Psychology Today Introduces New Call Tracking: Raises Privacy Concerns

Last week, Psychology Today, the popular website that many psychotherapists use to advertise their practices, sent out an email to those with listings on the site to inform us that we had been opted-in to a new “security feature.”

From the email:

Psychology Today has recently introduced call tracking and call security
for your profile. People who find you on Psychology Today see a unique
local phone number for you that, when they call it, automatically
connects to your private number.

The email went on to explain that clinicians benefit from this change because it offers us “a simple way to tell who found your profile on the Therapy Directory.” Really? You want to know another really simple way to tell how your clients found you? Try directly asking all new clients how they found your practice. I don’t need the website itself to document patient first contacts in order for me to have this information.

There are a number of problems with this system. First, Psychology Today is used by many people to locate a therapist in their area. But now, clients will not find your actual office number listed. They will see an automatically generated number that Psychology Today has put in place of your office number (as if you would not want clients to know your actual office number!). Then, the site records and documents calls made to our practices without patients being made aware that they are using a third party to connect with us. The call then gets forwarded to our practice phone number and an email summary is sent to us. But the call information also winds up being documented by Psychology Today, including caller ID information and the length of the call. This information is also stored on the Psychology Today site when you log into your account.

This is a serious potential breach of privacy and I object to this service being something I was automatically signed up for, without my consent. On a recent listserv discussion, many therapists had not even received a notification that this change had been made.

In order to opt-out of the virtual phone number, you must log into your Psychology Today account account and click the option in ‘Contact History’. I did this and I recommend others do so if you care about who else retains records of who calls your office or if you want clients to be able to save your actual phone number from the site.

For what it’s worth, Psychology Today also records the information of those who choose to email you from their site. I much prefer that if clients want to make direct contact with me, they use my secure form or phone my office directly without an advertiser acting as the middle man and collecting data on those who wish to use my services.

Update: 8/5/10

For those who want to know more about what it looks like when Psychology Today sends these emails, I phoned my own virtual number. As a caller, it sounded just as if I was calling my regular office line. No information or announcement let me know that my call was being routed through a service. After the call, I received the following email:

Hi Keely Kolmes,

At 09:21 AM PDT you received a phone call. This caller found you on PsychologyToday.com.

Call to (415) 501-9098
Call from Caller ID Blocked
Date: August 5, 2010
Call Duration: 00:00:06

To view a record of this call, please log into your profile and click on the Contact History tab.

FAQs:-

WHY AM I GETTING THIS CALL CONFIRMATION?

Psychology Today has recently introduced call tracking and call security
for your profile. People who find you on Psychology Today see a unique
local phone number for you that, when they call it, automatically
connects to your private number.

WHY DO I BENEFIT?

1: It’s a simple way to tell who found your profile on the Therapy
Directory.

2: You get a record of the people who have called you (Check ‘Contact
History’ when you log in).

3: Spam phone calls from telemarketers are filtered out – about 99% such
calls can be screened.

To opt out of receiving these call confirmation emails, log into your
account and click the option in ‘Contact History’.


The folks at PsychologyToday.com

*Don’t reply to this email*

© 2010 Keely Kolmes, Psy.D.
To cite this page: Kolmes, K. (2010) Additional comments on documentation for clinicians. Retrieved month/year from http://drkkolmes.com/2010/08/05/psychology-today-introduces-new-call-tracking-raises-privacy-concerns/

2 Responses to “Psychology Today Introduces New Call Tracking: Raises Privacy Concerns”

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