The Patient Notification Center (notify) is a powerful tool for contacting patients and families. You can set up recurring or one-time notifications, and PCC will deliver messages to your patients automatically through our partnership with TeleVox (West), either by phone call, text message, or e-mail.
The Patient Notification Center currently supports appointment reminders, “Due for a Visit” notifications, and account balance notifications. For example, you can create a notification that automatically contacts patients three days before their appointment and tells them the date, time, location and physician (optionally) of the appointment. Or, you could create a set of criteria for physicals or other visit types and automatically remind patients to call and schedule an appointment. Finally, you can send a balance notification to all families with certain aged balances.
Broadcast Messaging as Alternative: Instead or in addition to the notification features in PCC described below, your practice could use Broadcast Messaging from any patient-based report in PCC EHR’s Report Library. Broadcast Messaging’s search and filter capabilities are similar to the recaller tools used for patient notification, but they are designed around single notifications.
- 1 Getting Started
- 2 What Do Notification Messages Sound or Look Like?
- 3 Which Notification Delivery Method is Used?
- 4 Notification Features and Options
- 5 Other Considerations and Useful Options
Contact PCC Sales to get started. The Patient Notification Center uses a TeleVox interface, which requires a setup fee and per-contact fees. Our sales and support teams can help you understand the features, the cost, and help you decide if it is a good match for your needs. Next, we’ll register you with TeleVox (also known as West).
Once you are signed up, PCC Support will work with you to configure your Partner system for the Patient Notification Center. We’ll help you pick options, such as preferred languages.
Finally, you’ll use the Patient Notification Center (
notify) program to schedule your notifications and select criteria and options for notification messages.
What Do Notification Messages Sound or Look Like?
Here are the voice messages for various notification types. These messages are created by TeleVox and are not customizable.
|Appointment Reminder w/ Clinician’s Name||Hello. This is the office of Dr. James Smith at Pediatric Associates calling to remind Johnny of an appointment at 9:00am on May 15th, 2012.|
|Appointment Reminder w/o Clinician’s Name||Hello. This is Pediatric Associates calling to remind Johnny of an appointment at 9:00am on May 15th, 2012.|
|Due For a Visit Notification w/ Recall Reason||Hello, this is Pediatric Associates calling with a reminder that Johnny is due for a <recall reason>. Please call us at 800-722-1082 to schedule an appointment. We look forward to hearing from you soon|
|Due For a Visit Notification w/o Recall Reason||Hello, this is Pediatric Associates calling with a reminder that Johnny is due for a visit. Please call us at 800-722-1082 to schedule an appointment. We look forward to hearing from you soon|
|Account Balance Notification||Hello this is Pediatric Associates calling. Our records indicate that your account is more than 60 days overdue. Please call our office at 800-722-1082 to arrange payment today. Thank you!|
Responding to a Phone Reminder: If a person answers the phone and hears the message live, they will have an opportunity to press numbers to confirm the appointment, repeat the message, or cancel the appointment. If an answering machine or voicemail answers the phone, an additional message will play instead: “If you need to cancel or reschedule this appointment, please call us during normal business hours at 800-722-1082.”
When the patient has indicated they would prefer e-mail communication, or your notification is configured for e-mail delivery, this is the e-mail template for an appointment reminder:
Responding to an E-Mail Reminder: E-mail reminders include a confirmation button. There is no cancelation option for e-mails at this time; families will need to call the office to cancel a scheduled appointment.
The e-mail template for a Due for a Visit notification differs slightly.
The e-mail template for an account balance notification is similar:
Practice Location: If you have more than one location, you can indicate a different practice phone number in the body of the message. You can only show one official practice address on the right-hand panel, however, unless you have more than one TeleVox account. If you need to show different addresses, work with PCC Support to discuss your options.
When the patient has indicated they would prefer text message communication, or your notification is configured for text message delivery, this is the standard text message for an appointment reminder:
Responding to a Text Reminder: Text messages include an option for the recipient to text back and confirm or cancel the appointment.
