HIPAA, FCC and TCPA Regulations regarding Appointment and Billing Reminders

Appointment Reminders

A healthcare organization is allowed to send appointment reminders, providing medical treatment, health checkups, lab test results, pre-operative instructions, post discharge follow up calls, notifications about prescriptions, home health instructions and hospital pre-registration instructions to patient via phone calls and text messages according to the Federal Communications Commission Declaratory ruling in July 10, 2015 that updates the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

The calls or texts must be sensitive to HIPAA guidelines of limiting the amount of information to only what is minimally needed to convey the message.  Limited to 60 seconds or less, when possible.  Texts should be kept to 160 characters, when possible.  Patients should only receive a maximum of 3 calls a week and a maximum of 1 text per day.

View the official regulation here: TCPA Omnibus Declaratory Ruling and Order 7/10/2015 here.

Source: HIPAA Journal article: FCC Confirms Rules Regarding HIPAA and Patient Telephone Calls

Billing Reminders via Phone or Text

Sending financial-related calls to land lines are also approved by the FCC, HIPAA and TCPA. However, to send a financial or billing related call to a patient cell phone via call or text message requires prior written authorization.  We recommend adding language to the new patient intake form or adding this to the Patient Privacy / Communication Form signed/agreed to for all existing patients at each visit. (see below) 

Suggested Language for Patient Intake Forms

I, ______________________(patient or guardian name), approve receiving phone calls or voice messages or email messages from _______________(practice/provider name) and their billing firm that may be from a human being or auto-dialer, related to appointment reminders, healthcare information and billing matters on my mobile phone: ________________ and / or my land line phone: _______________.
I also    do   /  do not   (circle one) approve the use of text messaging to my mobile phone listed above.  I realize that I can opt-out of texting at any time by replying STOP to any text I receive.
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