Beyond Butts In Seats

2 min read

The true cost of staffing an internal call center

First and foremost, your call center needs agents— but not just any agents. Many healthcare leaders are prone to oversimplifying the role of agents when considering an internal call center build; minimizing them to basic numbers such as calls handled or butts in seats. This is a common mistake that can result in serious miscalculations in cost, poor service, and revenue loss. Patient access staff has a critical role in the patient journey capable of influencing each interaction with your organization that follows. Healthcare call centers require a special kind of person to field calls from often distressed patients while executing the complexities of scheduling systems, CRMs, and honoring practice guidelines.

Recruiting and retaining this kind of talent is difficult, call centers have a notoriously high turnover rate, nearly double that of any other industry at more than 30%. And don’t think you can cut corners with technology! Trying to replace agents with engagement technologies is another common trap. This can have a negative impact on the caller experience, particularly in healthcare. Coordinators must engage patients in a way that reflects care culture, guiding the conversation, getting the information necessary for treatment, and being on alert for a potential medical emergency at the same time. Healthcare will never be able to fully replace the impact of a human touch with self-service technologies, which is why staffing a healthcare call center can be so burdensome.

Standard operating staff

  • Agents
  • Team leads and supervisors
  • Operations and IT
  • Program Specialists
  • HR and recruiting

You’ll also need to consider staff beyond agents. Your technology suite requires management which means you’ll need teams of IT and operational specialists. Additionally, you’ll need program specialists and supervisors to oversee operations, track and enforce performance goals, and align the work of your access center with the goals of your practice. Aside from standard operating staff, auxiliary expenses such as benefits, onboarding, and training contribute to the overall labor cost. With turnover so high, the cost of onboarding and training can quickly add up to impact profitability— per-agent estimates for training ranges between $10,000 and $15,000!

You can anticipate between $5 and $6 million annually for 100 butts in seats…

And that doesn’t include auxiliary staff or expenses. You can see how payroll is typically the most expensive aspect of call center operations. However, in a healthcare call center, the true cost of staffing is the ability (or inability) to provide the kind of patient experience that inspires loyalty and supports growth.

Read more about the costs of internal healthcare call centers in our white paper:

Healthcare Call Center: DIY or Buy?