Sending Patient Reminders via SMS Text Message

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. Ocean will send text messages to the mobile phone listed in the patient's chart. 

Reminders will appear in the following formats:

  • Text message reminders that do not include an Ocean form or have patient confirmations enabled.
  • Text message reminders that include Ocean form and/or have patient confirmations enabled.
  • 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.

Please note that you can edit your organization's name in the Admin page under the Organization tab. A record of patients that were sent a text reminder are available from the download log found on the Patient Reminders landing page.

SMS Text Message Consent

The first time that a reminder rule is configured to send via text messages, a pop-up will be displayed reminding you 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. One method of accomplishing this is by sending them an Ocean consent form using Ocean Patient Messages. Each text message will include the instruction "(Text END to opt out.)" so the patient can easily opt-out of receiving future messages and/or revoke consent.

Please be aware that Ocean will apply all patient opt-outs globally for text message reminders. This means that if the patient receives a reminder from any clinic and sends an 'END' response to the text message service, this patient is added to an 'opt-out' list within Ocean. Subsequently, no clinic will be able to send the patient a Patient Reminder via text message through Ocean (even if it has explicit consent from the patient to do so).

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.

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