Patient Reminders FAQ
- Med Access: Does Ocean send reminders to 'Confidential' appointments?
- How are iCal files used with Patient Reminders?
- Med Access: Which Cell Number does Ocean use for Text Message Reminders?
- Can I run a report listing the reminders sent and which patients have confirmed their appointments?
- Can I send automated reminders to patients with overdue responses (i.e. when the appointment is not confirmed)?
- If a patient has two appointments on the same day, how many reminders will be sent?
- Is it possible to set a single reminder rule to be sent out at different intervals before the appointment (e.g. 7, 3 and 1 day prior)?
- How can I manage text message consent?
- How can patients opt out of receiving text messages from Ocean?
- Can I get a report of my Patient Reminders?
What is an iCal file?
An iCal file is a computer file that allows internet users to send meeting invitations to one another over email.
iCal Files in Reminders
- By default, Reminder Rules in Ocean automatically include an iCal calendar event file in the reminder email sent to patients. This allows patients to easily add their appointment to the calendar application of their choice.
- An example of how the iCal attachment will appear in the email can be seen by expanding the image on the right.
Can I disable this feature?
- Yes, you can disable this feature by editing your Reminder Rule(s) and unchecking the 'Include iCal calendar event file in email reminder' checkbox.
- You can re-enable it at any time by re-checking the box.
What time zone do iCal events use?
Most often, iCal event times are displayed accurately using the time zone configured in the recipient's email client or device settings. This means that the event times are automatically adjusted by the recipient's email client to reflect the time zone that has been selected in the email client or device settings.
Time Zone Misconfiguration
If a patient's email client or device time zone setting is misconfigured (i.e., set to an improper time zone), the iCal time will also be automatically converted into the improper time zone, which can result in confusion for patients.
To prevent confusion, we recommend including Ocean's appointment date and time keywords (@apptDate and @apptTime) in the email body. These keywords pull data directly from your EMR and are not affected by timezones or iCal offsets.
Additionally, you may consider disabling the iCal functionality on each of your Reminder Rules if you find that this issue is occurring frequently.
Med Access has the ability to store multiple mobile numbers in the Phone List of a patient's chart (e.g. "Personal - Cell", "Work - Cell", "Home - Cell").
For Text Message Reminders, Ocean will send a text message to the first "Cell" number in the Phone List and send an email to the last email address in the Phone List. If a patient denies text message consent, we recommend storing the mobile number as a different Phone Type 'Group' (e.g. "Home - Phone", "Work - Phone" or "Other").
The image below shows that the first "Cell" number will receive the Text Message Reminder, and that the last email address will receive the email.
Important Note about Multiple "Cell" Type Phone Numbers
Please note that when a patient chart has multiple "Cell" type phone numbers, it is important to distinguish the proper phone number which should have Text Messages reminders sent to it. This is done within Med Access by specifying the Sequence Number for each phone number, as shown below.
- Open the patient's chart and navigate to the Demographics tab. Under the "Address & Phone" section, select Phone List.
- Opening the Phone List displays the list of all phone numbers and emails. To view the Sequence Number for a listed number, press the Edit icon on the right hand side. This will open the Update Phone window.
- Within the Update Phone window, the Sequence Number for the phone number you selected can be seen in the bottom right corner.
- Ensure that the Sequence Number for the specific Cell type number that you would like Text Message Reminders to send to is lower than the Sequence Number for any other Cell type numbers. Ocean will send the Text Message Reminder to the Cell type number with the lowest Sequence Number.
- For example, if a patient has a listed "Personal - Cell" with the Sequence Number of "1", while their "Work - Cell" has a Sequence Number of "2" (or greater), Ocean will send the Text Message Reminder to the "Personal - Cell" number, since it has a lower Sequence Number.
Ocean offers several 'canned' reports that can give you insight into how many patients are receiving reminders and confirming appointments. They provide record level data that can be exported for analysis. You can access them by logging into the Ocean Portal, clicking on the "Menu" button in the top left corner and selecting "Admin". From the Admin Settings page, click "Reports"
Reports available for Patient Reminders:
Reminder sent - Patients that received a reminder email (whether or not the appointment confirmation feature was enabled)
Reminder appointment confirmed - Patients that confirmed an appointment (only applicable if the reminder rule(s) have the 'appointment confirmation' feature enabled)
Can I send automated reminders to patients with overdue responses (i.e. when the appointment is not confirmed)?
If a patient meets the criteria for multiple reminder rules, Ocean will send the reminders for each of these rules. Therefore, if two appointments are booked for the patient that day and the clinic has configured a reminder rule for each appointment, the patient will receive two reminders.
Including the reason for visit, appointment date and time (@apptDate, @apptTime) and provider name (@providerName) in the email template will assist the patient to distinguish between the two reminders.
Ocean Reminders can't combine multiple appointment reminders in one email for appointments that fall on the same day.
