This past July, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released a ruling (the “Ruling”) interpreting the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TPCA”) restrictions on certain communications to wireless telephone numbers. The Ruling significantly restricts business’ ability to use auto-dialers and artificial / prerecorded voices for contacting wireless telephone numbers, including via text message (“automated contact system ”), prior to obtaining customer consent. Fortunately for the many health care providers who rely on this type of technology for important patient correspondence such as appointment reminders, the FCC has provided a significant exception for providers’ automated contact systems that meet certain criteria set forth in the Ruling. While the criteria are not overly burdensome, they are numerous and specific, so health care providers with automated contact systems should review them carefully to ensure ongoing compliance with the TPCA.
Following the Ruling, health care providers with automated contact systems must either obtain patient consent prior to using automated contact systems, or be sure that their automated contact system comply with the Ruling. Generally, to be exempt from obtaining prior express consent from patients calls to wireless numbers using automated contact systems:
- must not be charged to patient-recipients;
- must be for specific, health-related purposes;
- must include easy opt-out options; and
- are subject to volume and brevity restrictions.
The Ruling describes in greater detail the steps that health care providers must take to meet the above standards.
The FCC ruling is available here. Contact a member of the Benesch team if you have any questions about your automatic contact system after the FCC’s recent ruling.