Chances are you’ve heard about the new bill C-28 that will be coming into effect on July 1 2014 through your own mailing lists. This anti-spam bill makes it easier for consumers to control what email messages get sent to them.
What does that mean for your dental practice? Well if you’re in Canada or your patients come to you from Canada it will change the ways in which you’re able to market to them via email.
The biggest issue is consent. Consent comes in two forms – implied consent and express consent.
Implied consent is given if the patient has engaged the practice to perform a service or purchased something from the practice within a two year period. The patient would be classified as having an existing business relationship with the practice. If it has been longer than two years that you’ve had an interaction with your patient you can no longer assume implied consent and must remove them from your mailing list.
Express consent is given when a patient signs up for your newsletter or marketing materials either through an online or written form. There is no time limit when it comes to express consent – unless the patient withdraws consent. You may continue to correspond with them even after the 2 years is up – which is why it’s a great idea to get express consent.
Patients must be able to remove themselves from your marketing newsletter at any time. The majority of email marketing services have this function built-in. Now that it is the law you have to be able to show that you’ve responded to unsubscribe requests so if you’re doing it manually make sure that you remove any unsubscribes within 10 days of receiving the request.
You must keep records of consent, since if a problem occurs the onus is on the practice to demonstrate implied or express consent.
You are allowed to email current patients without express consent about non-marketing related topics, such as confirming their appointment time or sending them educational materials regarding their next scheduled procedure. This legislation is not meant to stop regular business correspondence but to eliminate unwanted communication or SPAM.
Still have questions? Check out http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/casl-lcap.htm or send us an email.