Is it possible to set a single reminder rule to be sent out at different intervals before the appointment (e.g. 7, 3 and 1 day prior)?
You can create a different reminder rule for each reminder schedule (e.g. 7, 3 and 1 day before the appointment). This can be helpful for clinics that need to send different reminder email templates (and eForms) a number of days before the patient's appointment.
To review how to create/configure a reminder, please refer to Creating / Configuring Patient Reminders.
Will patients receive multiple reminders?
Patients will receive all reminders, regardless of whether they have confirmed their appointment. Following the example above, if a patient confirms their appointment at the 7-day reminder, they will still receive the 3-day and 1-day reminder emails.
Collecting text message consent
Ocean eForms offer an easy way to capture consent via email or on tablets. Update any existing consent eForms to collect text message consent. You can easily create a new eForm indicating the use of text messages for patient reminders and include a field for patients to provide or update their mobile number directly in their EMR chart. Ocean offers a core form in the eForm library titled Text Messaging Consent (SMS Consent).
Consent can also be captured verbally with the patient in-person or over the phone.
Clinics collecting consent for text messages can use the Text Messaging Consent (SMS Consent) eForm. Staff can review form submissions and can include text in the comments field of a patients chart such as "smsc" for patients who have consented to receiving text message reminders. Sites can then create a reminder rule to trigger text message reminders only for patients who have provided consent.
Managing mobile number
Ocean automatically uses the number in the mobile number field of a patient's chart in your EMR. If a patient refuses text message consent, we recommend storing their mobile number in a different area of their chart to prevent Ocean from sending text messages to that number.
For Med Access users
Med Access has the ability to store multiple mobile numbers in the Phone List of a patient's chart (e.g. "Personal - Cell", "Work - Cell", "Home - Cell"). Ocean will send a text message to the first telephone number in the Phone List and email the last email address in the Phone List. If a patient denies text message consent, we recommend storing the mobile number as a different Phone Type 'Group' (e.g. "Home - Phone", "Work - Phone" or "Other").
Patients can easily opt out of receiving text messages from Ocean. Learn more: How can patients opt out of receiving text messages from Ocean?
Text messages sent by Ocean will include the option: "Text END to opt out."
- If a patient texts END to opt out, they will receive the following message: "You have opted out of receiving text messages from any clinic that uses the Ocean Platform. Text START to opt in. Message & Data rates may apply."
If a patient opts out of receiving text messages through Ocean, their mobile number will automatically be added to a global opt out list. Immediately after opt out, patient's will also have the ability to opt back in.
Please be aware that Ocean will apply all patient opt-outs globally for text message reminders. This means that a patient who opts out of receiving text message reminders from one clinic using Ocean will not receive text message reminders from any other clinics using Ocean.
Patients who have opted out of receiving text messages through Ocean will not generate a per message charge.
Patients must respond to the same phone number they replied with their opt out. If a patient deletes the original opt out message and wants to opt back in or if they have a recycled number that initially opted out, they must opt back in by texting START to (647) 905-9789.
- If a patient texts HELP, they will receive the following message: "Visit https://www.oceanhealth.ca/ for more information. Text END to opt out from receiving text message reminders from the Ocean Platform. Message & Data rates may apply."
Patient Reminders logs contain a history of every reminder sent to your patients within the past 2 weeks.
Note: You must be an Ocean Administrative User to access Patient Reminder logs.
- Login to the Ocean Portal. Click the "Menu" button in the top left corner and select "Patient Reminders".
- Ocean successfully sent the reminder to the email host or SMS text messaging provider. Please note that a sent status doesn't necessarily mean that your patient has received the reminder. There may be delays/issues with the email host/SMS text message provider which may result in patients not receiving their reminder.
- Our SMS text message service provider received confirmation of message delivery from the carrier. Please note that Ocean can't confirm the delivery of emails at this time.
- Ocean was not able to send the reminder off to the email host or SMS text messaging provider. See the Description column for details.
SMS Send Status Description
- Phone number failed validation
- The number listed in the patient's chart failed our validation for legitimate phone numbers.
- Phone number opted out for SMS
- The patient opted out of receiving SMS text messages from the Ocean Platform.
- Maximum SMS character length exceeded with siteName length of ... and providerName length of...
- Your organization name/ site name and provider name have exceeded the character limit for SMS. Shorten your organization name.
- Message body contains invalid SMS characters
- Please check your organization name/site name and provider name for any non-GSM-7 characters. You can edit your organization name in Ocean and you can edit your schedule name directly in your EMR.
- Unable to create SMS message in Twilio
- An error occurred when sending the SMS text message through our SMS text message service provider.
Email Send Status Description
- Missing email address
- Patient did not have an email address in their chart.
- Invalid email address
- The email listed in the patient's chart failed our validation as a legitimate email address.