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How Much Does a Heathcare Interactive Voice Response System Cost?

Features and Uses of a Heathcare IVR

To manage high call volumes without sacrificing customer service, many healthcare facilities choose to implement an interactive voice response (IVR) system. These platforms allow you to streamline operations to lower overhead costs while making it easier for your patients to answer simple questions and have their calls directed to the correct department or staff member.

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Voice recognition technology has come a long way in recent years. Today's systems recognize normal speech patterns and even filter out background noise and speech. Your callers have the ability to connect directly to scheduling, labs, or pharmacy, or simply receive directions and operating hours.

What Features Will You Find in a Healthcare IVR System?

IVR systems enable you to streamline operations without negatively impacting patient care. The technology frees your staff to handle only those phone transactions that require a live person, without placing callers on hold for extended periods of time.

Common interactive voice response system features include:

  • Automatic number identification
  • Call screening and switching options
  • Database integration
  • Detailed call logs
  • Dialed number identification
  • Direct transfer to departments or personnel
  • Multi-line support
  • Speech recognition
  • Text to speech

IVR systems also handle outbound calls. Outbound platforms are commonly used for tasks like appointment reminders and telephone surveys, especially when you need to contact large numbers of people. In addition, IVR tends to lead survey respondents to answer questions more honestly than when talking to another person.

Important Considerations when Choosing a Medical IVR System

Thanks to the variety of features and capabilities, choosing an IVR system that handles all of your needs is often challenging. Considerations beyond pricing include:

  • Does the system integrate with your other applications? You want an IVR system that works with other applications and programs. This optimizes your IVR system, minimizes costs, and promotes effective customer service.
  • Will your patients find the system user-friendly? If the system isn't intuitive and user-friendly for your patients, your staff pays the price, since they're the ones dealing with frustrated, angry callers. To be user-friendly, the system needs clear instructions with a layered menu that allows detailed interactions.
  • Does the system support modification? You want an IVR system capable of growing and evolving along with your organization.
  • Does the system come with a variety of customer interaction options? The minimum requirement of IVR is call routing. Advanced features and interactions ensure less hold time for your callers and more efficient routing, resulting in happier customers.

How Much Will You Pay for a Healthcare IVR System?

With so many variables, arriving at an accurate estimate for the cost of an IVR system is pretty much impossible, though we can provide a few guidelines, as well as explain where the costs come from and what to ask vendors when seeking bids.

Your first decision is whether you choose to host your IVR in-house or via cloud.

IVR systems hosted in-house start at around $1,500 per line for smaller medical facilities. A medium-sized organization pays substantially more, in the tens of thousands of dollars range, with large healthcare facilities paying hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Cloud systems come at a lower price, because the host provides the equipment, but the range in pricing is similar to the range seen with systems hosted in-house. The reasons for the drastic variations in pricing are numerous and include the many options your facility has when designing its system, as well as logistical concerns such as the number of phone lines. Some of your development options include:

  • The number of backend integration points
  • Speech recognition capabilities
  • Personalization
  • Call flow size, including as the number of branches and menus

The entire cost of your system includes the following fees:

  • IVR usage: The application, infrastructure, IVR platform, maintenance, and compliance
  • Telco: The fees your telecom provider charges, including the cost to transport calls, VoIP, toll free numbers, and taxes
  • Professional services: The development of your system, maintenance, and modifications

When obtaining vendor quotes, ask for a complete breakdown of all of these fees.

The Bottom Line

An IVR system is a substantial investment. However, if your healthcare facility experiences high call volume, reduced staffing needs help you recoup these costs. To protect your investment, try before you buy. Choose a vendor that offers free trials and/or a money-back guarantee. This helps you ensure your chosen platform is up to the demands of your practice.

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