Introducing Patient Reminders

Prerequisites

  • At the moment, Patient Reminders is supported for the following EMRs: QHR Accuro; TELUS PS SuiteTELUS Med Access, and Well EMR Group OSCAR/OSCAR Pro.
  • Users must have a Patient Messages and Reminders License to use Patient Reminders. To enable this license for providers at your site, please refer to this guide on how to Enable a User License for Patient Messages & Reminders
  • The Ocean Platform also supports dedicated Referral Reminders for clinics receiving Ocean eReferrals. Ocean sites can trigger Patient Reminders from eReferrals or their EMR schedule, but not both. To learn more about Referral Reminders, please refer to: Set Up Automated Referral Appointment Reminders.  

What are Patient Reminders?

Patient Reminders are automated messages that are scheduled to send before or after a patient's booked appointment. You can notify patients of their upcoming appointments, request confirmation, include secure messages/PHI, and invite them to complete forms and questionnaires online, without the risks of traditional email. With Ocean’s EMR integration, patient records are seamlessly updated without any scanning, typing, or manual staff involvement.

Key Benefits

  • Easy for Patients - Patients are not required to create an account or log into a patient portal in order to confirm their appointment and or complete Ocean eForms.

  • EMR-integrated - Ocean automatically checks the EMR schedule to identify which appointments match the trigger criteria for each reminder rule and sends a message accordingly. When a patient confirms an appointment, the status is automatically updated in the EMR, along with any completed Ocean eForms.

  • Customizable - You can customize the reminder rule criteria (e.g. by provider, appointment type and/or reason, age) to define the patients that should receive a given reminder.  The email template for the reminder is also customizable.

How it works for patients:

  1. Patient receives an email from Ocean containing the secure message.

    • The secure message is sent on behalf of your clinic to the patient. You are able to customize the email subject and body to convey important pre-visit information.
  2. Patient proceeds to validation step.

    • If you enabled appointment confirmation or attached forms for the patient to complete, the patient should be directed to click on the hyperlink. This will take them to a webpage that asks them to validate their information before proceeding.
    • By default, Ocean will ask for the date of birth but you can enable other questions for additional security like health number, EMR ID, or a pre-determined access password. Ocean will use this information to check against the chart and ensure this patient is the correct recipient for the secure message.

    • Once the patient completes the validation step, they will be notified that their appointment has been confirmed. If you included any eForms in the email template, the patient will have the opportunity to complete them now.

      The appointment status will be updated to 'confirmed' in your EMR.

To learn more about setting up your reminder rules, please refer to "Creating / Configuring Patient Reminders".

To learn more about the product, please refer to "Patient Reminders Features".


Patient Reminders Dashboard

  • Login to the Ocean Portal, click Menu and navigate to the Patient Reminders view. See below for a description of the Patient Reminders Dashboard.

1 Reminders Configuration
A summary of your global settings. Only Ocean Administrative users can change these settings.
2 Sent Reminders History
A summary of Ocean Reminders sent in the past 7 days. For a full log of your Ocean Reminders, click Download Log

Patient Reminders Settings

Note: You must be an Ocean administrative user to access Patient Reminders settings.

  • From the Patient Reminders Dashboard, click Settings in the top right corner. 
  • You will be taken to the Patient Reminders Settings page. Read below for a description of each section of this page.
  1. Activation Requirements

  2. A list of prerequisites for Patient Reminders. When all prerequisites have been met, proceed to editing your reminder settings. 

  3. Reminders Configuration

    • A summary of your global settings will appear. Click Edit Configuration to change these settings.

  4. 1 Enable Reminders
    If enabled, the system will begin sending out Patient Reminders on schedule.
    2 Test Mode

    If enabled, the system will send Patient Reminders on schedule, but using a designated (test) email address. This allows you to test your Patient Reminder settings for a period of time without emailing actual patients. Please refer to Testing Patient Reminders.

    Test Mode Email - With Test Mode enabled, Ocean will send reminders to this designated email address.

    3 Appointment Source
    Reminders can run from your EMR Schedule, or from Ocean eReferrals. To learn more about Ocean Reminders for eReferrals, refer to: Set Up Automated Referral Appointment Reminders.
    4 Time of Day
    The time of day when your reminder rule(s) will run. If you have multiple reminder rules, Ocean will take some time to send out patient reminders (therefore, patients may receive these reminders after the set ‘Time of Day’.
    Note for Accuro users with more than 3 rules: Due to a unique configuration between Ocean and Accuro, we recommend setting the 'Reminder Time of Day' for early in the morning (e.g. 6 AM) if you have more than 3 reminders. If you have more than 10 reminders, it is recommended that you set all reminders to be sent at least 2 days in advance.
    5 Appointment Confirmation
    If enabled, patients can confirm their upcoming appointments through the secure message area of their reminders. For more info see: Enabling Appointment Confirmation from Patient Reminders
    6Save
    Click the Save button to save your changes.
  5. Reminder Rules

