TCPA compliance is extremely important. Originally enacted in 1991 to protect people from telemarketers, new regulations have made the rules even more strict. It is becoming increasingly more difficult for a business to contact a client’s home phone or cell phone. It is even difficult for a hospital to do the same to contact their patients! Breaking these regulations can result in some pretty hefty fines. Some may even face multi-million dollar lawsuits. The best way to avoid trouble is to stay on top of the latest TCPA compliance laws.
Do Obtain Express Written Consent
Always, always be sure to obtain express written consent from your patients. When a new patient fills out information forms upon checking in, have a space available on the contact information form for a phone number. By providing a phone number, your patient is giving consent to being contacted at that number. Make this clear. Ask the patient what phone number is best to use in order to reach them with any information you may provide to them. Also, make sure that you only contact them with information regarding the service for which they are being seen.
Do Keep Messages Short
When you contact your patients, be it by phone or by text message, keep messages short and to the point. They should be less than a minute long or, if a text message, shorter than 160 characters. Include the name and contact information of the provider. If you are only confirming an appointment, be sure to include the date and time of the appointment.
Do Make it Easy to Opt In or Out
No matter if it is a telephone call or a text message, make opting in and out of being contacted by the number provided easy for your patients. By providing you with their phone number and acknowledging you are going to use it to contact them in the first place, they are opting in. Give them the choice of being contacted by phone call or by text. If they no longer wish to receive calls or texts, give them an equally easy way to opt out. Provide them with a website that they can go to in order to stop receiving phone calls. Allow them to text a word such as STOP so they no longer receive text messages.
Don’t Provide Sensitive Information
When calling or texting your patients, do not include any sensitive information. This includes, but is not limited to, medical diagnoses (or anything that could potentially violate HIPAA regulations), debts, bills or financials of any kind. If you need to discuss a serious matter with a patient, simply tell them to return your call during your office hours.
Don’t Call Too Often
Too many phone calls or text messages can come across as harassment to patients and can quickly result in a violation of TCPA compliance laws. Only call once during the day (unless your patient misses you and requests that you call them back again), and no more than three times in any given week.
Don’t Assume Continuation of Consent
With the new rules of TCPA compliance, old consent may no longer be valid. Time can also invalidate consent. In order to make sure that you don’t violate compliance regulations, it is best to reaffirm consent with your patients at each visit. Upon checking in, check with your patients to make sure that the number they previously provided is still a good way to contact them. It takes only a few seconds and can save you from a potentially expensive fine.
Staying up-to-date with the newest TCPA compliance regulations and making sure that they are followed are crucial to avoiding problems. Following these laws allows you to stay connected with your patients without them feeling harassed. And comfortable, happy patients are the ones that are going to keep coming back. Confused about how to stay on top of your TCPA compliance? Contact The Midland Group to learn how RCM outsourcing can keep you from making a costly mistake.