Setting Up The Best Phone System For Medical Practices & Why It Matters

The phone system a medical provider chooses will be the first impression of the office to patients and anyone else who calls. The phone system represents the level of your medical office’s operational sophistication and the value of its services.

We all dread having to listen to a ton of options before pressing 7, just to be on hold and then finally ending up talking to an answering machine.

The good news is, your phone system doesn’t have to drive your patients and referring providers nuts. These simple tips can mean the difference between people sticking with your office and ending up calling another physician instead.

If you’re closed or going to be closed

Have your phone system say so BEFORE giving menu options. This goes for holidays and inclement weather as well as after hours or lunch hours.

  • Test out your system once a month or so to make sure it’s still accurate.
  • If a doctor is no longer at your office don’t drop them from your call system right away. Instead, let people calling his or her extension know where they can be reached.
  • Don’t have more options than you need. Is your billing person sitting right next to your records person? Consider combining or removing options when possible.

Hold Music

  • Choose tunes carefully: Make sure your hold music reflects your practice and isn’t too cheesy.
  • Make sure that the volume is reasonable by testing on multiple phones.
  • Make sure your music isn’t too repetitive, a 20-second loop gets old fast.
  • Consider alternatives to hold music such as seasonal announcements or health tips.


  • Don’t make them wait. No need to let the phone ring 23 times before going to voicemail, let them leave a message after about 4 rings.
  • When to go straight to voicemail. If the person being contacted is not available for the day, or out to lunch, send those calls straight to voicemail.
  • Let them know when to expect a call back. This helps let people know their call will be returned and that getting back to them quickly is a priority in your office.
  • Try to answer the call to avoid voicemails. This one’s a no-brainer, but worth mentioning. It keeps your patients and physicians happy and it also saves your team time on follow up calls.

Give callers another option

  • Website: Can people schedule their appointment or pay their bill online? How about view their records? Let people know what they can do online to cut down on phone frustration and the number of incoming calls for your team.
  • Other options: Can people get in touch with your office via email? How about fax? Let them know all of their communication choices so they can pick what works best for them.

Ask for feedback

The best way to find out how to improve is to ask. Offer an optional satisfaction survey at the end of the call to help your team gather data on what you can do better.

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