  6. On the Reminders Settings page, a summary of Reminder Rules will appear under the Reminder Rules heading. 
  7. 1 Add Reminder Rule
    Click this button to add a new reminder rule.
    2 Force Send All Reminders
    This allows you to send all reminders immediately (usually for test purposes).
    3 Reminder Rule
    A summary of each reminder rule for your site.
    4 Force Send
    This allows you to send the reminder immediately (usually for test purposes).
    5 Edit
    This allows you to edit an existing reminder.

Edit Reminder Rules

Note: You must be an Ocean administrative user to access Patient Reminders settings.

  • From the Patient Reminders Dashboard, click Settings in the top right corner.
  1. Edit Reminder Rule

    • On the Patient Reminders Settings page, click Add Reminder Rule or Edit on a reminder rule and you will be taken to the Edit Reminder Rule Page.

1Rule Name
Name your reminder rule.
2When should the reminder be sent?
Set the schedule for your reminder rule. Enter the number of days to send the reminder before/after the appointment.

Note: To send a reminder for appointments taking place on the same day, set this value to 0 days before the appointment.

3a.Messaging Template
Select the email template that will be used to email the patient. The email template has full support for Ocean Keywords, such as patient name, etc. [weblink] represents the link that the patient can click to confirm their appointment (if appointment confirmation is enabled), view any secure messages and/or complete any eForms assigned to that template. Any eForms added via the template can also be filled out using the tablet when the patient arrives, even if the patient does not use the link ahead of time.
3b.Messaging Template Preview
A preview of the email template selected in 3a. Please note that you cannot edit your messaging templates here. To edit your messaging templates, please refer to Patient Messaging Templates.

Note: If you have set notifications on the email template (e.g. 'Notify me when viewed'), these email notifications will go to your site's Clinical Administrator / Ocean Support Contact (set in the Admin view, Site Account tab).

4Rule Condition

Enter the condition that must be met for your reminder rule to send.

When entering values form your EMR, copy and paste the titles directly from your EMR. Please refer to "Managing Appointment Type / Reason for Visit for Reminders" for details on how to set appointment type(s) in your EMR. If using JavaScript expressions, please refer to Reminder Rules - Using Javascript Conditions.

Reason:
By selecting this rule type, you can type in an appointment reason, as it appears in Accuro, PS Suite or Med Access (e.g. Specialist Consult).
Type:

By selecting this rule type, you can type in an appointment type, as it appears in Accuro (e.g. NP).

Note: Not supported for PS Suite or Med Access. Please use "Reason" instead.
Reason & Type:

By selecting this rule type, you can type in both an appointment reason and type, in the boxes that appear. Ensure that what you type in exactly matches what is in Accuro.

Note: Not supported for PS Suite or Med Access. Please use "Reason" instead.
JavaScript:

By selecting this rule type, you can customize your reminder audience with more precision.

For more information and further examples, refer to the article "Reminder Rules - Using Javascript Conditions".

3Save
Save your changes.
4 Cancel
Cancel any changes made to your reminder rule.

Creating / Configuring Patient Reminders

Note: You must be an Ocean administrative user to access Patient Reminders settings.

    • You can customize your automated Patient Reminders by logging into the Ocean Portal. Click the "Menu" button in the top left corner and select "Patient Reminders".
    • Click the "Settings" button in the top right corner.
    • Click "Add Reminder Rule" or "Edit" next to an existing reminder rule to configure your reminder.
    • Clicking either option will bring you to the "New Reminder Rule" or "Edit Reminder Rule" page. Refer to Edit Reminder Rules for a detailed description of each setting.
    • Under the Rule Conditions heading, you can configure your rule type. Please refer to Managing Appointment Type / Reason for Visit for Reminders for details on how to retrieve/set appointment type(s) in your EMR.

       

      Appointment Reason:
      By selecting this rule type, you can type in an appointment reason, as it appears in Accuro, PS Suite or Med Access (e.g. Specialist Consult).
      Visit Type:
      By selecting this rule type, you can type in an appointment type, as it appears in Accuro (e.g. NP).

      Note: Not supported for PS Suite or Med Access. Please use "Reason" instead.

      For Accuro Users: you can type in both an appointment reason and type, in the boxes that appear. Ensure that what you type in exactly matches what is in Accuro.

      JavaScript Expression:
      By selecting this rule type, you can customize your reminder audience with more precision.
      For more information and further examples, refer to this article to Reminder Rules - Using Javascript Conditions.

