When a patient receives an appointment reminder via SMS, they may respond via SMS reply. Depending on the response, HotDoc may recognise and action the response accordingly, or send it to the practice for manual actioning.
This article will take you through what kind of responses HotDoc recognises, as well as how to process responses through your HotDoc Sidebar.
In this article
What can a patient respond with?
When choosing your appointment reminder SMS copy, you can also give the patient the option to reply yes/no, confirm/cancel to the text message alongside a link to a confirmation page:
This allows the appointment to be confirmed or cancelled without the patient needing to contact the practice directly. This is particularly helpful if they do not have access to an internet connection to view the link.
- If the patient replies in the affirmative ("yes", "y", "confirm", etc.), this will be written back to the appointment book to show that the appointment has been confirmed.
- If the patient replies in the negative ("no", "n", "cancel", etc.), this will either immediately remove the appointment from the book or send the request to the HotDoc Sidebar for your team to action, depending on your practice's cancellation settings e.g. if you've turned off cancellations for an appointment type.
What happens if the patient replies with something different?
Sometimes, patients may respond to an SMS appointment reminder with something HotDoc does not recognise. When this happens, this response will appear in your Sidebar to read and action accordingly.
- For example: If the copy in the SMS appointment reminder prompts the patient to reply yes/no or confirm/cancel, but the patient responds with "I feel better now", we are unable to understand the patient's intention and this response will appear in your Sidebar to be actioned manually.
How to action an SMS response in the Sidebar
- When a patient replies with a response that HotDoc cannot recognise, you will firstly receive a notification in the Sidebar.
- Open the notification and select Cancel Appointment or Confirm Appointment on behalf of the patient based on their reply. The appointment will then either be confirmed in the appointment book or removed.
- Alternatively, if you are unable to determine the patient's intention through their reply, we would recommend that you call the patient for more clarification. Their mobile number will be shown in the notification for ease of contact.
What happens if the patient replies twice?
Sometimes, a patient will respond to their SMS appointment reminder twice and you will receive a notification for this second response in your Sidebar. Below are a few of the common scenarios as to why a patient would respond twice:
- Patient has responded to their appointment to confirm, then responds again to cancel.
- Patient has responded to their appointment to cancel, then responds again to confirm.
- Patient has responded to their appointment to confirm, then accidentally responds again to confirm.
- Patient has confirmed/cancelled by clicking on the link in the SMS reminder, then responds via text to the SMS message to confirm/cancel.
To action this:
- Open the Sidebar to read the patient's response. We will also tell you if the patient's initial response confirmed or cancelled their appointment.
- Depending on the patient's response, you can dismiss this by clicking Mark as read or you may also need to contact the patient directly by phone to discuss their message: