Posted on Mar 9, 2020
When studying to become a dentist, students are focused on learning and perfecting the skills to be an effective dentist who can meet the needs of his or her patients. While this is an essential part of becoming a good dentist, it doesn’t do much to help you become a business owner, operations manager, and marketing professional. In order to have a thriving practice and make money from this profession, dentists need to become a jack of all trades! To help with this monumental task, there are many businesses that offer services that can make all the hats a dentist needs to wear a little easier to manage. However, dentists should know the right questions to ask and take a more active role in understanding these services.
Take a look at what happened to a dentist who wasn’t asking the right questions:
“I own a dental office in Broward county. It’s called Vital Dental Center. As many of you here I use a patient’s reminders software. The one I use is Legwork. One of the features of it is the capability of sending text messages to my patient database from Dentrix. That’s indeed one of the main features Legwork spoke highly about. At the end of 2019, I sent two text messages to our patient entire database. Really inoffensive messages. The first one was inviting patients to a complimentary oral cancer screening at my office. The second text message was the beginning of December reminding patients to schedule an appointment for fathering dental needs before the end of year insurance expiration. On January 15th I received a class action summons from a law office in Miami which a patient hired stating that basically that it was a violation of her privacy etc. Now I need to hire an attorney and spend a ton of money because by ignorance on my side I sent those two literally inoffensive text messages. I called Legwork they literally washed their hands and dodge the ball. I feel extremely left alone by the company that offered me the service. They should have known better, and they shouldn’t and should not be offering this patient communication service knowing the kind of liability I as a customer would be having even more now with this new text message law. I really thought a big company such as Legwork would stand behind their customers and leave this matter in the hands of their attorneys to protect me. Anyone with a similar experience? Needless to say, not only I’m not sending any other text to patients but canceling Legwork software. I urge anyone using Legwork to think about this.”
Unfortunately, this dentist is in violation of laws that could lead to a loss of a substantial amount of money. While text messages and email communications can be an effective way for dentists to market to potential, current, and former patients there are laws and guidelines that must be followed to avoid potential lawsuits. To avoid these situations, all new patient forms and or HIPAA compliance forms should include a section that states something similar to, "By signing this form, I agree to opt into text messages and/or email communication from This Dental Practice. You may opt-out at any time from all text messages or emails by following unsubscribe links or calling our office."
The lesson learned here is to ask questions and take a more active role in understanding all the services you may be looking to an outside business to provide for you. Read documentation and research best practices before blindly trusting a company with your practice and reputation.