This article explains our Reminders Plus feature. You can click one of the links below to jump straight to a particular section or simply scroll down manually to see each section sequentially.
- How does Reminders Plus work?
- What customisation options are available?
- What happens when a patient has multiple, consecutive appointments booked?
- Why might a patient not receive a reminder?
- What happens when a patient re-books or cancels over the phone or in person?
- How can I see which appointments have been cancelled?
- Why do patients receive an email reminder as well as an SMS or in-app notification?
- What happens when a patient responds to an SMS reminder with something other than "Yes" or "No"?
- Do reminders work on all types of mobile phones?
- Does Reminders Plus respect the privacy and consent of my patients?
- How does Reminders Plus determine which channel to send a reminder by?
How does Reminders Plus work?
Reminders are sent for all appointments in the appointment book, either by SMS or in-app notification in the HealthEngine app and, as a courtesy, by email.
Reminders are sent (by default) the day before the appointment at a time set by your practice in the 'Preferences' section. You can choose to send up to two reminders per appointment at a time of your choice. Remember to consider the patient when choosing send times for reminders - we recommend sending your reminders between 4pm and 6pm as this allows you to capture appointments booked later in the day while still respecting the needs of patients with regards to their daily schedule.
When patients receive their SMS or in-app reminder, they can confirm their attendance, cancel the appointment, and (if cancelled) re-book through the app. Note that email reminders do not allow for confirmation or cancellation.
If a patient cancels their appointment, your appointment book is instantly updated and the appointment is republished online for other patients to book.
What customisation options are available?
The following customisation options are available for Reminders Plus:
- Send time
- Choose what time to send reminders to patients.
- A second reminder can be set if desired.
- If your practice has multiple locations, choose which locations to send reminders for.
- Choose which practitioners to send reminders for.
- Appointment types
- Choose which appointment types to send reminders for.
- Disallow cancellations
- Choose which appointment types to disallow automatic cancellation for; patients attempting to cancel will be prompted to call the practice.
- SMS consent sync
- Choose whether or not to snyc the SMS consent (opt-in / opt-out of SMS communications) settings for your patients according to their patient record in your Practice Management Software with the Reminders Plus system.
- By activating the sync, patients who do not consent to receive SMS communications according to your Practice Management Software will NOT be sent any reminders for their appointments.
- Note that appointment reminders are not considered to be marketing messages as they are triggered in response to a transaction (booking) that takes place; therefore, reminders may be sent even where a patient does not consent to receive marketing messages by SMS.
- This setting will need to be disabled for practices on BestPractice Jade as BestPractice's Jade edition does not allow third-party integrations to access their consent settings, regardless of whether or not they are official partners with BestPractice.
- As a reminder is a transactional message pertaining to a health service the patient has booked, legally, patient consent is not required.
- Email template
- Choose whether to use HealthEngine's branding or your practice's branding for your reminder emails.
- If choosing to use your practice's branding, this will replace HealthEngine's logo with your practice's logo (as per what is uploaded to your Professional Profile) in the email message.
- SMS message
- Customise the reminder message sent to patients via SMS or in-app notification.
- Note that the email template cannot be customised.
- Note that the last line of the SMS message ("Reply YES to confirm and NO to cancel") cannot be customised as this is crucial to the function of the product.
What happens when a patient has multiple, consecutive appointments booked?
If a patient has more than one appointment booked with the same name and phone number, directly one after another ("consecutive" appointments), a reminder will only be sent for the first appointment time.
If the patient confirms, cancels, or re-books through the reminder, the action will apply for all consecutive bookings.
Why might a patient not receive a reminder?
Reminders may not be sent for a number of reasons, such as:
- The phone number recorded in the patient's record is invalid.
- Often this occurs when a landline number is stored in place of a mobile number in their record.
- One or more of the 'Preferences' prevent the reminder from being sent.
- For example, the patient's appointment type is deselected in the Reminders Plus 'Preferences'.
