A recent change to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) has practices wondering whether they can make automated appointment reminder phone calls, or automated collection calls. Both have become common practice in recent years.
The TCPA, at 7 U.S.C. §227, states:
(b) Restrictions on use of automated telephone equipment
(1) It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States, or any person outside the United States if the recipient is within the United States–
(A) to make any call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with the prior express consent of the called party) using any automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice–
(i) to any emergency telephone line;
(ii) to the telephone line of any guest room or patient room of a hospital, health care facility, elderly home, or similar establishment; or
(iii) to any telephone number assigned to a paging service, cellular telephone service, specialized mobile radio service, or other radio common carrier service, or any service for which the called party is charged for the call.
In essence, this means that you may not make automated calls to a cell phone without “prior express consent” from the customer (patient). There is some debate as to what constitutes “prior express consent.”
For more information on establishing prior consent, and complying with TCPA requirements, refer to the article in the October 2015 issue of the American Practice Advisor.