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What Do Medical Answering Services Cost? The 2024 Comprehensive Guide
Andrew Charles

By: Andrew Charles on February 19th, 2024

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What Do Medical Answering Services Cost? The 2024 Comprehensive Guide


Today’s medical practices are swamped with more calls than ever. Practice managers handle these callers, along with patients and doctors, while trying to ensure patients maintain their satisfaction and safety. This can get overwhelming.

As a company that’s been providing answering services for the healthcare industry for over 90 years, we can say - all hope is not lost.

Medical answering services aim to ease the practice manager's workload. Here, call centers connect patients, healthcare providers, and hospitals so that the practice manager can carry out their job stress-free. 

“What exactly do these services cost?” “What should I look out for?”
“Which medical answering service is right for my medical practice?”

We get asked these questions a lot, which is why we're here to help you understand the top 4 factors that influence costs of medical answering services:

  1. The Call Volume and Complexity Coming into Your Medical Practice

  2. The Coverage You Need for Your Medical Practice
  3. The Training Required for Medical Call Center Agents
  4. Being a HIPAA Compliant Medical Answering Service  

Or you could jump ahead in this blog to see what medical answering services cost in 2024.

We hope that by the end of this blog, you can find the answers to these questions useful when deciding if a medical answering service is right for your practice. Now, let's look closely at these cost-drivers:


1. The Call Volume and Complexity Coming into Your Medical Practice

The number of patient calls your medical practice receives directly impacts how much you pay. Typically, practices with high call volumes benefit from a plan with economies of scale, while smaller practices would opt for a plan aimed at personalized attention.

Consider the complexity of your calls—are they urgent medical inquiries or routine appointment requests? The ratio of urgent to routine calls is a way we assess what pricing plan makes sense for your practice.


2. The Coverage You Need for Your Medical Practice

Some healthcare practices require 24/7 coverage with daytime, overflow, and after-hours answering. Others might just focus on after-hours support to handle patient, doctor, and hospital calls. As you could guess, 24/7 support would cost more, with the cost increasing depending on if you need additional services like bilingual support or secure messaging.

Depending on the physician answering service you go with, the level of coverage you choose affects the total billed amount.


3. The Training Required for Medical Call Center Agents

Having enough call center agents behind the phone is one thing, having the right agents is another. And having a roster of agents qualified for answering healthcare service calls does not come cheap.

For instance, we conduct ongoing training to ensure our agents are up-to-date on HIPAA/HB-300 compliance. We also ensure that our agents are well-equipped to deal with the various medical calls they would receive in the healthcare industry.

If there aren’t qualified agents, mistakes may be made by overwhelmed agents. This will lead to your phones going unanswered, leaving patients and doctors on hold forever.


4. Being a HIPAA Compliant Medical Answering Service

For a healthcare call center, being able to relay patient privacy securely is the highest priority.

Being HIPAA and HB-300 compliant does not come cheap. We spend around six figures annually on these medical compliances. This includes the certifications, ongoing training, and collaboration with an external firm to conduct compliance audits.

This rules out most forms of communications which are easy-to-use but not secure, like text messaging. However, there are options that maintain an ease-of-use while upholding privacy, in line with HIPAA.

So, when seeking service providers, consider those who offer easy-to-use secure communications that align with HIPAA and HB-300 guidelines, like the Startel Secure Messaging App.

Bonus: Hidden Costs of Medical Answering Services

We’ve seen a few hidden costs from physician answering services in our time around the block. One of the more misleading ones we advise people to look out for are call centers offering “free” patch time. Essentially, when calls require transferring to on-call physicians, patch time charges usually apply. Plenty of call centers say its "free" but you're really being charged. Clarify these fees upfront.

Hidden fees get the best of us. Find out what are other hidden charges when shopping for medical answering services.

Learn More About Hidden Charges


Pricing Models for Medical Answering Services

Physician answering services typically offer the following pricing models:

Per-Call Charges

A per-call pricing model is usually easier to understand at first. For example, if you’re aware that your daily call volume hovers around 50, you can get a plan that gives you 50 calls a month. The per-call pricing model might seem straightforward, but there are hidden charges.

Here’s the catch: call centers define a ‘call’ in various ways, some of which might surprise you:

  • Wrong numbers, hang-ups, and even those quick queries like “What time does the office open?” all count as full-fledged ‘calls’.
  • A ‘call’ could also encompass activities beyond voice conversations. Think sending texts, emails, or faxes, as well as leaving messages in voicemail boxes—even if no one picks up.

Regardless, when we surveyed the industry, we found these averages for per-call plans:

Price ($/month) Plan (Calls) Monthly Call Volume
$175 - $275 65 50
$295 - $395 170 125
$549 - $649 330 250
$1,075 - $1,175 650 500
$2,675 - $2,775 1,650 1,250

Per-Minute Charges

Per-minute plans bill based on the minutes of work time used for each call. In short, you only pay for what you use. Currently, per-minute billing stands as the industry’s standard.

Based on our annual data from the previous year, we found the average medical answering service plan in 2024 costs between $1.75 to $2.25 per minute.

We also gathered the following information regarding the industry average on the costs of doctor answering services that bill per-minute.

Price ($/month) Plan (Minutes) Monthly Call Volume
$175 - $275 100 50
$295 - $395 250 125
$549 - $649 500 250
$1,075 - $1,175 1,000 500
$2,675 - $2,775 2,500 1,250


Which Medical Answering Service Is Right for Me?


Now that you know the costs that go into medical answering services, we hope you're able to decide as to whether you're ready to get a medical answering service for your practice. But you might still have questions, so if you're wondering:

"What should I look for in a medical answering service and how do I choose it?",

“What else do I need to know about medical answering services before I get one?",

Or, “What’s the best medical answering service in 2024?”

You would be pleased to hear these are questions we hear regularly. We hope that these resources help you in your decision.

If you're interested in our medical answering services, feel free to reach out to us and request a quote today!

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About Andrew Charles