May 05, 2021 | 10 min read

Pitfalls of Outsourcing Medical Call Centers and How to Avoid them

Alexander Kulitski , CEO at Smart IT

Recent advancements in technology have opened the door to new healthcare customer services. One of them is telemedicine. Telemedicine refers to the practice of consulting patients remotely, using audio and video calls, which implies that a patient does not need to come to a hospital to meet a doctor anymore.

Today’s access to telemedicine and multiple contact channels helps reduce stress due to the feeling of constant care from your hospital, which is “always on the line.”  The majority of current contact center solutions support omni-channel communication – via chat, email, phone or video calls. This also gives patients flexibility to choose the most convenient and easy way to talk to a doctor.

All of the above allows healthcare companies to gain the loyalty of their customers due to improved service, optimizations in operations, and, hence, decreasing costs. An important component that allows them to provide constant medical consultations and telecommunication to patients at any time is a contact center.

Types of Contact Centres

There are two ways of going about setting up a healthcare call\contact center services — in-house and outsourced. 

An in-house hospital call/contact center is hosted on site, which allows for better control over its operation, but also causes more investments in recruiting and managing the personnel, unreasonable costs which do not adapt to the demand scaling up and down and may result in customers’ dissatisfaction due to temporary service unavailability.

Currently, more and more healthcare service providers understand the benefits of outsourcing a call center. We can name some of them:

Currently, more and more healthcare service providers understand the benefits of outsourcing a call center. We can name some of them:

  • Cost Reduction. With call centers outsourced, there is no need to pay for infrastructure. A contract is all that you need to cover your company’s needs. With an outsourced call center, your company can save up to 50%. 
  • Ready, Trained Staff. Outsourced call agents usually have special customer service training. Also, call agents gain experience from working with numerous companies., outsourcing providers can bring along a pool of experienced staff, eliminating all the hiring hussle and recruitment costs.

  • Management of Staff and Productivity. Hiring and managing staff can be a hard and time-consuming task. Outsourced managers will do it for you. This allows you to reduce the management task and focus on productivity. Outsourced solutions such as Twilio for example, have embedded analytics tools to track productivity.

  • Risk Mitigation. Usually, with an outsourced call center, you may engage in business with a mutual risk agreement. This provides some sense of security to you and the outsourcer.

  • Scalability. Upgrading or downgrading can be really problematic with an in-house call center. Increasing or downgrading your number of seats is, however, seamless with an outsourcer. For telemedicine and healthcare in general, this is more so because staff can work from anywhere. 

The central component of a modern contact center is the software that allows to receive and process patients’ requests, incorporating multiple communication channels — chat, email, calls; track the history of the services provided to a patient, calculate costs and provide analytics over contact center operations.

And it can be argued that digital transformation of contact centers, with omni-channel access and cloud computing are giving companies a competitive edge. Simply due to the ease of operation, access to analytics data and higher levels of customer satisfaction across the board. 

However modernizing your legacy system can be a challenge and there are certainly major pitfalls along the way that need to be addressed.

System Requirements

The software system should meet strong security requirements to be compliant with governance standards like HIPAA and be able to integrate with your company’s systems layout — CRM and/or EMR systems. Developing such a software system requires a team with strong expertise in the matter to be able to incorporate all the requirements and provide a stable, reliable, and scalable solution. 

Also, difficulties may appear while trying to establish IT infrastructure in-house:

  • high initial costs;
  • resource provision issues;
  • hiring personnel to maintain the system;

To address these issues, one may opt for SaaS or IaaS solutions from cloud providers. Some providers, like AWS, provide an infrastructure capable of meeting HIPAA standards. One of the best solutions that we have worked with on our own projects is Twilio Healthcare Service (this is a shoutout from us, because the attention to details and ease of use that these guys made deserve at least a mention). 

5 Pitfalls You May Face when Outsourcing a call center

As you can see, medical organizations can gain many benefits from outsourcing in healthcare, though it presents some specific risks that should be kept in mind while making the decision whether to outsource. What are the major risks and pitfalls you should be prepared to deal with? We are going to discuss it right now.

Data Privacy & Security

Despite what contact center type you choose for your business, you are still subject to compliance to rules forced by government authorities like Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which implies secure storage of medical data of US patients, or General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which regulates the storage of personal data of EU citizens. Non-compliance to any of these regulations may result in extremely large fines. Companies dealing with personal medical data are obliged to use HIPAA compliant call center software and to follow governmental regulations like GDPR, which prescribe to store and process personal data in a secure way and may restrict the location of the data. 

When all employees that may need to have access to the patient’s data are located in one building, developing a storage system compliant with all regulations is not a big deal. Things become complicated by introducing outsourcing. For healthcare businesses, this means that one cannot blindly spread the data among local databases hosted by service suppliers (e.g., outsourced call centers). Instead, the data management process should be well-defined with determined regions where databases are located, protection policy, incidence detection, and response processes in place. 

