Text marketing in healthcare is not like in other industries. If you want to market to patients by text, you must follow federal regulations under the Telephone Consumer protection Act (TCPA) governed by the FCC. It's also important to know how to market to patients while maintaining legitimacy and reputability.
- Ask for consent. You must have written consent to send marketing messages to patients or you’ll be in violation of TCPA laws and can be fined $500 to $1500 per unsolicited SMS. Marketing messages include advertisements for new services, solicitations to events, special offers, and review requests.
- Provide two different opt-ins - one for medical texts, one for marketing texts. On OhMD, you must get patient consent before texting them medical information. You should send a separate but similar consent request for marketing texts.
- Keep it relevant. Don't send out every marketing text to your entire patient list. You should segment your audience to message only those whom the content applies to. For example, if you want to send a marketing text encouraging patients to attend an informational session on diabetes, send this text to patients who you know have diabetes. Cater your messaging to the unique needs of your patients and it will be received as helpful rather than annoying.
- Offer an opt-out. Getting patients to opt in to marketing texts is a good start, but you'll also need to give them the ability to opt out if they change their mind. Tack a note onto the end of your marketing texts to reply "stop" if they wish to opt out. Then remove them from your marketing list.
- Train all team members on proper text marketing rules.
- Don’t send marketing texts to patients who have not consented to receiving marketing messages.
- Don't combine marketing and healthcare information in a text. You need consent if there's any marketing info in a message (regardless of the presence of health info).
- Don't spam your patients. If you send too many marketing texts, you'll run the risk of patients ignoring your important medical messages. Spamming patients loses patients.
Medical Messages Exempt from TCPA
The following types of messages aren't considered marketing, and can be sent to patients once they have consented to medical messages.
- Appointment and exam confirmation and reminders
- Wellness check-ups
- Hospital pre-registration instructions
- Pre-operative instructions
- Lab results
- Post discharge follow-up and prescription notifications
- Home healthcare instructions