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Maximize Engagement With Opt-in Text Messages

When, Why & How to Opt-In Your Customers or Patients

Opt in Text Message

An opt-in text message is a type of SMS communication that recipients have actively agreed to receive. This consent-based marketing method means your audience has given permission to be contacted, typically by signing up through a form, a website, or by sending a keyword to a short code. This approach ensures compliance with regulations and builds trust with your audience.

Legal Compliance - Am I legally required to opt-in text messages?

Is opt in for text messages a legal requirement

You legally need to have customers or patients opt in to receive text messages in several specific scenarios, particularly when the messages are promotional or marketing in nature. Here are the key situations where opt-in consent is required vs not required:

When You Need Legal Consent

  1. Marketing and Promotional Messages:

    • Explicit Written Consent Required: Any text messages that promote products, services, special offers, or events. Examples include:
      • Sales promotions
      • Discounts
      • Special events
      • Product launches
  2. Healthcare Communications:

When You Do Not Need Explicit Consent

  1. Transactional or Relationship Messages:

    • No Additional Consent Required: These are messages directly related to a transaction or service the customer has already initiated. Examples include:
      • Order confirmations
      • Shipping notifications
      • Appointment reminders (if they’ve scheduled an appointment)
      • Service updates or alerts
  2. Existing Business Relationship:

    • Implied Consent: If there’s an ongoing relationship and the messages are related to the products or services they are already using. Examples include:
      • Account notifications (e.g., password changes, security alerts)
      • Subscription or service renewal reminders
      • Warranty information
  3. Emergency Purposes:

Appointment Reminders - When you need to Opt-In Text Messages

Appointment reminders can fall into different categories based on the context in which they are sent, which is why they appear on both lists. Here’s a more detailed explanation:

When Appointment Reminders Require Consent

  1. Healthcare Providers:
    • HIPAA Regulations: If you are a healthcare provider and the appointment reminders include personal health information, explicit consent is required to comply with HIPAA regulations.
    • Marketing Context: If the appointment reminder is part of a marketing strategy (e.g., promoting additional services or follow-up treatments), explicit consent is required.

When Appointment Reminders Do Not Require Additional Consent

  1. Transactional Context:
    • Existing Appointment: If a customer or patient has already scheduled an appointment, reminding them of this appointment is considered a transactional message and typically does not require additional consent beyond the initial agreement to receive such reminders.
    • Implied Consent: When a patient provides their contact information during the scheduling of an appointment, there is an implied consent to receive communications related to that appointment.
Opting in text messages for appointment reminders

How Do I "Opt-In Text Messages" for my Patients or Customers?

Here are some effective ways for patients to opt-in to receive text messages:

1. Online Forms

  • Website Sign-Up: Embed a sign-up form on your website where patients can enter their phone number and consent to receive text messages.

  • Patient Portal: Use your patient portal to collect consent during the registration or appointment scheduling process.

2. Text-to-Join Campaigns

  • Keyword Texting: Patients can opt-in by texting a specific keyword (e.g., “JOIN” or “APPOINTMENT”) to a short code or phone number.

  • QR Codes: Display QR codes in your office or on printed materials that patients can scan to send a pre-written opt-in text message.

3. In-Person Sign-Ups

  • Paper Forms: Include a section on new patient intake forms or appointment paperwork where patients can provide their phone number and opt-in to receive text messages.

  • Digital Tablets: Use tablets in your office for patients to digitally sign up for text message updates and reminders.

4. Appointment Scheduling

  • Phone Calls: When scheduling appointments over the phone, ask patients if they would like to receive text message reminders and document their consent.

  • Confirmation Emails: Send an email confirmation after an appointment is scheduled that includes a link to opt-in for text message reminders.

5. Patient Consent Forms

  • New Patient Forms: Include a section on new patient registration forms that allows patients to opt-in to receive text messages.

  • Update Forms: Periodically update consent forms and ask existing patients if they would like to opt-in for text messages.

6. Marketing Materials

  • Brochures and Flyers: Distribute brochures and flyers in your office that explain the benefits of opting in for text messages and provide instructions on how to do so.

  • Email Newsletters: Include information and opt-in links in your email newsletters encouraging patients to sign up for text messages.

7. Social Media and Online Advertising

  • Social Media Posts: Promote your text message opt-in program on your social media channels with clear instructions on how to join.

  • Online Ads: Use targeted online advertising to inform patients about the option to receive text messages and provide easy opt-in methods.

Best Practices for Collecting Consent

  • Clear Disclosure: Clearly explain what types of messages patients will receive (e.g., appointment reminders, health tips, promotions) and how often they will be sent.

  • Opt-Out Information: Inform patients that they can opt out at any time by replying with a keyword like “STOP.”

  • Privacy Assurance: Assure patients that their phone numbers will be kept confidential and used only for the specified purposes.

By offering multiple convenient ways for patients to opt-in, you can increase participation and ensure that your communication efforts are effective and compliant with legal requirements.

Example Scenarios When Opt-In Text Messages is Required Vs Not Required

See how much you know about when opt-in text messages are required with our test below!

Opt in Text Message Quiz
Opt-In Text Messages Quiz

Opt-In Text Messages Quiz

1. Your dental clinic wants to send out a text message offering a 20% discount on teeth whitening services. Is opt-in consent required?


2. A patient has an appointment scheduled for next week, and you send a reminder about the date and time. Is opt-in consent required?


3. Your clinic sends a text message to all patients providing a discount code for flu shots. Is opt-in consent required?


4. Due to a power outage, you send a text message informing patients about the temporary closure of your office. Is opt-in consent required?


5. Your clinic sends weekly health tips and wellness advice via text message. Is opt-in consent required?


6. A pharmacy sends a text message confirming that a patient’s prescription is ready for pickup. Is opt-in consent required?


7. You send an invitation via text message to all patients for a free health seminar at your clinic. Is opt-in consent required?


8. An online medical supply store sends a text to notify a customer that their order has been shipped. Is opt-in consent required?


9. Your clinic sends a text message notifying patients about a service disruption due to maintenance work. Is opt-in consent required?


10. You send a text message alerting patients about a security breach affecting their account information. Is opt-in consent required?

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