How Do You Know Which Hotline Vendor is Right for Your Organization?

Many organizations are faced with the decision to outsource their hot line. This is an area unfamiliar to most people charged with making the decision. How can someone be sure he or she is making the right decision? What should he or she be looking for in companies that offer employee hotline services? What questions should he or she ask of prospective companies? What should he or she watch out for in contracts?

All of these are valid questions. The following tips are offered to assist you in making the right decision.

There are many companies available from which to choose. These hot line services usually base their fees on the service population (i.e., number of employees). Price is always a major consideration in selecting any service. Take bids from several vendors, and compare the results.

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Price, however, is not everything. You need to be sure you are getting value for your expenditures. As such, there are many other factors that should be considered when selecting a company to handle your hot line operation. The most important consideration is that the company provides services that meet your needs — as opposed to making you accept what they want to give you.

The old adage of the customer always being right should apply to this business as well. Find the company that will give you what you want, not what someone wants to give you. The following list of tips can assist you in deciding which service is best for you.


  • By outsourcing the answering of the hot line, you sacrifice some control over the operation; therefore, proper qualification of a service is critical to a solid decision that will alleviate potential problems.
  • Ask for biographic information on the top principals of the companies being considered and look to their experience in providing this type of service and expertise in understanding the issues and regulatory environment in which you have to do business (i.e., are they credible?).
  • Determine how long they have been providing this type of service; the greater the experience base, the less likely errors will be made.
  • Ask for at least five references, and check them out.
  • The hot line service should provide operating protocols, policies, and procedures tailored to your needs to ensure that risks of error (by the organization or the hot line service) are reduced to the lowest possible level.
  • You would be entrusting sensitive corporate information to a third party; thus, you should ensure that your contract contains a strict confidentiality agreement.
  • The contract should have an explicit file record retention (or rather, record destruction) policy so that the third party does not become a repository of corporate information.
  • To avoid losing good information, or possibly avoid aggravating a serious problem, obtain evidence that the service operators have been trained and have sufficient expertise in your sector of the health care industry to recognize implications of caller information.
  • Reports of calls should be provided to the organization within a day of receipt of call.
  • Report formats should be standardized for proper filing and taking action.
  • Logs of all calls taken should be prepared by the service (without identifying data as to callers or subjects of the calls).
  • The company should have a method by which callers could call back using a caller number, rather than identifying themselves.
  • Staff taking the call should take all the time necessary to debrief callers; therefore, there should be …

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