General Question

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

What is the purpose of an "answering service" for a doctor's office?

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (26784points) May 9th, 2011

I called my doctor’s office this morning, with the intention of rescheduling an appointment. I had intended to leave a message, assuming I would get a machine.
Instead, a woman answered, which surprised me. I said “Hi, uh,” since I was caught offguard. Before I could get past “uh,” she blurted “they’ll be open at 9” and hung up.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pissed. She essentially hung up on me before I even had a chance to speak. Even if the answering service is for emergencies only, she didn’t even give me a chance to say anything. What is the point of an answering service? Would I be out of line to complain? I am really mad about this.

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29 Answers

JilltheTooth's avatar

Are you sure that she was the answering service? I once had a similar experience and it was one of the cleaning crew who had answered. She wasn’t supposed to but got distracted and just picked up a ringing phone.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Hey feisty. Maybe give the Dr’s office a heads up that the answering service isn’t doing the job they were supposed to be doing.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@JilltheTooth yes, I’m sure. She answered by saying “Dr so&so’s answering service.”
@Adirondackwannabe I intend to. I don’t usually get fired up by little stuff and I like to avoid complaining about service at all costs, but apparently I don’t cope well with rudeness at 7:30am. I’m mad.

JilltheTooth's avatar

In that case, yeah, definitely express your concerns. (Read: “smack somebody!”)

JLeslie's avatar

The purpose is to page the doctor if you need to speak to one.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf Just remember, your anger is coming from within. You are letting them get to you. Yeah, it’s crappy service, but you decide if you let them get under your skin or not.

augustlan's avatar

The purpose is as @JLeslie said. But how on earth would the service know whether or not you had an emergency if they hung up on you? I’d definitely mention it, but in a “Hey, I thought you’d want to know this happened” kind of way, rather than a “WTF is wrong with your service?!?” kind of way. ;)

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@augustlan ha, I’m not one for confrontation, so I didn’t really intend to call them with an attitude. I do feel like they should know, though. I did not have an emergency, but as you said… she wouldn’t have known if I did. She didn’t even give me a chance to speak.

JLeslie's avatar

@augustlan I’m guessing the OP said she needed to change an appointment. I wish the answering service could send us into office vmail. I find it annoying I have to wait for office hours to leave a message.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@JLeslie yes, I needed to change an appointment. I called expecting to get a machine or voicemail, actually. It certainly wasn’t an emergency, and calling back isn’t a problem. I was just irritated that she hung up on me.

augustlan's avatar

@JLeslie They hung up on her before she got that far, so we know she needed to change her appointment, but the service didn’t.

gorillapaws's avatar

It’s supposed to act like a filter to reduce abuses by patients (there are some people who would call their MD in the middle of church to bullshit about something minor for an hour every weekend if they could get away with it). Doctors already have a hard enough time striking a healthy work/life balance as it is. It is also a mechanism for sharing call duty with other physicians so the MD can mentally unwind and have a cocktail, or travel beyond the 30-minute-radius from their hospital.

In your partIcular situation, it seems like the service wasn’t doing what they were being paid (probably a lot of money) to do. I’m sure your doctor would appreciate the heads-up that her answering service isn’t doing the job it’s being paid to do.

JLeslie's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf Is it true the answering service did not know you called to change the appointment? No matter what they should not be rude or hang up. She should explain to you they are only able to page the doctor, if that is the case.

9doomedtodie's avatar

Maybe, She was not in that mood to give you the answer you expected. Generally, the staff working in clinics,hospitals, banks most likely respond like this. I am experienced of these things. :(

JLeslie's avatar

@9doomedtodie She works at the answerng service.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@JLeslie yes, I literally only got out “hi, uh.” There is no way she could have known what I was calling about.

gailcalled's avatar

Call back and say, “Please don’t hang up.” Keep your tone pleasant. No, “Hi,uh.”

Blueroses's avatar

The point of paying a service to take calls is to give patients a live voice with the authority to page your doctor or refer you to an on-call if necessary and to take/log non-emergency messages for the office. A machine could give you the office hours and hang up. That’s not the service the doctor is paying for and the office manager needs to know about that.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Dude, that’s a really bad answering service. Totally defeating the point. Tell someone.

sinscriven's avatar

I think the doc’s office would be more than interested in hearing that their patients/customers are being mistreated by someone who is more useless than a voicemail box.

Imagine how bad it’d be if someone actually did have an emergency and was in a state of shock and got that witch on the line. They definitely should know.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@sinscriven I really thought the same. Again, I did not have an emergency situation, but if I did have an emergency and I was hung up on I would have been much more upset than I was this morning. I would have probably considered changing doctors over it, to be completely honest.

Rarebear's avatar

It’s for when the doctors are on call. The answering service triages the call and then calls the doctor on call. They usually can’t change appointments—that can only be done during business hours. They should be polite though.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf I really wanted to say this yesterday but I figured you’d hurt me. Technically they did their job. They answered. You didn’t get a message service.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Why are you slapping me? She asked the question.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Just on principle, Darlin’, just on principle. ;-)

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