profit is reduced expenses. For a holistic consideration of answering service ROI, this component cannot be overlooked.
Answering services handle your calls 24/7. What would it cost to process these in-house? To cover weekends, evenings, and third shift, you would need at least four FTEs (full-time equivalents). Take their hourly rate, possible overtime, and the cost to cover breaks and lunches, vacation pay, sick time, personal days off, payroll and taxes, unemployment benefits, supervision, and so on. The cost adds up quickly.
Combining these elements, the cost for you to answer your phone after hours with in-house staff could easily exceed $100,000 a year. Instead, you outsource this work to your answering service for a couple hundred dollars a month. The difference is significant.
The cost of this saved labor should rightfully be incorporated in your ROI calculations.
Patients Accommodated: There's a tangible, as well as intangible, benefit to your patients for every call your answering service handles. The direct benefit is that it saves them from calling back during regular business hours when your staff would have to handle the transaction. The indirect benefit is increased patient satisfaction and a reduced interruption of their work. When your answering service handles a call, they keep a customer from phoning your competition.
The value of this is hard to account for, but you can assign an estimated value to each call your answering service takes. This might be ten dollars, fifty, a hundred, or more, but the number you pick will reflect the value you place on the lifetime value of each patient.
Imaged Enhanced: A final value consideration for your answering service ROI is likewise hard to assess. It relates to your public image in the marketplace. Quite succinctly, a healthcare provider whose calls are answered 24/7 is valued by today's buying public, who expects to find answers to their questions and solutions to problems any time of the day or night, according to whatever schedule suits them, which may not align with your hours of operation.
Compare this to the negative image generated by companies who make it hard for customers to contact them. They hide behind voicemail, don't post a phone number online, and are lackadaisical about checking their corporate email. These actions generate the ire of their customers, which deflates their public image.
With a medical answering service handling your calls, you stand to delight your customers by providing them around-the-clock availability that they increasingly expect and sometimes demand. What is the value of this enhanced public image?
This is left for you to decide, based on the value you place on your corporate reputation. Again, you can assign a dollar value per call to do a rough calculation.
Conclusion: To complete an accurate ROI analysis of hiring a medical answering service, you must consider five components. First, look at the appointments scheduled and then referrals made. Next, factor in labor saved. These are tangible numbers and easy to calculate. For a complete analysis, however, it's important to consider intangible results, which includes patient sentiment and public image. Some might say these are priceless. If so that means your answering service ROI is infinite.
When looking at the value of hiring an answering service, don't look at the cost of their monthly service, instead consider them as an investment and look at the complete ROI that they will provide.
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.