HIPAA AND THE TCPA
Did you know that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and HIPAA go hand in hand?The FCC clarified some of the implementing regulations of TCPA including the HIPAA exemption in July 2015. Providers can rely on the voluntary provision of a cell phone number as express consent for specific types of calls and texts as defined by HIPAA, including: appointment reminders, wellness check-ups, procedure instructions pre- and post-care, and prescription notifications. However, calls related to billing, financial or debt collection content are not a part of this exemption and prior express written consent is required.
Check with your messaging vendor to ensure you are in compliance and review your current forms to ensure you are capturing express consent for billing and financial calls.
See the article below from a debt collection professional regarding ways you can aid in increasing efficiency of bad debt collections by updating your consent language.
EFFICIENCY IN COLLETING PATIENT LIABILITIES
By: John Cook, Chief Client Officer, PRC, Inc.
Healthcare providers are continually looking for ways to improve collection of aging or past due balances from their patient. A relatively easy way to improve efficiency is use of a prior express consent notice so collectors are allowed to place autodialed calls and prerecorded messages to the patient’s wireless phone.
The Telephone Consumer Act (TCPA) does not permit anyone to place an autodialed call to a wireless number unless it is for an emergency or the caller actually has consent of the patient to use their wireless number. Consent at admission will provide not only the provider, but any agency acting on their behalf to place calls on an automated dialer. If there is no consent, the call must be made manually. Placing calls manually certainly slows the process. Autodialed calls will greatly improve recoveries.
A sample notice, such as this, may be used:
You agree, in order for us to service our account or to collect any amounts you may owe, we may contact you by telephone or any telephone number associated with your account, including wireless telephone numbers, which could result in charges to you. We may also contact you by sending text messages or e-mails, using any e-mail address you provide to us. Methods of contact may include using pre-recorded/artificial voice messages and/or use of an automatic dialing device, as applicable.
I/We have read this disclosure and agree that the Creditor may contact me/us as described above.
It is always a good idea for the healthcare provider to have this reviewed by their attorney to make sure such notice complies with federal and state laws.