A “Due for a Visit” notification would read, “Pediatric Associates: Johnny is due for a Well Visit. Please contact us at 800-722-1082 to schedule an appt.”
Which Notification Delivery Method is Used?
When your notification is processed, Partner uses TeleVox to contact your patients by phone, e-mail, or text message. How does it know which delivery method to use?
By default, Partner looks for a patient confidential communication preference. If the patient’s preference is set to “No Preference”, then Partner will use the first available phone number in the Custodian account. This default delivery method behavior can be defined in the Patient Notification Center section of the Configuration Editor (
Your office can collect a patient’s phone, e-mail, or text message preference in the Confidential Communication Preference section of Patient Checkin (
checkin), the Patient Editor (
notjane), or the Demographics section of the patient’s chart in PCC EHR.
Custom Delivery Method
When you create or edit a notification, you can also specify the preferred and alternate delivery methods. For example, you could tell Partner to send TeleVox instructions to text message the Custodian’s cell phone number, if available, and otherwise to call the home number.
Notification Features and Options
Once your registration is complete and PCC Support has activated the features on your system, you are ready to create your first patient notification.
One-Time, or Recurring?: If you wish, you can use the Patient Notification Center to create a single, one-time notification to patients, based on their upcoming visits. Or, you can design a recurring, “always active” notification.
Most offices interested in using notifications for appointment reminders will want to create a recurring, daily notification. Then, all patients who meet your criteria and have upcoming appointments will receive a reminder. If an appointment reminder is not recurring or not daily, some patients will not receive reminders.
Recurring Notifications Must Expire: When your practice creates a recurring notification, you must enter an expiration date for that notification. You can set the date to several years or months into the future. You can edit and extend the expiration date at any time. When your recurring notification is about to expire, your PCC system will send an e-mail message to the
adminuser on your system. On the last day before a notification expires, your system will also open a support sheet with your PCC account team. Contact PCC Support for help configuring your practice’s admin user.
What Patients to Include?: You can limit appointment notifications to certain visit reasons, physicians, or other criteria. For example, you may decide to only send reminders for Well visits, because missed Well visits are more costly and disruptive to your practice’s schedule. Or, you may want to send appointment reminders for some physicians but not for others.
What Patients to Exclude?: When you create some notifications, you can indicate which patient or account status flags should cause the patient to be excluded from receiving notification messages. For appointment notifications, for example, the
notifyprogram will automatically suggest you exclude based on flags that are already configured to indicate an inactive patient, but you can select or deselect any flag in order to control who receives notification messages. Read Exclude Patients from Recaller and Notify to learn more.
What Delivery Methods to Use?: As described above and in the how-to procedures, you can specify the preferred delivery method (e-mail, phone, or text message) and the preferred data source (custodian account, guarantor account, patient account), for each notification.
Appointment Reminder Options
What kind of appointment reminders do you wish to send? Before you jump in, your office should consider the following useful options and work with your Client Advocate to configure your settings appropriately.
Note: All appointment reminders include the date, time, and location of the appointment. You can elect to include or exclude the scheduled physician’s name in the reminder.
How Early to Remind?: When creating an appointment reminder notification, you can decide how many days in advance to send appointment notification reminders to the patients.
Cancellation and Confirm Features Between the Appointment Book and PCC’s Notify Service
When you use PCC’s Notify service to send families notifications about upcoming appointments, your practice can optionally allow the family to cancel their appointment from the notification phone call, email or text message.
You have two ways of handling cancellation responses from families:
- Your practice can review a report of which families canceled appointments and then manually cancel them in the Appointment Book (or call the family to reschedule).
- Or your practice can configure PCC so that an appointment will be cancelled when the family selects the cancel option or texts “No” to the confirmation message. When a family cancels an appointment, that slot will be available for your practice to schedule right away in PCC, without any intervention.
To review these options and optimize how PCC’s Notify service works with your PCC Appointment Book, get in touch with your Client Advocate.
