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Is it Time to be Texting Your Patients?

Sunday, June 26, 2016   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Steven Niethamer
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I resisted at first because I hate robocalls and stupid text messages. Aren’t they illegal?
But I finally gave in to the staff’s request for the option to text. Initially I thought that we could use an old cell phone. But we would have to add another line and then toss the phone around to the different office staff users. There are also many high powered and expensive companies trying to get our business of communicating with patients. I also hate many of these big companies. Shouldn’t they be illegal?

Then I received an email from a company called ZipWhip.com. I usually just delete these requests but was interested when I read that they can text enable an existing landline. I admit that I didn’t know that this could be done. And I still didn’t know whether it was legal – more on this later.

I was intrigued by this email containing a simple texting  application. How many times do office staff call a phone  number, try to leave a message about tomorrow’s appointment and find that the mail box is full? Some of my staff admitted to using their own cell phone to text certain mothers and report great results. Have you noticed that parents sit through their children’s appointments texting without looking up from their cell phones? Moms are sending me photos of broken teeth after hours to my cell phone. Might our communicating with practice families by text messages be a better way?

But is it legal? I read more about how the FCC protects consumers through this Telephone Consumer Protection Act (”TCPA”) which keeps consumers from unwanted calls or text messages. It says that, as long as the customer initiates the text message exchange and the company only responds with relevant information, then no verbal or written permission is required. This is simple back and forth Conversational Messaging.

A step up from this Conversational Messaging is Informational Messaging. My office’s supplemental registration form asks about the parents’ preferred method of communication and includes a cell phone option. Sending out an informational text message like, “Can you bring in Tommy tomorrow at 3:00 to see Dr. Steve,” seems to be covered when a parent gives us a cell number and agrees to receive text messages verbally or in a questionnaire. Sending Promotional Messaging, which is another step up in invading their cell phone space, certainly needs the parent’s agreeing in writing to
receive them.

My staff is very happy now that we can text message certain parents their appointment information. It seems like texting is an acceptable method of communicating. And I also like being able to text from our office’s primary telephone number. If your office is not texting, it might be time to start.

I’m sure that many of our members know much more than I about this texting thing. I’ll place this article in our website’s Latest News where you will be able to add your own comments. Let’s all learn from each other! While you are at it, make sure you look at all the great photos taken at the Napa meeting, some of which are previewed in this Bulletin. As always, if you want the original photo, please send a request with the photo number to the website editor.

Comments...

Steven J. Niethamer DMD says...
Posted Wednesday, June 29, 2016
I'd like to comment on this article just to show that we can comment on this article. SJN

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