In this article:
Gentu's SMS messaging system not only allows you to send SMS messages directly to patients, but can also send automatic SMS appointment reminders to your patients' specified mobile phone number. This article will discuss these two methods of sending SMS Messages.
In this page, ad hoc SMS messages is the term used to describe sending a once-off message directly to an individual patient, either via the appointment book or via the patient's Details screen. Automated SMS appointment reminders is the term used to describe Gentu's automatic sending of messages three days prior to an appointment.
Please see our dedicated SMS Settings article for information on enabling and configuring SMS messages in Gentu.
Once you have enabled Automated SMS Appointment Reminders in Settings, Gentu will automatically send an SMS appointment reminder to patients who have a valid mobile phone number recorded in Patient Details.
- You should avoid using any extra characters in the Mobile Phone field to prevent issues with Gentu validating this number.
- It is not recommended that this detail is pasted into Gentu from an external source as this could contain invalid characters that are hidden and cannot be seen.
The SMS reminder message will send three (3) days prior to the date of the patient's appointment. Gentu will begin trying to send messages at 9:00 AM, and will continue to check for new appointments that require a message to be sent every 15 minutes until 5:00 PM.
Please note: All text messages are sent unencrypted. Genie Solutions does not recommend sending sensitive or identifiable information via SMS mesaging.
From the Day view of the Appointment Book, you will be able to see an indication that a patient had an automated SMS appointment reminder sent. This should show Awaiting Reply when the message is first sent, and will display the patient's latest response to the message once a reply has been received. This behavior does not apply to ad hoc SMS messaging.
Note: You will need to refresh the appointment book for new responses to be retrieved and displayed against the appointment.
When messages appear in the Appointment Book, you will also see that they have a status indication against them in the top right corner. There are four variations for these icons, which are explained below.
- A tick in a message bubble indicates that a appointment reminder message has been sent.
- A tick in a calendar indicates that the appointment has been confirmed. This occurs automatically if the patient responds Yes or Y to the reminder SMS.
- The confirmation is set based on the first reply. If subsequent replies are received, the status will not be updated to reflect this. Similarly, if the first response is ambiguous, a later confirmation reply will not update the status.
- If the patient's response is a confirmation but includes additional words or emojis, this will not automatically confirm the appointment.
- A plus in a message bubble indicates that further action is required based on the patient's reply. This will appear for any response that is not a confirmation, including No or N.
- An exclamation point in a message bubble indicates that the message failed to send, and may also have a message on the appointment itself. Opening the SMS History will elaborate on why this may have occurred.
- Messages will attempt to resend every five minutes (up to 5 times) before failing and presenting this icon. If the cause of the failure is due to insufficient SMS credits, these messages will be queued to attempt sending again when new credits are purchased, unless the appointment is scheduled for today's date or a date that has since passed.
If you have turned off the Send SMS Appointment Reminders option in your settings, you will not be able to see the SMS appointment reminders in your appointment book. This will remove all past and future reminders from display, however these will re-appear if you turn the setting back on, and will remain available in the SMS History for the patient.
Once you have enabled SMS Messaging in Settings, you can send an ad hoc SMS message directly to a patient. This can be performed through the Appointment Book or through the patient's Details window.
Appointment Book: From a patient's existing appointment, you can open the appointment details window, and select the SMS button. These messages will not appear on the patient's appointment, unlike automated SMS appointment reminders.
Patient Details: From the patient's Details, you will find an SMS button to the right of the mobile phone number.
Clicking the SMS button from either window will open the patient's SMS History. Your message can be entered in the box at the bottom of this window, and will provide an indication about how many credits will be used to send this message.
- Ad hoc SMS messages will be sent instantly. You will need to close and re-open the SMS History window in order to view an ad hoc message that was recently sent.
- If an ad hoc SMS messages fails to send due to insufficient credits, these messages will be entered into a queue and will be sent when credits are available. These messages will not be aborted by Gentu, as the context of an ad hoc SMS message is not known.
Please note: All text messages are sent unencrypted. Genie Solutions does not recommend sending personal information via SMS.
Patient SMS history
If a patient has previously received an ad hoc or reminder SMS, this will be captured in their SMS history.
You can view a patient's SMS history by:
- Opening an appointment for that patient and clicking the SMS button, or
- Clicking the SMS button in Patient Details.
Please note that the SMS history was introduced at the end of August 2019, and will not display SMS messages prior to this.
The SMS history window is displayed in a conversation-style thread, with older messages at the top of the window and more recent ones at the bottom.