All these factors should be considered and decided upon while designing a call center software system. Outsourcing the solution allows you not to worry about all these areas. It is possible because all required protection policies are a part of the design of many systems provided by healthcare call center providers. 

Control over Customer Management

You might not know for sure if the outsourced call center is operating on the agreed scale and is serving your patients’ requests. In addition to that, if you do not have a proper Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system or Electronic Medical Records (EMR) integrated with contact center, your patients’ requests may get spread across different systems used by the call center service supplier. This may obstruct communicating with your customers, following up on their requests, and running you into vendor lock-in. It may happen since you cannot change a vendor without the risk of losing contact with many of your customers. 

To address this risk, first of all, you should have well-defined Service Level Agreements (SLA) with the company which you have outsourced the call center to. Possible requests throughout, as well as sanctions in case a supplier fails to follow the agreements, should be determined. In addition to the KPIs defined in the contract, a proper CRM or EMR system will address the issue, allowing you to keep requests’ track on your side. At the same time, monitoring the customers’ activity and providing insights on how well the defined SLAs are followed. Also, it empowers you to detect anomalies, e.g., a drastic decrease in the number of patients’ requests, consolidate and analyze complaints and react accordingly.

Quality Assurance

The reliability of a call center provider is vital for the operation of a healthcare business, and subsequently, it is subject to in-depth research. The provider should be able to record all the calls and be willing to share testimonials from its clients. Pay attention to how long the clients tend to stay with the provider and ask about the reasons for canceled partnerships. 

At the same time, this evaluation process does not stop with signing a contract with the provider. You should constantly monitor the activity of the provider to ensure the service corresponds to the quality standards defined in the contract. For this, you may need a proper analytics system to track parameters like the number of calls taken by the call center or the average length of a call. You should also be ready to compare these values to the ones observed before the partnership and see their evolution over time. These parameters can be tracked in a call center software system if it provides analytics over call center operations.

Integrating Call Center into a Company System Layout 

The call center cannot exist as a separate component at length, it should be integrated with other systems to provide proper operation of a whole business. This integration process goes far beyond specifying the required API for all the systems used and developing/adjusting the call center software system so that it would use it. The integration part requires an in-depth analysis of processes tracked in your CRM and EMR systems. Also, it requires analysis of data flow patterns and influences many design decisions for the call center system. More on the integration challenges and how to meet them, we discuss in this article.

Hidden Costs

Some providers may insist on committing to a large contract, even though the expected workload is not so high. General advice is to start with minimal costs and then to upgrade the package. If pricing is flexible, proper monitoring of all incoming patients’ requests will let you calculate all the costs by yourself. It would be better than blindly putting your faith in the provider’s calculations. While choosing a call center system, opt for the solutions that provide budget configuration, costs estimation and tracking.

Linguistic and Cultural Barriers

Mutual understanding between doctors and patients is especially important for the effectiveness of treatment and patient satisfaction. Linguistic and cultural barriers may negatively affect the treatment and decrease patient’s loyalty to a medical company. Therefore, if you are outsourcing your call center overseas, you should make sure that the personnel will communicate with patients in their language. 

If a doctor and a patient have similar points of view because of their location, religion, culture, environment, and so on, it will make patients more loyal. Some call center systems allow to smooth the linguistic and cultural barriers through advanced features like decisions on the operator assignment based on the voice/text recognition and may include additional translation features.

Major Patient Engagement Platforms Providers

So as we are seeing, moving away from traditional call-centers and moving communication to the cloud as well as employing an omni-channel approach is the way to go. As it stands, traditional call-centers simply don’t hold up and don’t provide you with a level of security and autonomy over your business workflow as modern patient engagement platforms. New SaaS and IaaS solutions give you more freedom to track your business performance and adapt to changing needs and it gives your customers better experience and provides them with choice.

Currently there are multiple companies in the market which provide such solutions. Since it is impossible to create one solution satisfying all needs, the solutions proposed by the companies are tailor for different business models and domain areas. 


Although there are quite a few pitfalls, which might seem intimidating in the beginning, with the support of experienced professionals in this area, advanced healthcare software services, and a proper CRM system in place can successfully outsource a medical call center and enjoy the benefits which this decision gives. If you need more information on the topic, you can reach out to us for a consultation or check out an example solution that we developed for one of our clients.

05 May 2021


Alexander Kulitski, CEO at Smart IT

Alex is Founder and CEO of Smart IT and is the co-founder and executive CTO at MEDvidi. Being a serial entrepreneur, he is a keen investor in technology startups and runs several successful side projects besides Smart IT and MEDvidi. [email protected]