Not only are we sick of getting robocalls, the darn things really are affecting our health.
According to Consumer Reports, doctors are getting frustrated because patients aren't answering their phones because they think they're robocalls ready to scam them. And there are several instances in which a doctor needs to speak to a patient, stat.
How bad have we become about picking up our phones? Seventy percent of Americans are not answering their phones if they don't recognize the number, according to a Consumer Reports survey.
Blocking robocalls means blocking important calls
Americans don't want to waste their time or risk being scammed by answering what they assume is a robocall. But if you don't pick up the phone, you could miss information ranging from confirming reservations to utility service calls. The industry most concerned about this epidemic of sending phones straight to voicemail is health care.
Mark W. Brennan is a partner at the international law firm Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C., who advises corporate clients on communications issues. He's seen the impact of not answering calls on the health care industry.
"In the health care context, missed appointments from ignored reminder calls can cause significant treatment delays," Brennan told Consumer Reports. "Adherence reminders have been shown to improve patient outcomes, so it's potentially life-threatening when those phone calls are missed."
Life-threatening. This isn't a joke. Patients are being referred to specialists to treat what could be a serious health problem, but when specialists call patients to schedule appointments, they aren't answering.
"It’s a significant problem," Dr. Adam Cheriff, chief of clinical operations for Weill Cornell Medicine told Consumer Reports. "We call and call and call and can’t get hold of patients. They don’t pick up the phone."
Eventually, the specialists just stop calling.
Robocalls are making Americans angrier
In 2018, a record 48 billion robocalls were placed to phones in the U.S., according to YouMail, a company that blocks and tracks robocalls. That's about 1,500 robocalls per second, which is 56.8% more robocalls than there were in 2017, according to Consumer Reports.
It's no surprise that robocalls have become the largest source of consumer complaints to the Federal Trade Commission. According to the FTC, 65% of consumer complaints stem from robocalls.
The FTC is asking mobile carriers to make it easier for consumers to get notified that the call is likely a scam. For its part, the government is cracking down on some robocall operations.
The bottom line is there has to be a way for Americans to not only connect with their doctors but also with those they have critical business with. Here are 7 things you can do to make sure you block robocalls but still connect with who you need to.
- Reject anonymous calls automatically
- Join the National Do Not Call Registry list
- Set your phone on do not disturb
- Add your doctor and health care provider to your favorites, so they can get through even when you're in do-not-disturb mode
- Use carrier tools to block unwanted calls
- Use the best apps to block robocalls
- Block individual phone numbers
Phone carriers finally join fight against robocalls
Let's play a game. If you can read this entire article — read, not skim — without being interrupted by a robocall, you win. You don't get an actual prize, mind you, the reward is simply the satisfaction of knowing you could make it all the way through without having your attention diverted by a rage-inducing robo-scammer.