If you've been considering a physician answering service, then it helps to understand how it works in the first place. It used to be that when a patient called your office after hours, there were two options. In the first place, you could simply forward all of these calls to your voice mail. That used to be sufficient, but more and more, patients are demanding access to their health care providers twenty-four hours a day. Another option, of course, and some doctors have tried this, is simply to offer your patients some way to contact you directly after hours. For most doctors, a middle-of-the-road compromise would be ideal.
That's exactly what this type of service is. If you're using one of these services, then when one of your patients calls your office after hours, they get to talk to a real live human being. That human being then responds to the call according to your instructions. It could be that they simply provide the caller with information you've given them access to, such as your hours and location. In the event the patient needs an immediate call back, like a medical query, for example, they could then contact you via some previously agreed upon method. This means that you get only the calls that require medical attention, as opposed to simple administrative calls.
Some physicians even elect to participate in a group of doctors that takes turns handling each others' after hours calls. So, in that case, it may be some other doctor actually calling back your patients. This option affords you even more time to yourself or with your family during your off hours, while providing the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your patients are being taken good care of. An increasing number of doctors are using similar approaches, and they seem to be working out very well.