The SMS module is feature rich and allows you to send automatic appointment SMS reminders to patients. With custom templates available, the SMS reminders allow patients to have a quick and easy reminder of their upcoming appointment and gives them the ability to reply and notify you via an SMS, rather than a phone call.
Before you begin
Before you commence using the SMS reminder system within Genie it’s worthwhile taking the time to discuss exactly what the practice is wishing to achieve with utilising the system. Does each provider want SMS reminders sent to their patients or do only some providers wish to? Do you want to have more control over when messages are sent and as such send these manually or would you like the peace of mind that comes with having these automatically configured to send at your chosen date and time?
If you would prefer to send your patient reminders by email instead of SMS, please see the Email Reminders section of Emailing Correspondence.
In order to send SMS reminders, you will need to have SMS credits available and applied to your GEN number. You can check whether your practice already has SMS credits by following the below instructions.
- From the Appointment book navigate to Appts > SMS Reminders
- In the top right hand corner, the Credits Remaining should be displayed in red text
Note: You may be checking your SMS Credits for the first time and have some available, however have not purchased these. All sites are given 20 free SMS Credits when installed to allow them to trial the SMS module.
If you don't have any credits available or you would like to purchase some more you can do so by accessing our website directly from an internet browser or by navigating to there through Genie.
Purchase credits through Genie
- Navigate to Special > Purchase SMS Credits OR go to Appts > SMS Reminders and select Purchase SMS Reminders.
- This will take you to our website where you can choose Buy SMS Credits.
- Enter in your HIC Location ID (this is in the format of GEN##### and can be found at the top right corner of your appointment book), the email address you would like your purchase confirmation emailed to and the amount of credits you wish to purchase.
Note: Regardless of the payment method that is selected, the credits will be applied to your GEN and available to use immediately after placing the order.
- Select a Payment Method
- Credit Card - enter in the card details
- Cheque - the invoice will be sent to the nominated email address and can be paid within 30 days.
- Direct Deposit - the invoice will be sent to the nominated email address and can be paid within 30 days.
- Confirm that the details entered are correct and select Place Order
- The invoice or receipt will be emailed to the nominated email address and the credits should now be available.
Sometimes people get caught off guard and their SMS reminders stop sending due to insufficient credits. To alleviate the chances of this happening, you can enable a task to get sent to a specific user when the credits are below a specified amount. This feature will be especially important to your practice if you are sending your SMS reminders automatically. This warning feature can be enabled by following the below instructions:
- Go to Appts > SMS Reminders > Setup.
- At the top of this window, under the Credits section, you should have a preference, Send a task to XXX when credits drop below:
- Enter the credit value at which you wish to be warned.
- Save out of the window. You will now be warned when your credits fall below this number.
Note: If you are running Genie v9.3.4 and above, you can specify who should receive the Low Credit Warning task. If you are running Genie v9.3.3 or below, this task will send to the Administrator of Genie.
For this credit limit we suggest determining an average amount of reminders you would send per day and then multiplying by 3 to give you enough credits for 3 days. This will allow the task to be generated for the Administrator while giving them a few days to purchase additional credits before they are all used and no further reminders can be sent.
One of the features of the SMS module is the ability to have individual SMS templates configured for each provider. For example, if one provider wishes to include the address of the clinic in their reminders, but another provider does not wish to you can create individual reminder templates for each provider to ensure their messages appear exactly as desired.
The templates you configure within the SMS Setup window are for use with automated reminders and those sent directly from the appointment book. Other areas in Genie that allow you to send SMSs - Recalls, etc. - will present you with a free text area and a default message. For these, we recommend using Macros to quickly add text before sending.
Create a template
Note: It is important to keep in mind that there is a 160 character limit per credit. Please see the Credit Limits section below for more information on exceeding this limit.
