Telemarketing: It's easy to run afoul of rules

Friday, June 19, 2015

A lawsuit alleging Lincare violated telemarketing laws highlights just how complicated attracting new patients can be.

“As a general rule, DME providers are clueless as far as telemarketing laws,” said Jeff Baird, chairman of the Health Care Group at Brown & Fortunato.

To be sure, there’s a lot to keep track of. In addition to Medicare statute and supplier standards, there are also federal and state “Do Not Call” laws and HIPAA marketing restrictions. 

Even national players can find themselves accused of violations. Lincare in May asked a Florida federal court to throw out a False Claims Act whistleblower lawsuit that alleges the provider violated certain telemarketing rules. In 2013, Simplex Healthcare denied allegations that it had violated    Missouri’s “No Call” list.

With the exploding baby boomer population, more telemarketing—or lead generation—than ever is entering the healthcare space, said Baird.

“That’s a lot of money,” he said. “Telemarketers are going to continue to come into the market and pitch their marketing skills.”

Baird’s advice when approached by a telemarketing firm?

“Be suspicious,” he said. “I am not saying they are all dishonest or bad, but when a telemarketer works in the auto parts or dog food space, they don’t have to worry about all these healthcare fraud laws.”

A reputable firm will have experience with these laws and be open about their processes, says Karina Hayat, co-founder of Prism Media, a lead-generation firm.

“One of the biggest complaints we get when clients come on board is companies not being 100% transparent and not experienced,” she said. “They should get assurance from a legal standpoint and maybe a letter that tells the DME that their process has been vetted.”

Once a provider finds a company to work with, communication is key, says co-founder Zeeshan Hayat.

“We work closely with our clients to understand what their goals are and what they are looking to get out of their campaign,” he said. “We want to hear that feedback and help them achieve their ROI goals.”