The Whole World is On Pause because of COVID-19 – Including Some Parts of the TCPA.
COVID-19 and the corresponding shelter in place orders have left many patients avoiding doctor visits. As a result, the hospital’s supporting patient service contact centers must be even more proficient at establishing timely communication channels. A large part of that effort involves greater outreach volume. However, regulations such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) which dictate when and how a cell phone contact can be made, have left many healthcare companies uneasy about facilitating outreach communication.
In response to this unique environment, on March 20, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission released a Declaratory Ruling that confirms the COVID-19 pandemic is an “emergency” that qualifies for the TCPA’s emergency purposes exception. In doing so, the TCPA’s typically complex and rigorous consent requirements can be loosened under certain circumstances.
In this Declaratory Ruling, the FCC noted that as a result of the health crisis, the emergency exception applies only to calls and texts that are
- Made by calling from a hospital, a health care provider, a state or local health official, or other government official, or a person acting on behalf of such an organization and on its express direction
- Solely informational, necessary because of the COVID-19 outbreak, and directly related to threat or safety arising out of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The ruling went on to provide examples that do not qualify under this exemption such as “calls that contain advertising or telemarketing of services” including “advertising a commercial grocery delivery service, or selling or promoting health insurance, cleaning services, or home test kits.” Collection calls were also noted as being an improper use of the exception.
This declaratory ruling may provide some additional flexibility to reach patients under the TCPA. However, like all regulatory updates, this too is nuanced and complex, leaving businesses vulnerable to potential risk. This is especially true as the nation begins to re-open and what is acceptable under the FCC’s emergency exception may become even more complex. As a result, the most risk-averse response, even in view of the FCC’s recent declaratory ruling, may be to continue to leverage proper consent management best practices and appropriate technology.
LiveVox’s TCPA-focused outbound dialing solution, Human Call Initiator (HCI) is one such technology. HCI empowers businesses to more effectively engage with consumers via cell phones during this trying time while mitigating risk and maintaining efficiency. LiveVox’s HCI has been proven nine times in federal court (out of nine times) not to be an autodialer under the TCPA. In addition, HCI has shown to provide 5.11X more live answers per agent call over traditional manual dialing.
LiveVox is a next-generation contact center platform that powers more than 14 billion interactions a year. We seamlessly integrate omnichannel communications, CRM, and WFO capabilities to deliver an exceptional agent and customer experience, while reducing compliance risk. Our reliable, easy-to-use technology enables effective engagement strategies on communication channels of choice to drive performance in your contact center. Our battle-tested risk mitigation and security tools help clients maximize their potential in an ever-changing business environment. With 20 years of pure cloud expertise, LiveVox is at the forefront of cloud contact center innovation. Our more than 450 global employees are headquartered in San Francisco; with offices in Atlanta, Denver, New York City, St. Louis, Medellin, Colombia, and Bangalore, India.