- Another example of this is when your 'Preferences' are set to sync SMS consent from your Practice Management Software and the patient has opted-out of SMS communications in their patient record.
- The patient books their appointment for the next day after the Reminders send time.
- For example, if reminders are set to be sent at 5pm and a patient books an appointment at 6pm for the next day, they won't receive a reminder as they've booked after the send time.
- We recommend not selecting to sync the SMS consent settings from your Practice Management Software unless you are certain that the settings are up-to-date, otherwise many patients may not receive their important appointment reminders and may forget to attend their appointment.
What happens when a patient re-books or cancels over the phone or in person?
Reminders Plus changes no part of your practice's normal appointment management processes. The Reminders Plus system is connected with your Practice Management Software, so when a patient changes booking details, the system will know and use the latest information to determine what reminders to send.
How can I see which appointments have been cancelled?
In the Reminders Plus dashboard in Practice Admin, you can see in the 'To Action' list which patients have cancelled their appointment and not re-booked. The contact details of the patient are also made available in this screen so that you can easily contact the patient to try to re-book them. Once you've reached out to the patient, you can check them off the list by clicking the radio button to the left of their name. This lets the other staff at your practice know that you've already reached out to the patient so that the patient isn't contacted multiple times.
Alternatively, you can navigate to the 'History' tab and filter for the 'Cancelled' status using the drop-down menu along the top of the page. This will show you which appointments have been cancelled for the last 7 days. You can also use the filters to see any one particular day in the past 30 days, if desired.
Why do patients receive an email reminder as well as an SMS or in-app notification?
Any bookings made through HealthEngine Patient Match or the Online Booking System will continue to receive the standard courtesy email reminder two hours before their appointment. The reason we continue to send this email is that the patient used HealthEngine to book their appointment and so it is assumed that they would like to receive the usual transactional emails from us.
What happens when a patient responds to an SMS reminder with something other than "Yes" or "No"?
The Reminders Plus system understands more than a "Yes" or "No" response. It will also recognise:
- For confirmations - | y | ye | yes | yeah | ok | okay | confirm | confirmed |
- For cancellations - | n | no | nope | cancel | cancelled |
If a patient responds with anything other than the above, their details and response will be added to the 'To Action' list in the Reminders Plus dashboard in Practice Admin for your practice to manually review and follow-up where needed.
Do reminders work on all types of mobile phones?
A reminder will be sent to every patient that has a valid mobile phone number recorded in your Practice Management Software, and according to your 'Preferences' set in the Reminders Plus dashboard in Practice Admin.
However, in-app reminders are only sent to those with the iOS version of the HealthEngine app installed on their phone. For patients without the iOS version of the HealthEngine app on their phone, an SMS will be sent.
Does Reminders Plus respect the privacy and consent of my patients?
We understand that patient privacy and consent are top of mind for both you and your patients. Here at HealthEngine, we also take this topic very seriously and, as such, we have provided the below information to help you if your patients have expressed concern:
HealthEngine complies with the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) which are contained in the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act).
Reminders Plus only contains the first name of the patient and no further personal information.
Reminders are triggered in response to a transaction (booking) that takes place; therefore, these SMS or in-app messages are not considered to be marketing messages and do not require consent.
How does Reminders Plus determine which channel to send a reminder by?
The Reminders Plus system first attempts to send a reminder via in-app notification (iOS only).
If the patient does not have the HealthEngine iOS app installed on their phone, the system then attempts to send the reminder via SMS instead.
If the patient does not have a valid mobile number in their patient record in your Practice Management System, then the system will attempt to send the reminder via email. Note that email reminders do not allow the patient to confirm or cancel their appointment.
If the patient does not have a valid email address stored in their patient record in your Practice Management System, they will not receive a reminder.
Remember: email reminders are sent for all appointments, provided that a valid email address can be found in the associated patient's record in your Practice Management System.