Are You Over-Messaging?
Some healthcare organizations over-message their patients. While their enthusiasm in communicating with their patients should be applauded, over-messaging can present some problems.
Over-messaging creates message fatigue
Message fatigue occurs when message recipients experience communication overload because they are relentlessly bombarded with repeated messages. This often happens when the sender does not take cues from a patient’s previous interaction or sends messages that are unactionable and irrelevant.
You probably can think of a personal example of when you have experienced message fatigue. At what point did you become tired of reading the messages, let alone opening them? Did you simply click “Delete,” or did you unsubscribe or flag it as junk mail? How quickly did you go from being not just tired of receiving the obnoxious amount of messages, but irritated?
Your patients feel the same way. Generating message fatigue will only decrease patient response rates and satisfaction levels.
It’s against the law — TCPA
On top of potentially exhausting your patients with communication, there are legal ramifications that prevent companies from filling peoples’ inboxes with messages.
Legislation regarding preset phone calls and text messages are monitored by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). TCPA is used to regulate automated telephone messages and in doing so, it protects client privacy. To be TCPA compliant, a professional message user can send no more than one message per day, per patient, and no more than three messages can be sent per week.
Similar to the TCPA, CAN-SPAM protects consumers from receiving unwanted electronic mail messages. The CAN-SPAM Act gives recipients the right to unsubscribe from electronic mail services.
Purposely disregarding these acts can result in an ugly lawsuit or expensive financial penalties. For more information about FCC laws, click the links at the end of the post.
Using multiple vendors could lead to over-messaging
Most violations of TCPA, CAN-SPAM, and other FCC laws occur unknowingly, so it is essential to stay up-to-date on policies and be aware of all vendors messaging patients on your behalf. Vendors have little insight into whether a patient has already been message once that day already or three times that week.
As organizations adopt patient-centered engagement – messaging for appointment reminders, satisfaction surveys, billing, transportation, check-in, appointment recalls, lab results, population health campaigns, and more – it will become necessary to consolidate messaging into a single vendor that can self-monitor.
For our patients’ sake we need to find the happy medium between over-messaging and under-messaging. Remember, the goal of messaging is to meet a patient’s needs with relevant and actionable information in the easiest way for them to respond.