“Due for a Visit” Options
Include the Recall Reason, or Not?: Your Due for a Visit notification can include a recall reason, such as “Well Visit”, or not. Recall Reasons are a pre-defined list designed by PCC and TeleVox to preserve patient confidentiality:
- Well Visit
- Follow Up Visit
- Medication Check
- Flu Vaccination
Recall Criteria: The Patient Notification Center uses the same criteria options as the Patient Recaller. When creating a Due for a Visit notification, you can remove patients who already have a scheduled appointment, limit the age range, or divide recalls up by primary care physician, geographical region, or other criteria.
Account Balance Options
What Balance Range Triggers a Notification?: Your Account Balance notification can be limited to balances over $5.00, for example, or any amount you specify.
What Aging Categories?: Will you send notifications as soon as balances are more than 30 days overdue, or wait for 60? 90? The Patient Notification Center uses the same criteria options as the Patient Recaller. When creating a Due for a Visit notification, you can remove patients who already have a scheduled appointment, limit the age range, or divide recalls up by primary care physician, geographical region, or other criteria.
Restrict By Flag: You can use account status flags to ensure that certain accounts do not receive notifications, or set up a specialized notification that is only sent to accounts with certain status flags..
After considering the above details, you are ready to create a notification.
Other Considerations and Useful Options
How Does a Family Opt Out?: Based on your notification criteria,
notify calls or texts all families who have provided a contact number. If a family member does not wish to receive messages to their cell phone, they can opt out at any time by sending STOP to 622-622. They will always get a welcome message with instructions about how to opt out before they receive their first reminder. If someone accidentally “stops” receiving messages from your practice and wants to start receiving them again, they can simply send your practice’s ORGKEY to 622-622 to opt back in.
Warning: Switching Phone Carriers Requires Family to Opt Back In: If a patient or parent changes to a different phone carrier, their number will no longer be recognized by
notify. While only the cell user knows when they make a carrier change, you will see a line in your error messaging reports stating that their text was undelivered due to a carrier error. To opt back in, the family can simply text your practice’s ORGKEY to 622-622.
Written Consent to Call or Text: Under the FCC TCPA regulations, there are some legal considerations with regard to calls or texts sent to a cell phone using an autodialer (like
notify). Because the legal details can be tricky to follow and open to legal interpretation, PCC recommends that your practice gets written consent to call or text. An easy way to do this would be to add a small blurb to your practice’s policy or demographic form. For more information and sample text, read Best Practices for Use of Automated Communications. You may also wish to consult your practice’s legal counsel, as PCC can not provide legal advice.
Family Messaging Options: The Patient Notification Center can use TeleVox to automatically delivery reminder messages to all patients with scheduled appointments. But if a family has more than one sibling scheduled for an appointment on the same day, they might receive two messages in a row to the same phone number. Optionally, you can call PCC Support and ask for the “Family Messaging” option. We will adjust TeleVox settings so families will only get one message a day, a reminder for the first patient. All other patients with appointments later that day for that family will not receive a reminder.
New Clinicians?: When you add a new physician or other scheduling provider to your practice, be sure and contact PCC Support so they can be added to your configuration for the Patient Notification Center.
Area Codes are Required: For telephone notifications to work, the numbers in your patient and family records must be 10 digits long. If an account only lists a seven-digit phone number, the Patient Notification Center will not send the information to Televox.
Note: The patient’s confidential communication preference is the first default delivery method. If a patient has a mailing address or invalid entry listed, Partner will honor that request and TeleVox will not deliver the notification to any alternate delivery method. If the patient has “no preference” selected, Partner will use any available alternate delivery method configured for each notification. You can override this behavior by configuring a notification so that it goes directly to a guarantor or custodian delivery method, or you can change your practice’s defaults in the Patient Notification Center section of the Configuration Editor (
FCC Auto-Call Guidelines: There must be an appointment or other clinical reason to contact a patient. You can not use auto-call features or the Patient Notification Center for marketing purposes.