Texting? When Do You Need Specific Patient Consent?

Text messaging, also known as SMS, is blowing up, and with good reason. Even top medical call center services utilize texting. Uber-effective, 98% of text recipients read messages – 90% within 3 minutes. Offering simple and effective communication, healthcare providers are scrambling to take advantage of its high contact and rapid response rate. But not so fast – using text incorrectly could land you in some seriously hot water. Avoiding liability: The devil’s in the details. There are typically two types of text messages from healthcare practices: marketing, and transactional. Transactional messages facilitate, confirm, or complete a previously agreed upon transaction – specifically appointment or checkup reminders – and as such are not bound by consent. Transactional messages do NOT include reminders to schedule upcoming appointments, nor do they cover marketing messages informing patients of new services or health tips – all of which require patient consent by law. What...
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Teach Your Office Staff Better Phone Etiquette

Are your doctor answering services positively or negatively Affecting your business? The best call centers know phone etiquette and customer service are essential to patient retention. Phone tips from the pros who know point to these 7 etiquette essentials: 1. Make it quick. Long wait times can make potential patients wonder if your office is understaffed. Excessive ringing can also irritate patients and staff, creating a negative atmosphere. 2. Don’t assume. Always ask permission before putting calls on hold – it’s more polite. 3. Say it with a smile. Smiling during every call creates a friendly, energetic air that is contagious. 4. Slow down and pay attention. We know you’re busy, but rushed calls can create confusion. Be sure to use moderate speed to convey words and instructions in a clear, understandable way. Moderate your volume as well, raising your tone to indicate key points or clarifications. Be mindful of...
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HIPAA Raises the Bar on Text Messages — What You Need to Know

Recent changes to HIPAA raise questions as to the compliancy of text messaging. Rest assured texting remains compliant, however the devil is in the details when it comes to the use of this messaging medium by your office or medical answering services. Why the changes? Recent HIPAA revisions acknowledge the commonality of texting in today’s mobile world, but identify the possibility of data compromise as vast (Wi-Fi/open cell networks, mobile device loss/theft), thus requiring: The development of processes and procedures indicating who has access to private health information (PHI) and how it is used. Risk assessments be periodically conducted to identify potential threats to PHI data integrity. Established procedures on how breaches will be addressed, including cyber-threats, lost/theft, and proper device disposal procedures, such as the remote deletion of PHI. (Timely remotely deletion exempts the need to report breaches to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR).) Encryption and physical data...
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