- Messages from your practice will appear on the left side of this window in a grey bubble.
- Messages from the patient will appear on the right side of the window in a teal bubble.
Every message in the SMS History will display a timestamp to indicate when it was sent.
If the message was sent today, there will not be a date against the message, only a timestamp.
Messages sent yesterday will show the timestamp and the word Yesterday, and older messages will include a date.
If the message was sent automatically, the message will be marked with the words Appointment Reminder before the date and timestamp.
|Today's SMS||Yesterday's SMS||Older SMS (Automatic)|
If you have disabled the Enable SMS option in your settings, you will not see the new message input box in the SMS history.
The window will also have a blue notice at the top of the window to advise that Ad hoc SMS is not enabled, however all SMS history will remain present.
|Ad hoc SMS enabled||Ad hoc SMS disabled|
> When does Gentu send out SMS appointment reminders?
Gentu sends out SMS appointment reminders 3 days prior to a patient's booked appointment date.
> What kinds of bookings will Gentu send automated SMS reminders for?
Gentu will only send SMS reminders for appointment bookings. It will not send SMS reminders for procedures. Gentu does not support SMS messages for recalls at the present time.
> Can I print a report showing all SMS reminders sent to my patients?
Yes, you can do so by selecting Print > SMS Report from the Appointment Book. For more information, see this article. Please note that you will need to have enabled Automated SMS Reminders in order to view the SMS Report.
> What if a patient doesn't have a mobile phone number recorded?
If the patient has no mobile phone number recorded, Gentu will not send them an automated SMS reminder message for their appointment. It will also not be possible to send an ad hoc message to this patient.
> How can I change the content of the SMS appointment reminder message that patients receive/how can I change the SMS appointment reminder message template?
The automated SMS appointment reminder message is fixed and cannot be changed at this time. You can view an example of how the SMS message will appear to patients of your practice by checking in Settings > SMS Reminders. The template includes the patient's appointment date and time, the practitioner they are booked in to see, and the name and contact phone number of your practice. As of the end of August 2019, messages will also include instructions for the patient to respond to the message with a "Y" for confirmation.
Note that the details here pull from the Settings and User/Practice Preferences of Gentu; so if you wish to change (for example) the phone number which is sent in the SMS message, you will need to update Settings > Practice Details with the correct information.
> What if I don't have enough credits to send automated SMS appointment reminders to every patient with an appointment booked?
If you do not have enough credits to send a message to every patient for a particular day, Gentu will send as many SMS messages as it can (in sequential order by appointment time). Once all credits have been used, Gentu will stop sending SMS messages and will display the error text Insufficient SMS credits within the appointment booking itself.
> How do I know if I have run out of credits?
You can check your credit balance at any time by navigating to Settings > SMS Credits. This window will display the number of credits remaining as of a certain date and time, and reloading the page will update these details, ensuring you can always remain informed about your credit balance.
If Gentu has failed to send an automated appointment reminder message due to insufficient credits, the error text Insufficient SMS credits will be displayed within the appointment booking itself.
> Gentu is telling me "The phone number you have entered is not valid". What do I do?
Gentu will present you with this error message if the patient's phone number was entered incorrectly. In this case, please check the phone number and ensure it has been entered correctly: Gentu expects the phone number to be 10 digits only, with no alphabetic characters. It is not necessary to add the country code - for this reason it is also not possible to send an SMS message to a non-Australian mobile phone number.
> My patient(s) did not receive their automated SMS appointment reminder message. Why not?
There are a few reasons that could explain why a patient might not receive their SMS appointment reminder message:
- The patient's mobile number isn't recorded correctly or contains invalid characters.
- The patient has the "Do not SMS" checkbox ticked within Patient Details.
- The patient is booked in for a Procedure (rather than an Appointment).
- The patient's appointment was booked in after the reminder cut-off date (which is 3 days prior to the date of the appointment).
- The patient's appointment has a status of "Cancelled".
- The patient's mobile phone service provider is experiencing outages.
A good thing to do is to check if you can see the patient's name in the SMS Report. If you cannot see the patient's name in the SMS Report, it means that Gentu has not sent a message out to that patient.
If you are unsure, please contact Gentu Support for further assistance.
> I booked an appointment after the cut-off date for the reminder to be sent. Will they still receive a reminder?
In short, yes.
Gentu will retrospectively check within the 7-day period leading up to a certain date.
If it finds any appointments without an SMS already sent; and the patient is not marked as Do Not SMS, it will send a reminder for that appointment.
> I have moved or changed a patient's appointment. Will they still receive a reminder?