- Navigate to Appts > SMS Reminders > SMS Setup;
- Right click the practitioner in the SMS setup window and choose New Template;
- Give the template a name;
- Add in your message to the message box. Currently a default message will display. You can edit this message or delete the content and start afresh if preferred. You can also use fields to automatically input appointment information. They will need to be entered exactly as listed below:
- <name> Populates the name of the provider into the message
- <patientname> populates the patient's Known as or First Name that is listed in their demographics
- <date> Populates the appointment date that the reminder is being sent for
- <room> Populates the Room details that have been selected for the appointment
- <clinic> Populates the name of the clinic that you have logged in to as per your Practice Preferences (File > Practice Preferences)
- <clinicphone> Populates the phone number listed in this clinic's preferences
For example, I enter 'This is to remind you of your appointment with <name> on <date> at <time>. Please reply with Y to confirm or N to cancel.' into the template box.
My patient receives a message that reads: This is to remind you of your appointment with Andrew on 28/06/2019 at 10:00am. Please reply with Y to confirm or N to cancel
- Once you have added the message and the fields, you can also change the Name and Date formats using the drop down menus in this window;
- If you are happy with your message and have viewed the Sample Message, select OK to save the template.
Select a template
- Navigate to Appts > SMS Reminders > Setup
- In the setup window, you should see the practitioners listed that wants reminders sent to their patients and are available in the appointment book
- Right click the practitioner to see the following menu:
Note: When first starting, the only template available will be Default. All templates that get created will be visible when you right click any practitioner.
- Choose the desired template from the list.
- This should now display in the Template column and you should see a sample message displayed to the right when this is highlighted.
Edit a template
If you have created a template with a mistake, or have a template you need to update you can do so be editing the template:
- Right + click any practitioner and hover your mouse over 'Edit Template'
- Choose the template that you wish to edit from the expanded drop down menu
- In the window that appears, you should be able to make the required changes to the template and preview this in the Sample Message space
- Once you have made these changes and you are happy with the sample message, select OK to save.
As discussed in the 'Before you begin' section, if you have some providers and users that do not want SMS reminders sent to their patients, you will need to disable this for the user by following the below instructions:
- Go to File > All User Preferences
- Double click on the user concerned
- Under the General tab, tick the box Do not send SMS reminders for my appointments.
- Save out of the preferences and repeat for any other user not wanting to have reminders sent.
What appointments to send reminders for?
Within the SMS Setup, it is possible to automatically send reminders for both consultation and procedure appointments. Often patients who are having procedures do not require a reminder text message and as such you may wish to configure your preferences to disable reminders for these patients. To do so follow the below instructions:
- Navigate to Appts > SMS Reminders and select the Setup button
- In the bottom half of this window under the 'Reminders' section, you should see 'Send Reminders For:'
- Choose Consultations Only. Now when sending SMS reminders automatically, only those patients who have consultation appointments will receive an SMS reminder.
- Click OK to save.
Records Marked as 'No SMS'
You may have some patients or address book entries that have a mobile number, however do not wish to receive any SMS messages from the practice. If this is the case, you can mark their record as 'No SMS'. Genie will then recognise this and not send an SMS reminder to them.
This tick box is located next to the Mobile field in either the patient's demographic or the address book record. Tick and untick this option at the discretion of the contact.
Once you have configured the required templates and enabled SMS reminders for each user you can begin configuring the sending of these reminders. To simplify the sending process, it is possible to configure Genie to send the reminders automatically. This means your staff don't have to remember to send out the reminders - Genie will remember for you! In order to configure the automatic sending, there are a few steps you need to take.
Choose the computer which will send the reminders
The automatic reminders must be configured to send from a specific machine. This can be any machine at the practice that has Genie Client installed on it or the Genie Server computer. It is important to note that in order for the reminders to be sent Genie must be running at the specified time your reminders are set to go out. As such we recommend that you configure the reminders to send from the Genie Server computer (which, in theory, will always be running during business hours).
To choose the computer, please go to the Setup window and choose the drop down menu next to 'Automatically send SMS Messages from this computer:'. Choose the nominated machine, such as 'Genie Server' or 'Reception', etc.
Choose when the reminders are sent
You will need to decide how many days before the appointment you wish for the patients to receive their reminder text. Once determined you can enter this number into the Setup window and choose your preferred time. By ticking 'the whole day's messages' tickbox Genie will automatically assign a random time between 12PM and 6PM to avoid sites sending their reminders at the same time as other clinics. If the time allocated here is not a suitable time, you can place your cursor into the field and change this manually or untick and retick the box for Genie to assign a new random selection time.
