Monday, January 03, 2011

5 Ways Google Voice Improves My Efficiency When I'm On Call

Author: Ellen Kim, MD

I'm a family physician in private practice and I answer my own calls when I'm on call. Recently, I started using Google Voice on my Android smartphone. I use an HTC Incredible and the Google Voice app has helped save a tremendous amount of time.

Here are 5 ways Google Voice has improved my efficiency when I'm on call:

1. Transcriptions of each voice mail. When I use this feature, I can view the patient's name, phone number, and pertinent medical information. I delete each message after I receive it so that I'm not storing personal health information on my phone. Here's how Google describes this feature: Google Voice can automatically transcribe your new voicemail messages and send you the transcript to the email address and the SMS number you added in the 'Notifications' section above.

2. I can also read the transcribed voice mail message and filter through voice messages without excusing myself to listen to each message. This allows me to promptly reply to patients when I know that a patient has left me a message. The other day, my husband and I were watching a movie. I received a phone call from an unknown number and after the person left a message, I could glance at the transcribed voice mail to determine if the call was from a patient.

3. Call filtering. I have the option to filter calls by having callers leave their names. Google calls this feature "Call Screening." Here's how they describe it: Announces caller and lets you listen as caller leaves a message. Ask unknown callers to say their name.  Enable this option to know who's calling and to handle incoming calls in different ways, like sending calls to voicemail, recording calls, or to ListenIn.

4. Personalized greetings for different groups of people. When my friends or family call, they can hear a personalized greeting that is different from my official "doctor" greeting that is reserved for patients. Here's what Google has to say: You can customize how different groups are treated. Have a special greeting for your "Family" or have your "Co-workers" ring separate phones. It's all up to you.

5. Low international calling rates. I don't get too many calls from patients internationally, but when it happens, it's great to have the ability to call Canada for free or to call other countries for pennies.

Overall, Google Voice has allowed me to work more efficiently when I'm on call. Thanks Google!

About the author:

Dr. Ellen Kim is a practicing family physician at Wrightstown Family Medicine. She received her bachelor's degree at MIT, graduated from Drexel University College of Medicine, and completed her family medicine residency at the University of Pennsylvania where she also served as chief resident. She is board certified in family medicine and enjoys blogging on her Mac in her spare time.


  1. Another Google Voice feature is the ability to listen to the caller's message as it is being recorded. This helps me determine how to best respond - call, text, or email and urgency of the response.

  2. An excellent point Greg!