What is a medical answering service? It is a service employed by many healthcare professionals to make sure that they will be able to know of their patients' needs and requests 24/7. It consists of phone answering services that include setting of appointments; patching of calls to the pertinent doctors; and handling of emergency medical calls. Health care professionals who sign up for a medical answering service would expect live answering services or a virtual answering service that their patients could reach at all hours.
Starting your own medical service could prove to be a very profitable venture in the long run. For example, ICS Medical Services based in Madison, Wisconsin, has a recorded $980,000 in total revenue in a year. Aside from the profits, a medical answering service is one business that would give you the opportunity to work from home and supply good jobs, as well. So if you're looking into starting your own medical answering service, here are some tips that would help you out:
- Find out the competitive rates for medical answering services. Knowing how much similar businesses are charging would give you an idea about how to calculate for your own company's rates and packages. Currently, going rates for medical answering services could range from around $50 per month to about $400 a month. This generally depends on the number of minutes bought for the call answering services. For example, 100 minutes (for one month) could run up to $75 to $90. Upon starting, however, you could attract more businesses if you charge much lower than other phone answering services. You could start by charging your customers around $60 for 100 calls, plus phone line (about $20 a month). Small enterprises would definitely appreciate these lower rates.
- Know the different services that your company would need to offer. Since phone answering services are expected to answer calls 24/7, make sure that you'd have sufficient employees to fulfill this demand. Three to four operators could be a workable number. Make sure that they are able to handle calls professionally, and that they have enough knowledge of medical terms and procedures to be able to efficiently handle calls ranging from the routine doctor's appointment request to an emergency situation. Of course, your employees should also have a pleasant voice and diction and good grammar. You could choose to train them for this yourself, or let them take relevant classes. Some companies also offer business answering services with bilingual operators. You could opt to add that to your own menu list of services too, if this is possible.
- Know the equipment that you'd need. Basic initial equipment that you'd need would be a phone, and a phone line for each of your clients. As your business expands, you could invest in software and a specialized program for your business systems to help you more efficiently record and keep track of calls.
- Advertise your business. Of course, people must know of your existence before they begin to hire you. The key here is to make your presence known. The good news is, this doesn't have to be expensive, especially with the extent of technology available nowadays. Create a website for your business; blog about it; take out an ad in a local newspaper; even visit local healthcare companies to let them know of how your business would benefit them. It's important that you limit your target market (see number 6) to better concentrate your efforts.
- Find out about the business laws and regulations in your location. To be sure which papers and dues you'd have to pay to establish your company, it's best to read up on relevant laws. If you are planning to put up your business in Syracuse, New York for example, it's good to ask at the state and city level about its pertinent business regulations.
- Limit your target market. Focusing your market to a more specialized niche is a good idea, most especially when you're just starting out. In fact, even some big medical phone answering services limit their area of operations. One example is Medical Answering Services of Oregon, which limit their service to the Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington area.
These are just some of the tips to help you get started in putting up your own medical answering service. Good luck, and here's to a good business!