The hybrid-model call center is gaining traction as hospitals look to prioritize their efforts and save money, but still keep control over their services. Using a hybrid model allows healthcare providers to offer a complete call center system even if its in-house operations aren’t that large.
This hybrid model combines both in-house services and contracted, or outsourced, services. Hospitals across the nation are using different combinations, so there’s a growing buzz around what works and what doesn’t — unfortunately specific combinations have proven they work across all situations.
The main reasons medical service providers should consider moving to a hybrid model are their ability to provide assistance and backup in case of emergencies, their ability to control or even cut costs, and their potential as a platform for future growth.
Perhaps the clearest benefit is the addition of an emergency backup by outsourcing part of your system. In an emergency situation or at times of disaster, having an offsite call center can free up some of your staff to help assist with the influx of patients and the need for mobile triage units. Hybrid models don’t always allow for an off-site service to take over the full load, but this type of plan can be developed with your service providers.
An off-site call center can handle overflow when call volume reaches unmanageable levels—this can be due to either an increase in calls or reductions in staff, either permanent or temporary reductions. As budgets get reduced, this provides extra flexibility in peak service times.
Increasing Service, Reducing Cost
Reducing costs doesn’t have to mean reducing staff, but it does often mean outsourcing services. While outside call centers can provide a great buffer for overflow during times of high call volume, operators also need to look at the costs when call volume is low. When call volumes are low, the cost per call actually increases because hospitals are paying their employees the same per hour regardless of volume.
Some services can charge flat rates while others can charge depending on volume. Reduced-volume billing can end up being an added bit of savings.
Cost-savings can also be achieved by turning to outside service providers when a new service or program is going to be added. Adding in programs typically means training staff or hiring new members; it includes buying, testing, and running new equipment or software; and it can even mean expanding hours for services as staff and operations are shuffled. These kinds of costs are all taken care of by the service provider when outsourcing a new program or function.
Planning for the Future
One use of a hybrid model is also to help hospitals plan for the future. The growth model here is adding in new services and additional support before a hospital or organization can fully staff those additions. Adding in a call center would allow an organization to test services and to understand the workflow of new operations – how they work in the abstract and how they can work at your office are often very different things.
Outsourced centers can provide the framework for a new service while a hospital focuses on the entire internal infrastructure it will need to support the work itself. Most professional call centers can be contracted to plug service gaps that in-house systems don’t yet support, but they can also be off-boarded once an internal system can take over.
This hybrid model allows a healthcare organization to prepare for times of disasters or increased call volumes, keep costs down regardless of volumes, and start to expand their operations without the need to expand their staff.
Kurt Duncan is the Director of Operations of MedConnectUSA.com. MedConnectUSA is a leading medical answering service and has been serving the healthcare industry since 1991.