Text messages offer an effective method for sharing appointment reminders with patients. The Ocean Platform now provides support for clinics to send Patient Reminders using text messages in addition to email.
This overview explains how you can enable text messages for your Patient Reminders, along with some additional details around capturing patient consent, and the costs involved with enabling this service.
How It Works
Ocean Patient Reminders are sent via email by default (assuming a valid email address is available for the patient). For reminders scheduled before an appointment, you can now also enable a text message that will be sent to the patient on the same date as the email reminder.
Reminders will appear in the following formats:
- Text message reminders with appointment confirmation enabled sent to patients without an email address on file.
Note: Ocean can capture appointment confirmations via text message, but any forms associated with the reminder will not be accessible without an email address.
How do I change the organization name used in the text message reminder?
Site Admins can modify the organization name used in the text message reminder by updating the 'Organization Title' field in the Admin area.
What language will be used for the text message reminder?
Ocean will send the text message in either English or French, depending on the patient's preferred language as specified in the EMR. If the patient's preferred language is unspecified in the EMR or is an unsupported language, the text message will be sent in English by default.
Which phone number will Ocean send the text message reminder to?
Ocean will send text messages to the mobile phone number listed in the patient's chart. The specific field for each EMR is shown below:
For Med Access, Ocean will send the text message reminder to the last 'Cell' number in the Phone List.
For detailed information on managing multiple 'Cell' type numbers in Med Access, please refer to Med Access: Which Cell Number does Ocean use for Text Message Reminders?
SMS Text Message Consent
The first time that a reminder rule is configured to send via text messages, an acknowledgement statement will be displayed reminding your site of the additional cost for text message reminders and to collect consent. Patients may not have considered that you would use their cell phone number to send a text message at the time they provided it to your clinic. Although the text message does not contain personal health information (PHI), the phone number itself is a personal identifier.
It is therefore important that you consider your approach to capturing consent from your patients before sending them text messages. Clinics should follow standard industry consent protocols for sending text messages to their patients. Note that patients can easily opt out of receiving text messages.
Patients that cannot be sent a text message because they are on the opt-out list will not generate a per message charge.
Costs Associated with Text Message Reminders
Text message reminders is an optional feature of Patient Reminders. Each text message will be charged on a per message basis (in addition to the monthly Patient Reminders license). The first time that a reminder rule is configured to use text messages, a pop-up will be displayed confirming that you are aware of the additional fee. Selecting "I accept" will confirm your acknowledgement of the additional cost for your site and any subsequent use of text messages for reminders. You can only proceed to use this feature once your acknowledgement has been collected. You can review the number of text messages sent and associated costs at any time in the Billing section within the Admin view.