To Invest in a VOIP System at Our Practice or Not

July 10, 2017

This doctor is looking to make a switch on her telephone system at her practice. Weighing the pros and cons, she isn't sure how to proceed.

Before I opened my own office, I had to create a business plan.  It included a budget, which tracked regular monthly expenses.  Having been employed, I had to do some research to find out how much things cost.  I had originally budgeted for two telephone lines and an answering service.  When I actually opened, as a cost-saving measure, I chose not to have an answering service and instead have calls forwarded to my cell phone after hours.

What happened was quite different. I don't have two telephone line, but rather six. Three actual dedicated telephone lines, one for the fax modem attached to our EHR, and one for our "old-fashioned" fax and credit card line (yes, they share a line, which can be tricky at times) and one for the security system. 

I am now contemplating switching to voice over IP (VOIP).  I am hoping that this will help us to better triage calls.  Patients who do not need to speak to anyone urgently can press the appropriate button and leave a message. Calls will "find" the physician on call after hours.  I am hoping it will also limit the amount of time my staff spend on the phone taking messages about prescriptions and glucose readings. Importantly, there should never be a busy signal and this would prevent that.

There are drawbacks. There is an initial large outlay of cash.  I would need to purchase the phones.  And then there is set-up.  I don't mind spending a little extra if it will improve our work flow but I need to figure out how much extra there will be each month.  Yes, I can get rid of some of our current phone lines.  However, I'll likely still need to keep one for the security system and one for the credit card machine. So the total monthly fees will depend on what package I can get out of the phone company. 

Right now, I am actually paying them as well as a cable company for internet, because our internet through the phone company was slow, but canceling it and keeping phone only was going to cost me more than keeping it! So I don't know how much less it will cost to go from six lines to two.

In other words, I need to figure out, whether we will save enough time and energy to make it worth it to switch, and whether it makes sense financially.

If you have any thoughts, I'd love to hear them. Feel free to share below!