Managing Appointment Type / Reason for Visit for Reminders

Patient Reminders uses appointment types or reason for visit to determine who and what to send automated reminder emails to. You can customize your appointment types and reasons for visit by following the steps below.

PS Suite Med Access Accuro Other EMR

This feature is currently only available for PS Suite, Med Access and Accuro users.


Enabling Appointment Confirmation from Patient Reminders

When patients are sent Patient Reminder emails, staff can also use this opportunity to have patients confirm their upcoming appointments, which can then be synced back to the EMR.

How to enable appointment confirmations for Patient Reminders

    • Log into the Ocean portal. Click the "Menu" button in the top left corner and select "Patient Reminders".
    • Click "Settings" in the top right corner. On the Patient Reminders Settings page, click the "Edit Configuration".
    • Under the "Appointment Confirmation" heading, use the drop down to select enabled. Remember to Save your changes.
  1. Configure a new Patient Reminder (for details on creating new reminders, please refer to: Edit Reminder Rule)
    If existing reminders are already present, appointment confirmations will automatically be associated with those reminders
    It's recommended to include @apptDate, @apptTime and @providerName keywords. You can still send a template lacking this values, but for patient clarity and continuity, it is recommended your reminder template includes this information.

How patients confirm their appointments via Patient Reminders

Once appointment confirmation has been enabled, Ocean will include the following line at the bottom of the email message patients receive:

Please click on the link below to confirm your appointment:
Confirm Appointment

  • After verifying their date of birth, the patient will be presented with a screen confirming their most recent upcoming appointment date, time, and provider. Simply by viewing this message, the appointment is now confirmed.

  • If the reminder email also contains a secure message and/or Ocean eForms to complete, the patient can proceed by clicking "Next" to access those additional materials.

Behind the scenes, Ocean syncs the confirmation back to the EMR and updates the patient's appointment status in the schedule.


Reminder Rules - Using Javascript Conditions

Clinics can create Reminder Rules to send reminders to a sub-set of patients based on their appointment (provider, type, reason, etc) or certain demographics (age, gender, etc). 

For complex Reminder Rules, you can find some guidance on using JavaScript conditions to create a rules to suit your needs below.   For example:

"We only want to send a reminder to patients of a specific provider."

"We want to exclude virtual visit patients from receiving reminders with COVID screening."

"We want to send reminders to all patients except for patients of Providers A or B."

"We want to send reminders to any patients of Providers A or B."

"We want to send a reminder to all patients scheduled for an appointment that has a specific word or phrase in the Reason for Visit field."

Below, you can learn more about how you can configure your reminders to accommodate some of the situations above. Do you have another creative trigger to automate reminders for certain patients? Tell us about it!

1. Specifying a subset of patients using keywords

You can use keywords as a filter to only send reminders to patient appointments that meet that specific criteria. The most common criteria can be triggered using ScriptPatient functions and ScriptUtil functions. These functions are formulated as follows:

Object.function('relevant keyword') == 'value that meets the specific criteria

For "Object.function", select between ScriptPatient functions or ScriptUtil functions. 

For "relevant keyword", use Ocean keywords

For "value that meets the specific criteria", you will need to enter the exact text value. If this is a value from your EMR (e.g. appointment type or reason for visit), it is recommended you copy and paste it directly from your EMR to avoid typographic errors.

Provider names and appointment types can sometimes be returned inconsistently from EMRs. We use .includes instead of an exact match (==) as a catch all to cover these cases. 

Action Rule
Send reminder for appointments of provider A only.
ScriptUtil.getKeyword("@providerName").includes("Provider A")
Copy Rule
Send reminder only for patients over the age of 55.
pt.getAge() > 55
Copy Rule
Send reminder only for female patients.
pt.isFemale()
Copy Rule

2. Excluding a subset of patients from a Type or Reason

If you only want some patients within an Appointment Type or Reason to receive the reminder, you can 'filter out' patients using the following approach:

!ScriptUtil.getKeyword("the field that you want to use as the filter").includes("the value you wanted to filter out")

For "the value you wanted to filter out", you will need to enter the exact text value that appears in your EMR.  (It is recommended you copy and paste it to avoid typographic errors.)

 

Action Rule
Send reminder for all appointments types except 'Tele/E-Visit'.
!ScriptUtil.getKeyword("@ptReasonForVisit").includes("Tele/E-Visit")
Copy Rule
Send reminder for appointments for all providers except 'Provider A'.
!ScriptUtil.getKeyword("@providerName").includes("Provider A")
Copy Rule

3. Including patients that meet one of multiple criteria

You may wish to set a single reminder rule that will be sent for any appointment that meets any one of several criteria. Your first step is to determine the criteria that needs to be met in order for the reminder rule to trigger. You can use the 'or' operand || (two parallel bars), or the 'and' && (two ampersands) within the Javascript condition to specify your condition. Use 'or' to trigger the reminder if any of the conditions apply. Use 'and' to trigger the reminder if all conditions apply.

