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 a Federal Communications Commission Declaratory (FCC) 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 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 Gaining Approval to send Billing Reminders
- Text Billing Reminders – Require written authorization
- Patient Intake Form Language Additions (suggestion)
–CALLS: I approve receiving phone calls or voice 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: ________________ or landline phone ____________________.
–TEXTS: "I consent to receive text message communications to the mobile phone number provided on this form. I understand that I may be charged message and data rates by my wireless carrier. Such messages may be generated by an automated messaging system and I may opt-out of this service by replying STOP to any message."