March 19, 2013
Using Email appointment reminders can significantly reduce the work load on the front desk. Many reminders can be sent with one click, and the patient receives the full appointment information, without taking time to be on the phone and leaving messages that might get missed. Additional marketing information can also be included. Although not a perfect method – email appointment reminders can be a strong alternative to traditional voice calls.
Make sure that the patient’s email address is valid. A valid address such as firstname.lastname@example.org, has two parts. The part before the @ sign is the local-part of the address, often the username of the recipient (jsmith), and the part after the @ sign is a domain name to which the email message will be sent (example.org). Collecting valid email addresses can be done at time of billing or on the patient’s first visit.
In the Patient Information window, choose the Other tab. The Preferred Appointment Reminder should be set to Email. This needs to be done for each patient.
Here’s how to configure Clinic Essentials to send email appointment reminders:
- From the Clinic Essentials menu – choose Tables/Configuration, then click on the Email tab.
- Choose whether the email will be sent using SMTP (select checkbox) or MAPI(leave checkbox unselected). Most clinics should probably configure Clinic Essentials email reminders to be sent via SMTP.
- Transport of email across the Internet uses the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), while mailboxes are most often accessed with the Post Office Protocol (POP) and the Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP). MAPI can be used for both sending and receiving emails as it has access to folders like the inbox and outbox. In contrast, SMTP is used exclusively for sending emails. In order to receive emails, you also need to use another protocol like POP or IMAP.
- One advantageous feature of MAPI is its ability to automatically save a copy of sent emails as it routes all emails through the outbox of the user. With SMTP, you do not get this feature built-in. But, you can still get the same functionality by including yourself in the BCC or if the server has been programmed to save a copy of the sent email into the sent folder.
- If using MAPI there is no real configuration necessary. MSOutlook or MSOutlook Express will automatically show the sent emails in the sent email folder, if an account is configured on the local machine.
- Click the SMTP checkbox.
- Choose settings for either the whole clinic or for each practitioner separately. Click New on the toolbar.
- Select the practitioner from the list using the binoculars lookup button.
- Enter the Email From Address – all emails sent out will show that this is who sent the email, and this email account will get a copy of the sent email blind copied (BCC).
- Typically this will be the account that is monitored by the front desk. Eg. email@example.com
- Enter the SMTP Server information. Common ISP (Internet Service Providers) settings are:
- Telus: smtp.telus.net
- Shaw: mail.shaw.ca
- Google Mail - Gmail: smtp.gmail.com:587
- If there is an email client installed on the computer, check the account settings for the SMTP server and optional Port number. Use the format: smtpserver.domain:XXX where XXX = the port number
- Click on Save.
To send Email reminders
- From the Scheduler – click the Appointment Reminders icon on the toolbar.
- Choose the Practitioner for whom the reminders will be sent
- Choose the Date the reminders are for.
- Each section (Phone, Text and Email) will be populated with patients based on their Preferred appointment reminder setting. This is set in the Patient Information/Other tab.
- Edit the message to be sent and include the <fields> that will be populated by Clinic Essentials (Insert Appointment Data into selected message).
- Click Send – a dialog box will display how many emails were sent and each entry in the list will be confirmed (change colour).
- If there are any email addresses that did not send from Clinic Essentials, they will show as NOT confirmed in the list and may not be a valid email address. Correct and resend.
- Check the Sent Items folder in your email client (for MAPI configuration) or check the Inbox of your email client (SMTP configuration) for sent emails.
- Even though the emails are sent there is no guarantee they are received or read. Periodically check your Inbox for rejected or undeliverable emails. This is most often due to changes in email address or full email boxes.
Applicable to Clinic Essentials version 7.12.10 or higher
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