Ditch Your Medical Answering Service

Is your practice still paying top dollar for an inefficient and old-fashioned answering service?

When I set out to research how much medical answering services typically cost, I was a bit shocked by what I found. The cheapest price I came across for a service that could at least spell “HIPAA” correctly was $65 per month, and some sources indicated that a typical monthly bill could be $400 or more.

This surprised me because the core functionality of a medical answering service is pretty simple: take a verbal message from whoever is calling and relay it to a covering doctor in some text format. I’m an emergency medicine physician, so I’m always calling other doctors’ offices outside of business hours and getting their answering services. I’ve interacted with thousands of them by this point, covering surgical clinics, primary care groups, psychiatry practices, and all manner of other specialties. You name it, I’ve called it, and the answering services are all about the same from the caller side.

So why does it cost you so much for me or, more importantly, your patients to get you a simple text message? And why do you need a third party to relay calls in an era when technology is able to connect us so efficiently? This is 2017, and if you haven’t already, you should ditch your medical answering service and embrace a modern after-hours workflow that lets you:

  • Provide a superior patient experience
  • Save money
  • Be efficient
  • Stay secure
  • Eliminate disjointed patient handoffs

And how can you do this? With Spruce!

Spruce can easily and painlessly replace your medical answering service with a far superior experience for you and your patients. And yes, we can save you money. I’m biased, but I promise it makes sense, so hear me out.

We built Spruce with powerful, flexible telephony and messaging features so that healthcare organizations could run their entire operations on the platform, coordinating teams and modernizing both in-person and telemedicine care. We weren’t designing it to be used as a simple answering service, but it turns out to fit that bill perfectly. It’s kind of like how memory foam was invented by NASA for aircraft safety but I mostly use it to make my mattress more comfortable.

Advantages of Using Spruce as Your Answering Service

Spruce can be a simple drop-in replacement for your existing answering service, and its powerful feature set means that it has many benefits over a traditional answering service.

Shared inbox = no more confusing handoffs

On Spruce, all after-hours communication is routed into a shared inbox that your whole team can access. Incoming messages (voicemails, texts, secure messages; everything) are stored securely and permanently. This means that you can log in Monday morning and see everything that your covering colleague dealt with over the weekend on all of your patients. Your on-call provider can even mark tasks for your attention so there won’t be any question of how to coordinate follow-up. Everything is automatically unified in one place.

Time savings

Spruce allows patients to distinguish between calls that need attention immediately versus those that can wait for the next business day. Instead of attending to every single call, you can save non-urgent matters for your staff and minimize disruptions to your personal life. Furthermore, HIPAA-compliant transcribed voicemails on Spruce give you quick, at-a-glance context on patient issues and what triage may be needed.

Cost savings

Using Spruce as your answering service eliminates your need for an answering service! There also won’t be any extra charges for nights, weekends, or holidays, times that cost more with many pure answering services. Additionally, by having all of your telephony services within one solution, you will reduce redundant costs.

VIP patient experience

Patients only need one number for your practice. They don’t have to worry about having your pager or after-hours numbers. Simpler practice equals happier patients.

HIPAA compliance

We’ve engineered Spruce to be a simple part of any HIPAA-compliant workflow. We’ll sign a business associate agreement (BAA) with you, and we have a deep understanding of the privacy and security needs of medical professionals. We’re a medical company first and foremost, and we have been one for years, so crucial topics like industry regulation are not just an afterthought for us.

Multiple communication channels all in one platform

We’ve spent this whole article talking about patient calls, since those are all that a typical answering service will handle. However, Spruce supports nearly any type of communication channel, including SMS texts, secure messages, phone calls, email, and video telemedicine. With Spruce, you can tell your patients to simply text their concerns to you, when appropriate, leveraging the numerous efficiencies of avoiding phone calls. Or your covering providers can resolve small problems via telemedicine, saving unpleasant and expensive ER trips.


Spruce can work fantastically as a medical answering service, and I think you might even like it better than what you’re currently using. Expensive, single-purpose answering services were necessary in the past, but smartphones and powerful, cloud-based telephony (like we have in Spruce!) are changing the game.

Get in touch with us for a demo, and we can show you exactly how you can ditch your old answering service and be happier for it.

Want to improve your medical answering service and save money?

Learn more about how practices are using Spruce as an answering service to get rid of unnecessary expenses and to deliver better care that patients love.

Get in touch with us!

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