How your Mac can help if you’re “On Call” for your Medical or Dental Practice

In my practice, I am expected to be accessible to my patients at all times—day or night—in case of an emergency. In order to remain accessible, there are a number of different solutions that can be implemented and used during office-hour breaks and for after-hour communications. These options range from direct access to you via your personal phone number to indirect access to you via live answering services that can act as intermediaries between you and your patients or clients to filter out non-emergent calls. For many offices, neither choice is optimal. Thankfully, there are other alternatives that are available to you through your Mac and iPhone that can give your office a polished and professional feel, give you a sense of security, allow you to tackle emergency calls with confidence and save you money.

Forwarding all calls from your business number to your personal phone number or giving out your personal phone number to your patients or clients may not be as secure or convenient for you.

In addition, certain calls should be routed to your employees, while others such as nonessential after-hour communications, can wait to be returned on the next business day.

A live answering service may be excessive if there are not enough calls for them to answer to justify their cost.

You are also relying on a third party to make the sometimes difficult call (no pun intended) of delineating the truly emergent calls requiring your immediate attention from non-emergent messages.

More control by the doctor or business owner with regard to these scenarios is necessary.

So what is a better approach? PhoneValet Message Center!

PhoneValet Message Center from Parliant is an excellent solution for your office practice or small business that works with your existing phone lines. It can perform many advanced tasks that are usually only available on expensive telephone controllers.

Highlights of some of these tasks include:


  • Able to present menu of choices arranged in a call tree, which is especially helpful if a patient or client is calling to get information such as office location, hours or website
  • Unlimited voice mailboxes accessed with touch tones
  • Support for multiple lines with simultaneous answering and recording
  • Overrides let you change call trees at different times of the day or on different lines (for lunch breaks or after hour emergency calls)
  • Main greeting and customizable greetings for each mailbox that can be created through a recordable microphone or by using Apple speech technology built into Mac OS X
  • Functions even if no user is logged in
  • Check messages by calling in (protected by personal codes)
  • Messages can be emailed using standard email attachments which can be played back on your computer or iPhone/ iPod Touch
  • SMS Text or email voicemail notification
  • For an additional small fee, you can purchase the PhoneValet Anywhere add-on, which allows you to use the Safari browser on your iPhone or iPod Touch to access your voicemail in a compact and efficient interface

Transfer Calls to External Numbers

  • This is an amazing feature that lets a call from voicemail be transferred to an external line, like your cell phone, if a client, patient or hospital ER absolutely needs to contact you immediately
  • Call Transfer is a calling feature that should be ordered from your local telephone provider if you do not already have it, to enable this crucial “On-Call-Contact-Me-Immediately” feature

Call Recording

  • Records both sides of the conversation to compressed audio files onto your hard disk
  • Recordings can be started automatically or manually, for all calls or only those from specific phone numbers
  • Audio notices can be played to alert all parties that the calls are to be recorded
  • Multiple recordings off multiple lines can be accomplished simultaneously

Talking Caller ID

  • Notification of incoming calls are displayed on screen and can also be announced using Apple’s speech system
  • Customizable display size and time-of-day for speech announcements

Answer call based on who is calling

  • Custom ringtones
  • Set number of rings for voicemail to activate—can be set to immediate activation and forwarded immediately to a designated voice mailbox
  • Customized greetings
  • Call blocking, which will play a greeting and then terminate the call

Detailed Call Log

  • Stores the date and time, number, name and duration of the call
  • Logs calls dialed from any telephone
  • Call a number back by double-clicking on it in the call log
  • Call log data is captured no matter what user is logged in

PhoneValet Phonebook and AddressBook

  • PhoneValet seamlessly integrates with the Mac OS X AddressBook data to look up callers for call logging and announcements, voice dialing and customizable dialing rules

Fax Support

  • Faxes are detected by PhoneValet’s voicemail feature
  • The fax is directed to Mac OS X built in fax software or to PageSender, which is a full-featured and powerful fax software that works well with PhoneValet
  • If a fax shares the line with voice calls, PhoneValet can detect incoming faxes and suspend voicemail to allow the fax to be received

A great video demonstration of PhoneValet Message Center can be found here.

This system is powerful enough to receive phone calls and route voicemail to its appropriate voice mailboxes at times when neither you nor your staff is available to do so. This ensures that clients or patients with specific issues such as billing, for example, have their voicemail go directly to the financial coordinators mailbox via email. 

Or that a new patient who wishes to schedule a consult with the doctor has his voicemail routed to the receptionist’s email which would then allow her to promptly call the patient back to schedule the appointment. 

Or what if a referring office needed to send a patient immediately to your office? The referring office might not have time to leave a voicemail and wait for a return call. In the voicemail tree presented to the caller, an option for immediate assistance through the back office line or a call transfer to the office manager’s cell phone can put your employees in contact with that referring office to get their patient in right away and reinforce a professional, prompt and caring image of you and your employees.

After-hours greetings can be switched over manually or automatically according to specific times. The above scenarios and many more can be handled by PhoneValet to provide additional information concerning your office hours, location and website information.

In addition it can allow the caller to choose the appropriate department to leave their voicemail regarding general, financial or scheduling issues they may have inquiries about. These messages will be emailed to their respective mailboxes to be listened to and answered by the appropriate employees creating an efficient communication system within your office.

In case that patient or hospital ER requires your immediate attention, a call transfer to your cell phone or home phone can be arranged so you can be accessible for emergencies 24/7. 

To use the PhoneValet Message Center, each phone line requires its own USB telephone adapter that is made by Parliant and ships with the software. It costs $169.95 per line and an additional $49.95 for the PhoneValet Anywhere add-on for optimal iPhone access.

The product comes with a 30-day money back guarantee if you are not satisfied. PhoneValet’s support is outstanding, generally responding to your inquiries promptly.

For home users looking for a great voicemail solution, try PhoneValet Home Edition for $49.95. A comparison between Home edition and Message Center can be found here.

PhoneValet Message Center is flexible enough to be used in many situations for your business needs. It can save you money by eliminating recurring service fees from your local telephone provider and answering services. In addition, it can improve efficiency among your employees.

Take control of your business communications with PhoneValet.

On a side note, it may be worth researching a service called GrandCentral from Google whereby you choose a local phone number that when dialed can call multiple phone numbers of your choosing, simultaneously.

This way you can be reached virtually anywhere through your cell phone, your parents’ home phone, your friend’s cell phone or your brother’s office phone if you should designate these phones to ring when someone calls your GrandCentral number.

With this service (currently in Beta and free!) when PhoneValet transfers your call to your GrandCentral number it will route the emergency call to multiple phones in different locations that you have designated to reach you. If a voicemail is left on your GrandCentral service and you have an iPhone, you may want to get a free Web App called iVoicemail to retrieve the message as there is a software bug in GrandCentral that Google is aware of that doesn’t allow iPhone users to access their voicemail through GrandCentral’s website.

**PhoneValet is not in anyway connected to Google’s GrandCentral service and remember that GrandCentral is still currently in Beta, so proceed with care and caution.

There is also a free iPhone App called GrandDialer that will display your GrandCentral number on the receivers caller ID. It can be found on the iTunes App Store by clicking here.

What service(s) do you use for optimizing your office communications? If you use PhoneValet, what are your thoughts or impressions of the application?

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