Connecting with your patients whenever they need you is paramount for any medical office, but it’s impossible for you to be available around-the-clock without stop.

Even with on-call doctors and extra help, the phones can get bogged down and long nights become even longer with non-emergency patients calling again and again. These reasons and more are why now is the best time to hire a medical answering service.

What Medical Answering Services Can Offer

A medical answering service might seem like a luxury when you can just set up a voicemail box and give your patients an emergency number, but after a few weeks, both you and your patients may grow very tired of this not-so-perfect system.

Hiring a medical answering service can solve many of the problems of a busy medical office, including:

Providing a friendly voice for distressed callers. Patients don’t usually call just to chat, they’re often sick or worried about a family member. In these situations, sterile voicemail won’t do — they need a friendly and sympathetic voice on the line. A medical answering service is skilled in handling medical patients and providing them with the support they need while still handling the call efficiently.

Screening emergency calls. Your patients aren’t medical experts, so they may call you after hours when they’re not actually in serious distress. Although an occasional non-emergency call isn’t a big deal, if patients are calling regularly during your off time, your risk for burnout and exhaustion increase dramatically. Your medical answering service can screen patients and give advice based on your instructions, including which to forward to your cell phone any time of the day or night.

Handling overflow calls. When your office is busy, you probably wish you could afford an extra full time employee to take the calls. Unfortunately, you can’t justify the expense for a few random hours a day. Lucky for you, medical answering services can be used for overflow calls and you’ll only pay for the calls they actually take. It’s a huge savings over another employee, especially when the overflow is irregular.

Giving patients a lifeline during a disaster. Tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and other disasters can be especially terrifying for patients with chronic illnesses. Not knowing when their doctor might be back is understandably frustrating for patients who are already under stress dealing with the same disaster themselves. Hiring an answering service ensures that those patients will be able to contact your office for updates and get messages through to you if they need medication refills or require medical advice.

When it comes to hiring a medical answering service, there’s no question that the right time is right away. What an answering service can offer to your patients in customer service and to you in peace of mind is cannot be measured. Couple that with the convenience and low cost of having an extra hand available as needed, and it’s not hard to see that a medical answering service is really a necessity for any medical practice.