10.9.15 Issue #709 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
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Dentists and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

A July 10, 2015 order from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has caused a blip on the radar screen of those who make outbound collection calls to patients from dental practices. No one likes the annoying robocalls or the telemarketers and the hang-up calls. People don’t want to get collection calls or texts on their cell phones, so the law has been interpreted to ensure dental practices are in compliance.

This law applies to all healthcare businesses and now requires a consent form to be signed prior to calling or texting a patient’s cell phone. According to a California Dental Association article from 8-25-2015, the healthcare exemption applies only if the communication:

• Is sent only to the cellphone number provided by the patient to the healthcare provider;
• States the name and contact information of the health care provider (information must be at the beginning of a voice call);
• Does not include telemarketing, solicitation, advertising, billing or financial content (including insurance information requests);
• Complies with the HIPAA Privacy Rule; and
• Is short (one minute or less for voice calls and 160 characters or less for text messages).

A healthcare provider must:
• Limit communication to one per day and three per week for each individual;
• Provide individuals with a simple method to opt out of receiving communications; and
• Immediately honor the opt-out requests.

What you should do to take action now is to:
• Review procedures to determine if the practice uses patient cellphone numbers for communications related to dental benefits, financial arrangements or marketing/solicitation. Review patient forms to determine if required consents, obtained after Oct. 16, 2013 (effective date of original rule), are included. Update forms as needed.

• Ensure that the practice's HIPAA business associates who communicate on behalf of the practice are in compliance with TCPA rules. This would include dental billing services or marketing and recall services you are using to contact patients.

• If patients list their cell phone number as a work or home phone number, they must sign a release such as the following obtained from the California Dental Association:

*❑ I consent to the dental practice using my cell phone number to (choose one or both) ❑ call ❑ text regarding appointments and to call regarding treatment, insurance, and my account.  I understand that I can withdraw my consent at any time. My cell phone number is _____ (include area code) _____ (initial)

Another important note from the FCC in regards to telephone solicitation:

“A telephone solicitation is a telephone call that acts as an advertisement. However, some phone solicitations are permissible under FCC rules, including: calls or messages placed with your express prior permission, by or on behalf of a tax-exempt non-profit organization, or from a person or organization. However, having an established business relationship no longer meets the rules for permissible unsolicited calls to your landline phone. Companies and telemarketers must have your express permission to call.” 

In a dental practice, making outbound calls to schedule recall appointments or unscheduled treatment without the permission of the patient may be considered telemarketing. The above consent would cover these calls also.

In this ever-changing world it can be difficult for busy dental practices to keep up. It is important to embrace the changes and be prepared for the unexpected. The best insurance is to have excellent dental business systems in place that are monitored for trends in practice change. McKenzie Management offers the business training and consulting services to keep you aware and on top of what is good for your business and how to make it grow and prosper. Call today and speak to one of our professional staff for questions regarding your practice performance.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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