Can you hear me now?

Can you hear me now?

Apr 01, 2007

Q. What is VoIP? Should my practice consider switching our traditional phone system?

Dr. Jeff Rothstein
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a service that allows you to make phone calls over the Internet instead of using traditional phone lines. Veterinary Economics Editorial Advisory Board member Dr. Jeff Rothstein, MBA, president of The Progressive Pet Animal Hospitals and Management Group in Michigan, says that Internet phone usage has become much more common in the past five years as service quality has improved and prices have dropped. "But VoIP has few advantages over most traditional phone services," Dr. Rothstein says.

Primarily it's cheaper, especially for international calls. You can also use the phone anywhere you have Internet access, although that isn't such a big deal now that most people have cell phones, Dr. Rothstein says. VoIP offers all the traditional features, such as call waiting, voice mail, and call forwarding, and they're all included in a flat rate as part of the service.

However, disadvantages presently outweigh the benefits, Dr. Rothstein says. "Quality, in my experience, isn't consistent and the chance of the Internet going down makes it less stable than traditional phone service," he says. Another disadvantage: Faxing isn't convenient.

VoIP continues to improve and will likely play a major role in phone service in the future. But clear and stable phone service is currently more valuable for veterinary practices. The savings just don't merit making the switch—yet, Dr. Rothstein says.