How Much Does a Medical Answering Service Cost?
When choosing a medical answering service, you will need to consider the pricing alternatives and decide what works best for your company. Whether you’re looking for a 24-hour medical answering service for after-hours or just call management for daily overflow, there are a few price structure options. Remember, not all answering services are the same, and their pricing and quality assurance will reflect that.
1. Flat Rate Pricing
Flat rate billing is attractive at first, but it requires businesses to know how many minutes they will use each billing cycle in order to get the best value. It is generally recommended for low-volume organizations.
When larger organizations take advantage of flat rate pricing, call management resources may not be prepared to flex and scale up to handle peaks in volume. This is a catalyst for high holds time, dispatching errors, and overall quality degradation. For most healthcare organizations, due to the variable call volume and complexity of call management, a flat-rate structure isn’t the best option.
2. Per Minute Pricing
Though this plan seems straightforward, with per-minute pricing, a 10-minute call is billed as 10 minutes. This leaves little incentive for the answering service to encourage efficiency among their agents, thereby increasing your monthly expenses. In fact, a dishonest answering service provider may try to take advantage of customers with this type of medical answering pricing. Some may train their agents to purposefully slow down for quality when handling calls solely to increase billable time. There truly is a fine line to quality and handling a call efficiently, accurately, and ethically.
It’s also important to understand how a minute is defined. Does it only include talk time? How is wrap-up time, administration work, and hold time billed? Are minutes rounded to the nearest second, or calculated and summed into 6, 12, or 18-second increments? There are many factors that add to the perception of a low, per-minute cost. However, extra fees and charges can be very expensive and add up quickly.
3. Per Unit Pricing
Pay-as-you go is the simplest, most transparent medical answering service pricing model. This consumption-based option measures billable units defined as specific events. Event include inbound and outbound calls, emails, faxes, SMS, and patching. This model can help your organization optimize staffing and the flow of communications by seeing all billing details illustrating the overall picture of your call volume footprint.
With per unit pricing, a 10-minute call is billed as 1 unit. For this reason, answering service providers are encouraged to train their employees to handle all types of callers and communication challenges efficiently while assuming some of the risk associated with caller difficulty. Ensuring that costs are contained, while service quality remains high, this is the clearest and most cost-effective pricing model for most organizations.
Costs Associated with HIPAA Compliance
The costs associated with maintaining HIPAA compliance are variable depending upon the medical answering service. Some providers use Tiger Text, Onpage, Gmail, or other HIPAA-compliant SMS solutions all of which have additional costs that are sometimes hidden. These cost up to $10-15 per doctor, per month which results in high recurring fees for the use of a secure platform.
A true HIPAA-compliant medical answering service, such as PatientCalls, provides its own secure SMS platform which is FREE of charge.
Shopping for HIPAA-compliant answering services for medical offices can be challenging. Different pricing models and billing structures make it difficult to compare service providers. Ultimately, there will always be the question of cost versus value and quality. You must determine the value of professional patient care and the quality of life for personnel after-hours.
Look for a qualified provider that ensures caring, reliable, and flexible call management services, in addition to transparent pricing options. Requesting a quote specifically for your healthcare practice is the first step in making a well-informed decision.