Action Rule
Send reminder for "Tele/E-Visit" OR "In-Person" appointments.
ScriptUtil.getKeyword('@ptReasonForVisit').includes ('Tele/E-Visit') || ScriptUtil.getKeyword('@ptReasonForVisit').includes('In-Person')
Copy Rule
Send reminder only for patients of Providers "A", "B" OR "C".
ScriptUtil.getKeyword('@providerName').includes('Provider A') || ScriptUtil.getKeyword('@providerName').includes('Provider B') || ScriptUtil.getKeyword('@providerName').includes('Provider C')
Copy Rule
Send reminder for all appointment types except "Tele/E-Visit" AND "In-Person" appointments.
!ScriptUtil.getKeyword('@ptReasonForVisit').includes ('Tele/E-Visit') && !ScriptUtil.getKeyword('@ptReasonForVisit').includes('In-Person')
Copy Rule
Send reminder only for patients of Provider "A" AND an appointment type of "Tele/E-Visit" .
ScriptUtil.getKeyword('@providerName').includes('Provider A') && ScriptUtil.getKeyword('@ptReasonForVisit').includes('Tele/E-Visit')
Copy Rule

4.  Including all appointments types or reasons for visit that contain a given text or phrase

In some cases, you may have many Appointment Types or Reasons for Visit that have common name components (e.g. 'virtual visit), but are each unique.  In some scenarios, you may want to send a reminder to all the patients that have any one of the Appointment Types or Reasons that share the common name component.  You can avoid having to create a separate reminder rule for each one and instead you can create a reminder rule that performs a partial string match (triggering for all appointment types that include a certain word or phrase).  In this case, the partial string you want to match is the common name component.   The formula below shows how a partial string match is performed:

ScriptUtil.getKeyword('@ptReasonForVisit').includes('partial string')

where the 'partial string' is the common name component of all the Appointment Types or Reason For Visits that you want to include in the reminder rule.

Action Rule
Send reminder for all appointment types with "virtual visit" in the title.
ScriptUtil.getKeyword('@ptReasonForVisit').includes('virtual visit')
Copy Rule
Send reminder for all appointment types with "virtual visit" OR "/vv" in the title.
ScriptUtil.getKeyword('@ptReasonForVisit').includes('virtual visit') || ScriptUtil.getKeyword('@ptReasonForVisit').includes('/vv')
Copy Rule

Test your Reminders

When creating a new reminder rule, especially one that involves custom JavaScripts like the examples above, it's always a good idea to run a test to ensure the script runs as desired. Learn more about Testing Reminders.


Testing Patient Reminders

Prerequisites

To test Reminders, ensure your reminders are in Test Mode. This will ensure Ocean sends reminders to a test email address, instead of real patients.

Follow the steps below to enable Test Mode:

  • Login to the Ocean Portal. Click the Menu button and select Patient Reminders. Click Settings in the top right corner. Under the summary of your Patient Reminder Settings, click Edit Configuration.
  • Ensure you've configured all of your Patient Reminder settings. Under the Test Mode heading, ensure you've selected enabled from the drop down menu. Under the Test Mode Email, ensure you've entered an email to receive your test reminders. 

When testing your reminders, please ensure you have at least one appointment booked in your EMR that meets the reminder rule(s) criteria. We recommend doing this with a test patient first. If you are booking appointments in your EMR right away, keep in mind that Ocean syncs with your EMR every 30 minutes and therefore it may not recognize the newly created appointment right away. To trigger a manual sync, navigate to the Patients view in the Ocean Portal and click Synchronize Appointments under the Actions menu in the left side bar.

To directly test the reminder, click Force Send for that reminder rule. Ocean will process that reminder (it will look for appointments in your EMR that follow that reminder criteria), and with Test Mode on, it will simply redirect the emails to the Test Email address.

Note: If you have included eForms in your reminder email template, these eForms will be added to the patients queue to complete. This allows you to fully test the flow of receiving a reminder email, reviewing any secure messages and completing any eForms as a patient in order to see how the notes will appear in the patients chart. If you'd like to remove these eForms from the patients queue, navigate to the Patients view in the Ocean Portal and click on the patient. All eForms in their queue will appear with an option to delete (red icon).  

To test your reminders passively, ensure that the 'Enable Reminders' and 'Test Mode' settings are enabled. Each day, Ocean will automatically send reminder emails based on the time set under the Time of Day field, as long as matching appointments are found in the EMR that meet your rule criteria.