Update 23 Mar 2020: See here for info on the Simple Appointment SMS system: https://help.medilink.com.au/support/solutions/articles/11000084188-simple-appointment-sms

A number of practices have been asking us how to best send out advice to patients re coronavirus. Most typically in relation to attendance, i.e. please call to reschedule if you are potentially affected.

The obvious solution is to use the existing Medilink SMS appointment reminder system however given that practices want to provide a lot of information about this, there are 2 main issues with that:

-- Messages are limited to 160 characters.

-- Only appointments with the new status (i.e. aqua circle) are sent messages.

Unfortunately, the character limit cannot be easily lifted. While it's all possible technically, it's a hard cap introduced in the software that's there to help save practices money. Certainly, in the early days of SMS reminders, duplicate and multiple messages were a constant complaint, but in this case, it's the opposite that's causing a problem.

The second item effectively means only one message per patient, because after you send the SMS reminder the status of an appointment will change. However, you can change the status of appointments back to new (click the appointment then the confirmed status button twice) then re-run a bulk SMS, but that is a bit tedious (plausible for smaller practices though).

The best compromise is to be succinct with your SMS message format.


Appointment Book -> Setup Menu -> SMS Control Centre

If you don't already have a message format for coronavirus, click New Message Format.

Type in an appropriate and concise message, for example:

<patientfirstname> reply OK to confirm <appointmenttime> <appointmentdate> with <providertitle> <providersurname>. Recent travellers or unwell please call <practicephone>.

So if we sent this to patient John Smith it would look something like:

Ourtown Medical Centre

John reply OK to confirm 3:30pm 20/03/2020 with Dr JOHNSON. Recent travellers or unwell please call 01 2345 6789.

Of course, you are free to modify as you see fit. When finished click Save Message Format, name it something appropriate i.e. Coronavirus Reminder, then OK and OK again.

In some time you will need to revert back to your Default Message Format. Simply click Load Message Format and then Default Message Format and click OK.

Additionally, you may like to put up a notice on your door, a template is available here: https://www.medilink.com.au/CoronaWarning.docx