Free Appointment Service?

April 28th, 2010

If you are considering using an online scheduler you have probably seen the services that claim they are free.

Think carefully before you use a service that says they are free.  While it is true that a new service might offer free service for a test period to attract customers there are very few things in life that are free.

Don’t you wonder how they are paying their bills if their service is free?  One distinct possibility is that they are trolling for names to add to their mail lists.

These mail lists would then be sold or rented to other people.  While you may be okay with getting a lot of spam and junk mail because you are getting a free service, what are your patients going to think when they realize that using your online service means that they are going to get tons of junk mail?

But even worse is the fact that if a free service sells the information that they gather they are getting a whole lot more than just the e-mail address.  They are getting home, cell and work numbers, home addresses and numbers to which they can send text messages.

Worst of all,  what if they take any information that explains the reason that the patient is scheduling the appointment.  You might actually be in violation of your HIPAA responsibilities.

Even though most countries ban the selling or renting of e-mails without permission a company can bury that permission so deeply and vaguely in their terms of service that you won’t know about it till you start getting calls from angry patients.

Is saving a few bucks a month really worth the cost of loosing patients?  Make sure that any service you use clearly states that they will never rent or use the information that they are storing for you.  If it doesn’t state that clearly, why would you ever want to risk doing business with them?

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