Note: During peak times there may be slight delays as our SMS servers process all of the reminder requests. We suggest choosing a time that is not on the hour (eg 10:18am).
Send Monday's Messages
If you have chosen to send your SMS reminders automatically from a Genie Client machine it is important to keep in mind that this machine may be shutdown over the weekend. If this is the case and your reminders are configured to send 1 day in advance Genie would be unable to send the reminders for Monday as Genie would be closed on Sunday. In order to still allow your reminders to be sent you can configure Genie to send Monday's messages on Friday.
To do this at the bottom of this window, tick the 'Send Monday's Messages on Friday' and select OK to save. Alternatively, as mentioned previously, you could select for your reminders to be sent from the Genie Server computer (most clinics leave this computer running over the weekend and as such the reminders will go out as per usual).
Once you have done the above and chosen the days and time for the reminders to send, select OK to save these preferences. The reminders should now begin sending automatically at the selected time from the designated computer.
Disabling Automatic SMS Messages
To stop your SMS messages sending automatically, navigate to Appts > SMS Reminders > Setup, and untick all the check boxes listed under 'Automatically Send SMS messages from this computer' as seen below:
If your clinic doesn't send reminders for all appointments or if you just want more control over the reminders you can choose to send them manually. Once you have configured the SMS setup, preferences and SMS templates as outlined in the previous pages, you should be ready to send the reminders from Genie.
If you are sending the reminders manually you can do so either on an appointment by appointment basis or on a daily basis.
If you wish to send an individual reminder you can do so by right-clicking on the patient's appointment in the appointment book and choosing SMS Patient'.
Whole day's appointments
If you wish to send reminders for an entire day in the diary you will need to firstly navigate to the desired day in your appointment book. Once you have selected the desired day select Appts > SMS Reminders. A window similar to below will appear:
Select the Providers
Showing on the left hand side will be all providers in Genie that have opted to have reminders sent to their patients. When you open this window, the highlighted provider/s will be determined by the appointment diary you were viewing at the time. If you access the 'All' tab in the appointment book, all providers should be selected by default when you open the SMS window.
If you want to send the reminders out for all or some providers at the same time, you will need to highlight them accordingly (hold down Ctrl/Command on your keyboard and select the desired providers).
Check the patients
Showing in the list should be all patients with an appointment for the selected providers. The patients with a tick in the middle column, are the only patients that meet the criteria to send the reminder. For example, patients that have 'No SMS' ticked or do not have a mobile number recorded, will not be ticked in this window. The 'Notes' column should show you the reason for this.
- Patients with Don't SMS showing in the notes will appear in blue text
- Patients with No mobile recorded showing in the notes will appear in green text
- Patients that are ready to be sent will appear in black text
A handy trick to note is that you are able to double click on the patient from this list to open their demographic window. This will allow you to make changes to their SMS settings, such as number and tick box if required, before sending the messages.
Once you are ready to send the reminders for the selected patients, choose Send at the bottom right of the window.
Long SMS Reminders
Since Genie v8.8.6, you are able to send SMS reminders longer than 160 characters. To send these, ensure that the Limit each SMS to drop-down is set to 2 Credits or more.
How the number of credits used is calculated is outlined below:
|'Simple' SMS||Any reminder that contains up to and including 160 characters|
|'Long' SMS||Any reminder that contains more than 160 characters. Each block of 153 characters, or part thereof, in a long SMS costs 1 credit to send. A 7 character overhead is required by the messaging provider to join the blocks.|
|1-160 characters||1 credit||Simple SMS|
|161-306 characters||2 credits||2 blocks of 153 characters|
|307-459 characters||3 credits||3 blocks of 153 characters|
If your reminders include any non-standard characters that are not part of the Global System for Mobile (GSM) Standard, you will be limited to 70 characters per SMS credit for the first credit. The character limit goes down to 67 if the entire message is more than 1 credit.
|1-70 characters||1 credit||Simple SMS with non-standard characters|
|71-134 characters||2 credits||2 blocks of 67 characters|
|135-201 characters||3 credits||3 blocks of 67 characters|