Ocean's patient questionnaires and secure messages often require clinically important responses from patients. For example, a secure message may be sent to a patient asking them to check their blood pressure and report back to the clinic. As a result, it is important to have a systematic mechanism for following up these messages at your clinic.
Unlike plain emails or voice mails, Ocean provides an integrated safety feature to help prevent overdue responses from "falling through the cracks".
- When you send a questionnaire or patient message, you can request to be notified if the patient hasn't responded within a specific time frame (using the "Notify me if no response after" features). You can adjust this setting in the Advanced panel in the dialog used to send an online message or questionnaire.
- Later on, if the patient has not accessed this message or completed the questionnaire, then their response will be considered overdue.
Note: You do not need to use the "Allow Reply" feature in order to track these messages.
Patient Messages Templates
You can update the template for your online message or questionnaire to remember the notify/overdue setting so that you don't need to set it each time. For more information on configuring your templates, please refer to Customizing Your Templates.
- Some sites prefer to receive a nightly digest of all patients in Ocean with overdue responses, even if a reminder notification email for these patients has already been sent.
- Other sites prefer to avoid receiving repetitive notification emails each evening when they have already been notified about these specific overdue responses.
- You can customize this setting within your global Template Settings in the Ocean Portal.
- You can choose between the following:
- Alert sender about all overdue patients until their status is cleared
- For a nightly digest.
- Alert sender about each patient once
- For specific overdue responses only.
- Regardless of your email notification setting, we recommend that you designate someone at your site (usually a receptionist) to follow up on all patients with overdue responses. Individual clinicians may also choose to manually follow up their secure messages.
- To view all patients with overdue messages, log into the Ocean Portal. If you aren't already in the Patients view, click "Menu" in the top right corner and click "Patients". Click the search box under "Find Patients" to choose the search option "Patients with overdue responses".
Patient responses may be overdue for the following reasons:
- The patient hasn't checked his or her email recently
- The patient's email is incorrect (which may or may not have bounced)
- The email was spam-filtered (fortunately Ocean's emails are generally deemed legit by mail clients and are usually not spam filtered, but it can still happen)
- The patient failed to read or open the email
Regardless of the reason for the delayed reply, it is likely clinically necessary to follow up with the patient using your traditional means of communication: phoning, leaving a voicemail, texting, or discussing the next time they return for a visit. You may want to inquire why they didn't receive the message so that you or they can take steps to handle the next attempt successfully.
An Example From Dr. Kavanagh's Clinic
Dr. Kavanagh's administrative staff will often follow up by calling patients when a secure message or questionnaire is overdue for a response. If the patient's voicemail is encountered, the secretary simply leaves a message asking the patient to check their email for the message sent on a particular date. This technique is helpful because it not only follows up the concern related to the notification, but also "trains" the patient to ensure similar messages are received successfully in the future. Individual clinicians may follow this approach by sending a task/message to their secretary in their EMR, asking them to do the same.
- If you have contacted the patient and resolved the overdue response, you can defer the overdue warning for 7 days, 30 days or manually remove the "Response Overdue" status on the patient to stop receiving email notifications. In the Ocean Portal, locate the patient in the Patients view and click on the red "Response Overdue" warning. You will see the option to clear the overdue warning, or defer it by 7 or 30 days.