Demystifying the new TRAI guide lines for healthcare

Demystifying the new TRAI guide lines for healthcare

Let’s face it. If we as a consumer hate spam then as a marketer we need to applaud the new guidelines which the TRAI has come out with to regulate pesky text and calls.

National Call Preference Registry (NCPR) is the new avatar of the National Do Not Call Registry (NDNC) which was an earlier unsuccessful attempt at regulating spam.

SMS remains one of key drivers of our digital marketing efforts and many healthcare companies have come out with innovative ways to reach patients through SMS and adherence to the new guidelines is going to require some tweaking in the overall flow structure of the engagement.

Firstly all messages are going to be classified as promotional and transactional SMS;

Transactional messaging will use a communication pipe which is separate from promotional messaging.

Transactional message” means an SMS containing only –

  • Information sent to its customer(s) by a banks, financial institution, insurance companies, credit card company, depositories registered with Securities and Exchange Board of India(SEBI) or Direct to Home(DTH) operators pertaining to the account of that customer(s)
  • Information given by Airlines, Indian Railways or its authorized agencies to its passengers regarding travel schedules, ticket booking and reservation
  • Information from a registered educational institution to its students, their parents or guardians

Promotional messages are the ones which fall in the following 7 categories

  1. Banking/Insurance/Financial products/credit cards,
  2. Real Estate,
  3. Education
  4. Health
  5. Consumer goods and automobiles
  6. Communication/Broadcasting/Entertainment/IT,
  7. Tourism and Leisure.

Promotional messages cannot be sent to consumers during 9 PM to 9 AM.

These changes will have severe implications on any text based service; the service provider (SMS gateway) has to do a mandatory database scrubbing to ensure that promotional messages do not reach users listed in the NCPR.

To ensure that the people registered in your text based programs continue to get SMS updates; you can get them to move from a completely blocked category to a partially blocked category.

Fully Blocked Category ensures that no promotional massages reaches the inbox, where as partially blocked empowers the user to unblock the categories which are of interest to him.

For registering option using SMS, for ‘fully blocked category’, write “START 0” and send it to 1909. For ‘partially blocked category’, send SMS ‘START’ with one or multiple options from the list of seven categories given above.

There are at present 7 preferences to choose from- Banking/Insurance/Financial Products/Credit Cards-1, Real Estate-2, Education-3, Health-4, Consumer goods and automobiles-5, Communication/Broadcasting/Entertainment/IT, Tourism-7.


For example: To receive messages relating to only Health products then send SMS “START 4” to 1909. Similarly, for receiving messages relating to Real Estate and Education, send SMS “START 2,3” to 1909.

Consumers can register their preference by calling up 1909 or sending a text and unblocking the categories which are of importance to them.

Once a consumer has unblocked 4, then all promotional messages under category health can be sent to the consumer and this won’t violate the guidelines set by TRAI.

In case if your consumers are engaging on a pull based service, then the response messages will only got to the ones who are not registered in NCPR.

If a company has a service to know what is the ideal weight

Ex SMS Weight <space>Age to 5XXXX to know your ideal weight,

And the consumer gets the ideal weight as a response SMS, this response SMS will only come to those who are not a part of NCPR.

These are very early days and the next few weeks will lead to more clarity in terms of operations. We will try to keep updating this space as an when new learning comes in.


Jini Mathai is Group Head alternate media at Brandcare Healthcare Communications and handles the mobile and internet initiatives for leading clients. You can reach him on jmathai at brandcare dot net




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