Setting up 'Add to Calendar' links in SMS reminders

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  • Updated 3 years ago
  • (Edited)
Front Desk 16.9 now has the ability for you to include a clickable link in your SMS to allow patient appointment details to be entered directly into their smartphone calendar. 

To get started, it is important to customise your individual practitioner files to correctly display the practitioner name, profession and address location in the calendar file that is sent to patients. This is especially important if you have practitioner files for multiple locations.

To make changes to what the calendar reminder will display, open up your Practitioner file and select the Reminders tab. From here you can customise the Appointment Description, the Address and add some general Appointment Notes that will be added to all patient's calendar files.


 
The next step is to send your SMS reminders as per usual from Appointment Book > Reports and Utilities.

Simply tick the Add a calendar link to SMS reminders option when sending your reminders. 

 

To enable this by default for all SMS appointment reminders go to System Information > SMS and tick the ‘Automatically add calendar link to SMS reminders’ option.


 
When the patient receives the SMS, the end of the message will include a link that they can click to add it to the calendar on their smartphone. The patient will now have the appointment in their calendar with a reminder set to appear 1 hour before the appointment is scheduled. 



Patients using an iPhone running the latest iOS 9 will conveniently receive a second alert called ‘Time to Leave’ which will intelligently remind them at the time when they should start travelling to your practice. 
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Timothy, Business Care Manager

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Posted 3 years ago

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Judy Maier

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Does the additional text increase the size of your SMS?  We are already maximising the text length so will it make all SMs two credits?
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Timothy, Business Care Manager

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Hi Judy. Adding the calendar links may increase the length of the SMS, depending on the length of your existing SMS template. You can check the total SMS credits required by clicking Get Balance on the SMS Reminders window.

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DrMat

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Is there a way to perhaps edit the default message with the calendar link?  At present it's 60 characters, perhaps shorten it to just "Calendar link" or something?  I don't think most people will want to be spending double the SMS credits just to add the link.
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Josie Tropeano, Product Manager

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During the development of this function we originally included a merge tag for the calendar link URL but pulled it in favour of the predefined text, to make it easier to use. Our aim was to minimise the number of characters used, while still clearly providing sufficient instructions for your patients to add an appointment to their calendars. We would be happy to reconsider adding back the merge tag so you can develop your own surrounding text.

On a positive note, some practices that were previously sending 2 separate SMS, one near the time of the appointment, may now only send the one initial SMS.

Ultimately, this is a great new function (a first in the industry) to help increase attendance rates and decrease 'no shows'.
(Edited)
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Stacy Budlender

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I think the 2 sms credit is a bit steep, character limits are done and dusted on all modern mobile phones. The cost of the yearly support fee plus the sms's are making smartsoft fall behind in the game, where other New client software places don't even charge for sms's.
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Josie Tropeano, Product Manager

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Hi Stacy

The 160 character limit per SMS is not ours but that of the Telco's worldwide.  If you send an SMS with 161 characters we get charged for 2 SMS and need to pass this cost on.

The market and our 3rd party vendors tell us we are the largest supplier of professional PMS software products in the allied health space in Australia, so I do not agree that we are somehow falling behind. There are certainly some cheap alternatives in the market place, but you are getting less for less.

Could you let me know which PMS companies provide their users free SMS?

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Stacy Budlender

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Hi Josie, Mindbody offer free sms https://software.mindbodyonline.com/mindbody-online?campaignID=70160000000PzI8&WT.mc_id=Search_B... they are really ahead of front desk in terms of marketing but no way close in regards to clinical notes and patient management. I still feel front desk is behind on its marketing features, however like I said the clinical side is far superior and at the end of the day I felt that was more important.

There are so many integrations that one can add to software these days. Staff checklist, marketing tools, I feel that smartsoft is starting to head in this direction and I think its absolutely necessary they do.
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Josie Tropeano, Product Manager

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Hi Stacy

To be fair you are comparing an American based program for "Crossfit, Health Club, Dance, Fitness, Martial Arts, Massage, Personal training, Yoga...." to a system designed for Australian Allied Health Professionals. We may very well have different priorities in what we offer and the level of support provided.

Back to the free SMS.  Yes the SMS from Mind Body Online are included if you pay $225 per month ($2,700 per year) for each location you operate from and they have a 160 character limit.

Thank you for acknowledging our strengths and that we are heading in the right direction :-)

Josie

(Edited)
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DrMat

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Josie, while it is a great feature I would imagine most practices are in the same boat as us where once you've added a greeting, next appointment time, practice phone number etc you're already at or close to the 160 character limit so to add the link is an instant 2 SMS credit.  If SMS credits weren't 16-22c then it wouldn't be as much of an issue but they are still VERY expensive in comparison to others.
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Josie Tropeano, Product Manager

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Hi Mat

For a proper comparison our SMS are from 0.13c (Ex GST). I'm quoting the price without GST as that is what our competitors do. On our website we quote all our prices including GST, as we believe this is consistent with how Australian consumers expect to see pricing.

We only resell locally routed on-net SMS, which is industry best, the only PMS company in Australia to do so as it is consistent with our quality values required when providing critical business software and services. Our SMS offer best value as they are the most reliable and it is not worth an increase in 'no shows' for a few cents per appointment.

For more information please see the following article:

https://community.smartsoft.com.au/smartsoft/topics/not-all-sms-are-made-the-same


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Kirsty

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I have just altered my appointment reminder text and the msg + the link to the calendar is now all for 158 characters so it is possible to only need 1 credit. I am looking forward to seeing if it works now! My msg is as follows....
Your next Podiatry appt is on <<NextAppointment dd d-m-yyyy hh:nn am/pm>>. To cancel call Toetool Podiatry 82714030.
This will come up with the link afterwards if I tick the box to include it and it says that it is only 1 credit needed.
(Edited)
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Josie Tropeano, Product Manager

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Good work !!!!
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Josie Tropeano, Product Manager

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Hi Guys

Just some feedback regarding the average number of SMS credits required by our users to send a 'Calendar Link' over the past week since this functionality has been released.

71% of appointment reminders using the additional 'Calendar Link' use 1 SMS credit.

I suggest that you revise your appointment template, such as the example provided by Kirsty above, if you want to keep your messages under the 160 character limit per SMS. Note that additional information like practice name, location, practitioner, profession, time of the appointment and an optional general description will be added to your patient's calendar, with no increase to your SMS character count.

Will the calendar link work on all mobile devices? no, but it will work on most. I will have someone from the technical team provide more information in regards to this.

(Edited)
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Mandurah Chiropractic

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We send all receipts to our patients by email. Is it possible to have a calendar link in the email we send?
This would be great for us as the patients will be able to directly save their next appointment to their calendar on their phone giving them enough notice before their next appointment.
We wouldn't use a calendar link on sms as we send them on the day of the appointment to remind them of their appointment time. 
Thanks 
Sam
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Alex

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Hi all.

We are using industry best practice to be able to put appointments into smartphone calendars, but this is not an exact science for all phones. iPhone and iPad as well as most newer Samsung devices have support for this standard. Some, less common Android devices may or may not be compatible, which generally can be fixed if your clients download and install the official Google Calendar application. Older phones like Blackberry and Nokia will not work from our testing.