With tools like Communicate, getting important information out to your patient base is easier than ever. However, it is important to remember that when sending such communications, regulations such as the Spam Act 2003 (Cth) (Spam Act) apply.
Australian law requires all marketing-style communications to comply with the Spam Act to protect consumers. An example of a marketing-style message that you might wish to send to your patients includes advertising a new service or practitioner available at your practice.
The Australian Media and Communications Authority (AMCA) has an online guide designed to help Australian businesses avoid sending spam. We recommend that you read this guide before sending any custom messages using HealthEngine’s Communicate service.
The key points covered by the AMCA’s guide are to:
- Ensure you have the recipients’ permission to message them.
- Identify yourself clearly and correctly as the sender.
- Include correct contact details within the message.
- Make it easy for the recipient to unsubscribe.
HealthEngine’s Communicate service has built in features to address some of these points by automatically:
- Stating your practice’s provided name at the beginning of each message.
- Providing an easy unsubscribe option at the end of every message.
Therefore, when using Communicate, the key things for you to ensure are:
- That you have obtained consent from each patient you are sending the message to.
- If you are not sure, we recommend holding off from sending a message to the patient until you can confirm their consent at their next appointment and record their consent clearly in their patient record once obtained.
- That the practice name you have provided to HealthEngine is correct.
- That you include your contact details in each custom message you send.
If your message is purely informational, for example to inform a patient that the doctor their booked appointment is with is sick and the appointment needs to be rescheduled, this is not considered marketing style messaging. However, it is always best to abide by the recommendations just to be safe.
We also recommend keeping your custom Communicate messages as short as possible so that patients will read the message in full and not miss important information.
An example of how you might structure your Communicate custom message is presented below:
<Clinic-name>: <Message>. <Call-to-action>. <Opt-out-message>.
Fictional Health Clinic: Please be advised that Dr Smith is away sick today and unable to attend your appointment. To re-book, please visit: <link>. Reply STOP to unsubscribe.
Note that Communicate automatically includes your clinic’s name at the beginning of the message and the opt out message at the end, so you won’t need to add these pieces yourself.
Additionally, it is recommended to send at most one message to a patient once per month. This is because more frequent messages could cause patients to feel that they are being “spammed” and subsequently to unsubscribe from Communicate, resulting in missing future important messages from your practice.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will happily assist you.