February 13, 2020

The TRACED Act: Are Patient Communications at Risk?

An OmniChannel communication strategy that includes automated outbound calling and texting is more important than ever when you need to communicate with patients about their appointments, financial obligations, and to manage costs internally. But, what impact could the TRACED Act have on your 2020 communication strategy?

The short answer is that it should have none, but you should seek the advice of independent legal counsel to determine if and how the TRACED Act may impact your communications. The Act is primarily directed at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the primary regulator of interstate communications. The Act gives new tools to the FCC to target and punish illegal robocalls that violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). It also directs the FCC to require that telephony carriers/voice providers (e.g., Verizon, Sprint, Cable Companies, etc.), over time, implement a new technology to ensure that caller-ID information is appropriately authenticated.

This framework, for purposes of telephone calls, is referred to as STIR/SHAKEN, with STIR standing for Secure Telephone Identity Revisited and SHAKEN standing for Secure Handling of Asserted information using toKENs.  It is designed to provide the recipient of the call real-time information that a call may be “spam” (e.g., a legitimate telephone number has been spoofed) by checking:

  1. Whether the telephone number appearing on the caller id is the same number that originated the call; and
  2. The company originating the call has authority to use that number.

Once implemented, this framework should increase answer rates as consumers begin to trust the authentication process has weeded out or otherwise properly labelled the call as “spam.” Importantly, the Act also requires the FCC to adopt rules that allow a business to verify the authenticity of its calls to prevent blocking or mislabeling of those calls.

RevSpring continues to: (i) monitor the regulatory developments in this area closely; and (ii) work closely with the companies that transmit our customers’ communications to ensure the communications are appropriately labelled and reach the intended recipient.  Before authorizing any outbound communications, customers should: (i) ensure outbound calls are made using numbers associated with the proper company; and (ii) confirm that they have the consent required by the TCPA to make the call, to the extent the TCPA applies to the call. This includes proper handling of requests by consumers for no more calls to ensure that no additional calls are made.