All else being equal, a doctor’s office that uses an answering service has a competitive advantage over one that doesn’t. There are a number of reasons for this, and chief among them is the fact that it provides patients with a tremendous degree of peace of mind. The ability to get through to a medical professional, one way or the other, at any time of the night or day is really very comforting to people. This is especially true for patients with chronic diseases, but even healthy patients appreciate this level of access. It takes a lot of the worry out of life.
Another benefit of an answering service which can result in your office having a competitive advantage is that it increases your patients’ perception that you really care about them. Sometimes doctors have a reputation in their patients’ minds for being cold and disconnected. Admittedly, in many cases, this reputation is well deserved. Most of the time, however, it isn’t. By making the services of your office available to your patients around the clock, even if it’s through a third party, you communicate to them that you really care about their health even when they’re not sitting in your office right in front of you.
A third benefit is that your patients can sometimes save themselves some time and money by being able to talk to you or one of your colleagues before heading to the emergency room. Even for people who have health insurance, their emergency room copays are often substantially higher than their office visit copays. Thus, if they talk to you, and you tell them that they can safely wait and just visit your office the next day, then you can be saving them both a significant amount of money and a significant amount of time.