Q&A: Phone number ownership

June 4, 2010

How to handle phone number when moving locations.

Q: I am an internist with two offices. The main office is downtown, and the satellite office is in a small town. A hospital near the small town is hiring doctors and made me an offer to purchase my equipment and to take over the lease at the satellite office. The hospital insists that I transfer my phone and fax number to them. I may open another satellite office near the small town. My office manager and I believe that we are entitled to keep our phone and fax number to direct our patients to either the downtown office or the new satellite office. Who's right?

A: A phone number is valuable but not the holy grail. Any patient asking for you will be disappointed and probably will face a new-patient charge because they do not have the records. There is probably no prohibition from advertising your new office in the newspaper when you open the new office. I assume you will retain the patient medical records, so you can send patients a letter announcing your new office and phone number.