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TCPA & Patient’s Right to Revoke Consent

Even though it might seem a bit implausible at first glance; imagine the following scenario.  A passenger chooses to offer consent to an airline that they frequently fly with to receive calls or text messages from the airline regarding upcoming flights that they have booked.  At some point during a subsequent flight, the passenger decides that they no longer wish to receive any calls or texts from the airline.  

Based on the latest Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Declaratory Ruling pertaining to revoking consent, the passenger could legitimately flag down a member of the flight crew mid-flight; and provide them with their name and phone number while letting them know that they no longer wish to receive calls or texts from the airline.  After that point, if a call or text were to come through, the passenger would have the capability of suing the airline based on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

While the illustration might seem a bit far-fetched, this is the issue at hand regarding the topic of revocation in the FCC’s Declaratory Ruling on July 15, 2015.  The ruling, which deals with revoking consent is very broad, making it problematic for companies to comply with; particularly larger companies with multiple offices throughout the country.  

However, because of the language used in the creation of the rule, there is so much room for mistakes that many companies that actually have the express consent to contact a consumer on a cell phone will choose instead not to do so.  The eventuality will be that consumers, or patients, in this case will no longer be able to receive contact through phone call or text to their cell phones.

Obtaining consent in the first place is very clear; but revoking that consent is a completely different subject.  The tide has turned against businesses when it comes to this topic.  The ruling points out that “we clarify that a called party may revoke consent at any time and through any reasonable means.  A caller may not limit the manner in which revocation may occur.”  The Commission further added “Consumers have a right to revoke consent, using any reasonable method, including orally or in writing.”

Many people today are tied to their cell phone for reminders on just about every aspect of their daily lives, from doctor appointments, to automated payments and credit or debit card alerts from a banking institutions.  In today’s world, many would be adversely impacted if businesses were to stop texting consumers simply because the situation regarding consent and its revocation have become too much to deal with.  

Provider offices should ensure that they and their vendor partners are mindful of the following best practices:

-Proof of consent is necessary and should be noted within the system.

-Protocols for tracking consent are a must.  Recordings are necessary for vocal consent and written consent should be scanned into the system.  

-Protocols for revocation of consent are also necessary.  All methods of revocation of consent should be covered; including live notification, vocally, through traditional mail, via fax or email, through SMS (text messaging), through website portals.

-Everyone who will ever work with this patient’s file again must be aware that the patient has revoked their consent.  Also, the cell phone numbers of those who have revoked their consent should be immediately removed from any automatic dialers.

-If the patient has multiple accounts and the consumer is not clear about which account they wish to revoke consent for, all of the accounts should be flagged as consent revoked.

Although the rules regarding consent revocation appear difficult to live up to, if a medical facility or their vendor partners have a plan set up and well documented and can prove that the plan is a regular part of their business practice; the challenge can be met.

Last modified onMonday, 12 October 2015 20:36
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