Several months ago I was at an ophthalmology meeting in another state and needed to call a patient using my personal cell phone. While I occasionally give patients my cell number, I prefer to make phone calls from the office, but this isn’t always possible, as was the case in this situation.
Suddenly, I found myself in a dilemma as I considered how best to reach my patient using my cell phone (complicated, right? you may be thinking, ‘hey bozo, just call them – it’s not rocket science’). Here are a few of my thoughts at the time, which I know are echoed by other physician colleagues who have found themselves in this similar circumstance.
- If I call from my cell phone, chances are my patient won’t recognize my area code since I’m not from “here,” and if they don’t recognize the phone number nor the area code, chances of them answering the call are slim to none. I don’t want to leave a voicemail with sensitive health-related information, so I would like to avoid being screened as an unrecognized number and being forced to leave a voicemail.
- If I do use my cell phone, my patient will then have my cell number. While I have yet to have any patient abuse this form of communication, I typically prefer to give patients my office number and keep my number for just close friends, family, and colleagues.
“Oh, I know,” I then thought to myself, “What was that number I used to dial in middle school to prank call my then-current romantic crush? I think it was star-something…*67, yes, that’s it!” The magical prefix to telephone anonymity – a favorite among mid 90’s infatuated teens.
I dialed *67, and then the patient’s number, but again faced the same problem as mentioned above, where the *67 trick had now made it so I was calling from an “unknown number” versus at least being an unrecognized area code were I to just call directly. Only after I had left a voicemail telling my patient it was me calling and that I would call them back in a few minutes was I able to finally talk with my patient and answer their question. The thought process involved and time spent leading up to actually speaking with my patient was an inconvenience for me as a physician and represented suboptimal communication between me and my patient. I again thought to myself, “Why am I using the same *67 technology that existed when I was in middle school (some 20+ years ago)? There HAS to be a better way – if if there isn’t someone needs to come up with one.”
Fortunately, Doximity recently released the “Doximity Dialer,” which, I believe is the perfect solution to my problem and fills an important need in physician-patient telephone communication. This app, available now on iOS and Android, enables verified Doximity physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners to make phone calls from their smartphone, but to manually enter the desired number that will be listed on the recipient’s caller ID. This exciting technology from Doximity helps providers avoid the need to give out their personal cell number but allows them to make patient-related phone calls from “the office” even if they are away from the office.
This week I used the Doximity Dialer to call all of my post-op cataract surgery patients from the week prior, and the app worked flawlessly. Nine out of ten of my phone calls were answered, which is much better than before using the *67 method. While I perhaps unnecessarily worry about the privacy of the phone call, inasmuch as the app seems to place the call by dialing the Doximity servers in California, using the Doximity Dialer was fairly straightforward and easy to use.
Though I don’t know exactly the ins-and-outs of how the app integrates with the smartphone to place the call, here’s a basic step by step overview of the process involved in using the Doximity Dialer.
Have you used the Doximity Dialer? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!