Do You Have a $30 per Hour Nurse Doing $12 per Hour Phone Work?
September 25, 2018
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 email@example.com, or call 800-901-7706.
Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan.
Agent Success Starts With Great Training
In the call center arena, your frontline people are key to success. This starts on day one of their employment in their initial training. Here are som...
How Not to Sell Your Telephone Answering Service
There are some commonsense steps to take when selling your telephone answering service, just as there are when selling anything. Common key elements i...
Why You Should Consolidate Siloed Call Centers
It’s likely your hospital system has at least one call center, a centralized place that handles calls. This may be for a department, a building, the...
Use an Answering Service to Schedule Appointments
Some businesses and professionals live or die by the number of appointments they have each day. For them, an appointment is a billable moment. A full ...
Use an Answering Service to Cover Staff Meetings
It’s a dilemma. You want all of your staff to attend your staff meetings, but that leaves no one left to answer the phone when it rings. After all, ...
Make Sure Your Email Has a Clear and Easy-to-Use Opt-Out Procedure
A key to keeping in touch with prospects for your answering service or call center is to collect email addresses and send out periodic updates or info...
Are You Sick of Hearing Complaints about Your Answering Service?
If you are the owner of a small business or the business manager in charge of overseeing your answering service, does it sometimes seem as if your ans...
Finding a New Call Center is a Big Deal
Finding a new call center to service and handle your calls is not something to pursue with casual indifference. There is much at stake. You can’t af...