Do You Have a $30 per Hour Nurse Doing $12 per Hour Phone Work?
December 21, 2015
Many healthcare call centers staff a mixture of registered nurses and telephone agents – or at least they should. The nurses do what they’re trained for: answer medical questions and address health situations, while the agents do what they’re trained for: answer calls, take messages, give out information, screen calls, dispatch urgent information, and transfer callers. While some call centers hire only nurses and have them do both jobs, this doesn’t make sense from a financial standpoint, even though it is arguably a tad more efficient.
Just as a hospital wouldn’t expect a nurse to empty the trash, a call center shouldn’t expect a nurse to spend her time handling non-healthcare related activities. For this reason a hospital hires people to keep the wastebaskets empty, along with aides to facilitate nursing activity, so too the healthcare call center hires agents to handle routine non-medical calls in order to free up nurses for work needing their medical expertise. In both situations the nurses are left to do what they were trained for and what they do best: provide healthcare to patients. The agents do the rest.
While it could theoretically be more efficient to staff only nurses and train them to do the work of agents in addition to their own, any small time-savings or efficiency bump is more than offset by the pay differential. Though it varies by market, nurses are paid two to three times, and even more, than what agents commonly earn.
Although it makes sense to cross-train nurses so they can answer, screen, and transfer calls, in addition to taking messages, giving information, and dispatching urgent calls, the need to actually do so should be rare. Sometimes nurses do what they need to do for the overall sake of the organization and its patients, but normally they need to be free to do what they do best.
The other side of this is training agents to not give medical advice or diagnoses. While they, too, have a desire to do what they can to help the organization and its patients, everyone is best served when agents – the non-licensed staff – keep their healthcare knowledge and opinions to themselves.
Another solution to this staffing issue, one embraced by many healthcare providers, is to simply outsource some or all of their call center work. One common way to pursue partial outsourcing is to outsource all of the non-nursing work or vice-versa.
Operating a call center and appropriately scheduling staff to be at work when the calls come in is hard. The magnitude of the challenge doubles when you mix nurses with agents, yet budget issues require this. Perhaps the best solution to staffing, scheduling, and running a call center is to outsource it to call centers that specialize in it. This will free your organization up to do what you do best: see and treat patients.
Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider for the call center and telephone answering service industry. Contact Janet at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 800-901-7706.
Peter DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.
Should You Offer a Free Trial When Selling Answering Service?
Some answering services offer a free trial to new clients. Others do not. Both camps are adamant about their reasons for making this decision. While t...
Sales Support Pays Off Huge for Quality-Minded Answering Service
Supplementing internal sales and marketing with third party sales support is a winning strategy Cunningham Communications, founded in 1989, worked har...
Why You Might Benefit from Having a Multilocation Corporate Call Center
By strict definition a call center is a centralized place where calls are answered. However, technology now allows this fixed characterization to expa...
HIPAA Applies to Your Outsourcing Call Center, Too
As mentioned in “Five Things to Check Before Outsourcing Your Healthcare Calls,” it’s critical to hire a call center that complies with HIPA...
Fast-Track Lead Processing to Maximize Sales Outcomes
It takes time to process sales leads, which decreases close rates In looking at lead response times, we already know that the faster the lead response...
Call Center Sales Pro Taps Pete Gilhooly as Director of Hospital Call Centers
Pete Gilhooly, Telecom veteran with fifteen years’ experience in healthcare vertical joins Call Center Sales Pro FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 20,...
The Three Critical Metrics for Lead Response
Keep Total Lead Qualification Time Low to Maximize Results We’ve discussed how low lead response times affect the likelihood of being able to eventu...
A Slow Lead Response Produces Low Lead Qualification Rates
Maximize lead qualification rates by responding to inquiries fast A common complaint among salespeople is not having enough quality leads. They might ...