Improvements to SMS messaging

We have just released a few improvements for SMS messaging.

New SMS Provider

Unfortunately SMS sending is a complicated matter.  Over time we have found that our current provider was not at the reliability level we require.  We have just changed providers and are now using what we believe to be the best available.  This should mean higher deliverability rates (worldwide), but also the ability to handle patient replies better in more countries (particularly handling patient replies in New Zealand which was unreliable previously).

The only really noticable change you will see is that SMS messages will no longer be sent from the same number on your behalf.  We now use a rotisserie system so that each message we send on your behalf can come from a variety of numbers.  You may want to let you patients know not to rely on it always being the same number or just make sure you identify yourself in your messages.

This is a big change for us and we believe it's going to be very beneficial for you all.  There is of course no change in price to SMS messages for you.

You can now send longer messages

Previously you were limited to sending messages that were 160 characters or less.  This is no longer the case.  You can now send messages of any length.  This is useful for those of you wanting to provide more information in your appointment reminders (eg. cancellation policy).

Note: Sending messages greater than 160 characters in length will cost more SMS credits.  You will be charged 1 SMS credit per 160 characters or part thereof.  For example, a 200 character message would cost 2 SMS credits.

Send one off SMS message to a specific patient via Cliniko

You can now send a one-off SMS message to a specific patient via Cliniko.  This means you can quickly send a text message without doing so from your own phone.  The patient will receive the message from a Cliniko phone number and the correspondance will be tracked by Cliniko in the communications page.

This can be done from the patients page.

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Comments

  • Avatar
    Jonathan Lubetzky

    Great feature guys! It just gets better and better.

    Are you able to include a "character counter" so we know when we reach 160, 320...... etc. 

    Cheers

    Jonathan

  • Avatar
    Jonathan Lubetzky

    A character counter would also be useful in the settings tab - appointment reminder for SMS reminders

    Thanks

    Jonathan

  • Avatar
    Dennis J

    Hi Joel,

    There are some great improvements, great job! Will the change affect clients' ability to respond to SMS reminders/messages? For example, will SMS messages to any of these rotating numbers be forwarded to me, so that clients can save whatever 'new' number shows on their screen as a SMS-only number for me?

    Regards,

    Dennis

     

     

     

     

  • Avatar
    Sali Davis

    This is great, makes it easier when patients have their phones turned off or no voicemail to send a quick message.

     

    Thanks  Sali

  • Avatar
    Joel Friedlaender

    @Jonathan, we do have a counter of sorts in Settings > Appointment Reminders.  It will show approximate number of credits to be used (as it uses placeholders, we don't know exactly how many until the message is sent).  We are conservative in our estimate though, so we expect it to use the same or less than we guess.  As for the patient one-off page, we'll get a counter added there.

    @Dennis, they can still reply just fine, in fact it should be more reliable in more countries now.  It's best if they don't "save" the number, just reply to any specific message they need to.  Over time they'll get messages from multiple numbers, they're best just to reply to the most recent.

    @Sali, thanks for letting us know!

  • Avatar
    Ian Lawson

    Can you add a way to create group messages? ie. the same message goes to multiple recipients, much like sending a text message on your phone?

    We do group classes (pilates, yoga, etc) and at the moment pay $30/mth to have a prepaid mobile phone which we use to send confirmation texts for classes (since group bookings thru Cliniko aren't up and running yet). We can use this new one-off SMS sending feature to send confirmation texts to these people rather than paying for the prepaid mobile, but being able to do a group message and selecting all the people booked in for that particular class would make life much simpler.

    Either that or if group bookings were up and running soon with automated confirmation texts/emails that would be an even better solution.... ;-)

  • Avatar
    Joel Friedlaender

    @Ian, we're planning group messages but more to message all your patients, or a decent subset anyway, not so much for classes.  We are getting much closer on classes though, I hope to start working on it within 2 weeks.

  • Avatar
    Ian Lawson

    Sounds good. Looking forward to it (both the group classes and the group messages). I'll start hassling again in about 2 weeks then, shall I? :-)

    Thanks Joel.

  • Avatar
    Head2toe Health

    OH WOW! This is so awesome! Thank you guys! 

     

  • Avatar
    Ian Lawson

    Were you planning to put the character counter on the message?

    Also, ability to go straight to sending the patient an SMS from their pop-up screen on the appointment book, rather than needing to go into their patient page. Just saves one step when you want to send a quick message to patients already in the book regarding that appointment.

  • Avatar
    Ian Lawson

    ....ie. link the mobile number to send an SMS screen, just like you've linked their email address on this pop-up tab to go straight to the default email sending programme.

  • Avatar
    Joel Friedlaender

    Great suggestion Ian, and yes we're planning on a character count still.

  • Avatar
    Head2toe Health

    Hi Joel, can you confirm for me, when we send an sms from the clients' details screen that if we send under 160 characters the cost is 1sms credit, and over is 2 sms credits? Also if they reply to us as with the replies to the confirmations, that it's one sms to send to them, one sms reply cost and one sms to us (if we have it forwarded). Just wanting to clarify.

     

    Thanks.

    Simone @ Head2Toe

  • Avatar
    Joel Friedlaender

    Hi Simone,

    It's 1 credit per 160 characters.  So:

    • A message less than or equal to 160 characters will be 1 credit
    • A message over 160 characters but less than or equal to 320 characters will be 2 credits.

    Message length in characters divided by 160 and rounded upwards will give you the number of credits.

    As for replies, we don't charge you for us receiving them.  So it's 1 credit to send the reminder to them.  Then they reply and this costs nothing.  If you have their reply forwarded on, it's another credit for that.  That's not required though, you can always look for replies in the communications tab by searching for "incoming".

    Does that clear it up?

    Joel

  • Avatar
    Head2toe Health

    Perfect thanks Joel :) 

  • Avatar
    Kristen Edwards

    Hi there, Just wondering if there is any progress on the Group SMS feature?  We would like to send a message to a large number of patients and this would make things ALOT easier to be able to do it from here and be able to type the message then select multiple recipients.  Thanks

  • Avatar
    Dr Matt Lynch

    Hi. Is it possible to turn off reply messages? 

  • Avatar
    Jim Sadusky

    We can't stop a patient from replying - no, sorry!  You can add a message to the end of your reminder "Please call us XXXX XXXX to reschedule" or something similar.

  • Avatar
    Richardsoutham

    I am not sure if this has come up somewhere else, but can it be organised that SMS messages can be sent from the new patient screen.

  • Avatar
    Ben

    I would prefer clients to receive text from one number, is this possible? 

  • Avatar
    Emily Gable

    Hi Ben! At the moment, this isn't possible, unfortunately. Our SMS provider uses what's called a "Round Robin" method for sending messages -- so, the message will come from a random number. This means if one number fails to send the message, it will fall back to another to ensure the patient gets the message. Does that make sense? Thanks! :)

  • Avatar
    Julian McNally

    Any news/progress on group messaging for sms (or email for that matter). It would be great to be able to produce a subset of the clinic's patients (e.g. all those seen by a specific practitioner, all those who have received a specific treatment or discount) and alert them to news that only applies to them.

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