How do I Choose the Best Physicians Answering Service?

Laura M. Sands

When selecting the best physicians answering service, only consider ones that are experienced in handling medical calls after hours or during times of overflow. A good way to gather a few options is to ask other physicians and doctor groups for referrals. Also, consider how many calls you expect to have during these times and whether or not the physicians answering service is equipped to handle your office’s call volume. Be sure that each company you consider offers friendly service at an affordable price. Ultimately, select the live answering service with the most experience, the best reputation and the one that can meet all of your needs.

The best physicians answering service is one which meets a physician’s needs at an affordable price.
The best physicians answering service is one which meets a physician’s needs at an affordable price.

Not all answering services are experienced in answering medical calls after hours. It is very important that operators understand the medical jargon that may sometimes be used by incoming callers and that operators can accurately decipher urgent calls and understand how to handle them. The ability to follow your personal instructions is important, but it is equally important for a physicians answering service to be experienced in handling queries and messaging that is unique to your business. Only consider medical answering service companies that have a good track record in these areas.

One way of compiling a list of considerations for a physicians answering service is to ask your colleagues about the services each is currently using or has used in the past. Also, ask if there are any specific answering services that should be avoided and why. Once you’ve begun to gather a list of different physicians answering service companies, call each one or visit their offices to learn more about their services and pricing.

Before you begin interviewing various physicians answering service providers, take the time to calculate your expected call volume. Ask your daytime reception staff about the kinds of questions and concerns your patients have when they call your office. Also, ask your staff for an estimated amount of calls currently coming into your office after hours, during lunch breaks or on your busiest days.

After you’ve begun to interview a few possible physicians answering service providers, ask the ones that you’re interested in for a full list of services they provide beyond answering phones. Some may offer 24-hour answering service, call forwarding or paging services, which you may need. Inquire about rates for primary service and be sure to ask if you are expected to pay more on holidays or when your offices may be closed for an extended period.

Begin to narrow your list of physicians answering service providers down according to which ones offer the most experienced, affordable and friendly service. Next, ask the services you like if it is possible for you to place a couple of calls to the numbers that each answers for existing clients. Let them know that you’d like to call in at a random time to test their patient customer service. Make your final decision according to which one meets your needs at a price you can afford.

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