How Long Does It Take to Start Using a Medical Answering Service?

start answering service

How long should it take to start an answering service once you decide you want to move forward? That’s a great question. Some medical answering services claim to be able to do this in just a few minutes, while others take three or four days. Beware of both extremes. Here’s why.

How to Start Service

To start service with MedConnectUSA, we need two things.

The first is your signed service agreement. This is important because it sets the foundation for our working relationship. Attempting to move forward without this will likely lead to disappointment for you, us, or both. Everyone wants to start their new service the right way and prepare for a successful, long-term business relationship. Skipping the service agreement part or deferring it to later will only cause problems.

Second is your account setup instructions. This gives us the details of how you want us to handle your calls. Many answering services don’t request this. Instead they just do what they think is best. Though they may guess right, they’re more likely to guess wrong. When it comes to your business we don’t want to guess or assume. We want to do exactly what you want us to do. That’s why we need to have your setup instructions before we can start answering your phone.

Providing the signed service agreement and your account setup instructions is easy. We’re here to help you with that, to answer questions and provide input to you so that everything is in order as it should be.

Haste Makes Waste

The answering services that claim they can start service in just a few minutes, must skip important steps to make this happen.

For some of these answering services they have a generic, one-size-fits-all mentality when it comes to serving their accounts. You must conform to their standard operating procedures. At worst, deviations from their normal processes don’t work; at best, they cause problems.

For other of these quick-setup answering services, their strategy is a bit different. Though they may turn on and activate your account within minutes—perhaps it’s even turned on in advance—they customize your account to meet your specifications after it goes live. This means their programming it as they take calls. Though this may sometimes work out just fine, usually it causes problems, varying from the humorous to the frustrating.

Good Things Take Time

To properly program an answering service account so you can start service takes time. The more tools a medical answering service provides its staff to enable them to serve you with excellence, the more behind-the-scenes programming they must do. This can’t be rushed.

Once your account is set up, a responsible answering service will test it to make sure it’s working properly. Again, the more involved your account, the more testing it requires.

Last is staff training. You would never want someone answering your phone without knowing a little bit about your practice or how to pronounce your name. But this is normal at some medical answering services, where they have staff wing it with new clients. That’s why it’s a best practice for professional answering services to train their reps about your account before they answer, rather than force them to figure it out as they take your calls.

Though this takes three to four days or even longer at some medical answering services, at MedConnectUSA we’ve streamlined our procedures so we can attend to all these details and do things right in a much shorter timeframe. Normally it takes us twenty-four to forty-eight hours for us to start service once we receive your information.


Beware of answering services that say they can start your service within a couple minutes. They’re cutting corners somewhere, and you pay for it in terms of mishandled calls, misunderstood communications, and possibly miscalculated fees.

While we commend the thoroughness of answering services that take several days to set up an account, they’re not efficient. You don’t want that either.

What you want is a medical answering service that can balance these two extremes and start service in a reasonable amount of time, usually one to two business days. This will establish the foundation for a good, long-term business relationship.

Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your practice, clinic, or facility. Then get a free quote to discover how affordable their healthcare communication services are. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority.