Patients aren't receiving SMS messages

Are SMS messages not reaching your patients? Let's investigate the possible reasons!

Emily avatar
Written by Emily
Updated over a week ago

Are you sending SMS reminders or messages out to your patients, but they're not getting them? There could be a few reasons as to why this is happening! The first thing to do is check the communications log to see if there is any record of that message being sent. 

Then, the sleuthing will continue—the following could all be possible reasons that the message did not reach your patient!

The following article will walk you through how to check for these possible reasons, and of course Cliniko's support team can help you out if you still have questions!

First, check the communications log

Do you see the message listed in your communications log, even if it's marked as "Failed"?

Head to Communications, and you can see (and search through) a full list of all messages that have been sent from Cliniko:

If you do see a record of an outgoing message but it's marked as "Failed", it might be that you're out of credits, and need to purchase more to be able to send messages!

However, if you don't see a record of an outgoing message, then check out the possible reasons below—one of which is likely to be the culprit!

You've run out of SMS credits

In order to send any sort of SMS message from Cliniko, you have to have SMS credits on hand! If you've run out, then messages will try to send, but will fail.

If a message has failed, you'll see it marked as such in the communications log:

If you see that "Failed" sign in red, you'll want to check your settings to see if you're out of credits! Head to Settings, and then SMS settings:

From there, you can see how many credits you currently have:

If you're at 0 (or below!), then the reason those messages didn't send is because there wasn't enough credit on file! Top up your credits and you'll be able to send messages again.

If you notice that the day's reminders have not gone out when they should, and realise it's because you needed more credits—and then buy more credits—Cliniko will try to send those reminders again for a few hours! We retry messages every hour on the hour, up to 5 hours after the reminder window.

For example, if your SMS reminder window is from 10AM to 11AM, as long as you’ve topped up before 3pm, Cliniko will keep trying to resend those reminders.

The business doesn't have SMS reminders turned on

You might have enough credits and have gotten everything setup correctly, except for one thing, which can be easy to miss! Reminders can be disabled at the "business" level, so if you have multiple clinics, it's possible that the reminders for one of them got turned off. You'll just want to turn them back on to fix things up.

To check this, first head to Settings, and then Business information:

Select the business that reminders aren't going out for. On the next page, towards the bottom, make sure that the toggle is turned to On under where it says Send appointment reminders for appointments at this business:

Save the settings, and that should fix things up for you!

Appointment types don't have SMS reminders turned on

In order to ensure that SMS reminders get sent out, two things need to occur:

  • SMS reminder templates need to be created, and

  • These same reminder templates need to be linked to appointment types.

We walk through the steps of setting it all up here, but if you need to double-check that your appointment types are set up with corresponding SMS reminder templates, you'll want to head to Settings, and then Appointment types:

Select the appointment type in question, and scroll down to where it says Appointment reminder SMS. If it says "None", it means that no reminder template has been linked to this appointment type:

If you click "None", you'll be able to select a template to use:

Save the settings, and you'll be set! 🙌 

If you don't see a template, then you'll want to set up a new SMS reminder template and link it to this appointment type. Learn how to do that here.

The patient doesn't have a mobile phone number on file

If you have credit on file, and your SMS reminders are enabled, and all your appointment types are set up to send reminders, but they're still not reaching your patients, it could be because the patient doesn't have a mobile phone number on file (or any phone number at all!).

Select the patient in question and check out their contact details. A mobile number set up properly should have "Mobile" listed next to it, and have a "Send SMS message" link below it:

It doesn't matter if you have the country code in front of the mobile number, or if it's formatted with or without spaces. All that matters is that it is a mobile number, and is listed as "Mobile"!

If you do not see the number listed as mobile, edit the patient's details and select Mobile from the drop-down list of available "phone number types" under their Contact information:

Save, and that means that reminders should be successfully delivered to this patient in the future!

The patient has a different reminder preference

If all your settings are looking right, and if the patient has a mobile number on file, but they still aren't getting messages, they may have a different (non-SMS) preference set for receiving reminders (this preference would override the default that you had set when originally setting up your SMS reminders).

Select the patient in question and check their Communication preferences:

If the automated reminder says "None" or Email", it would mean that they will not receive SMS reminders, even if that's your default setting.

While you can edit this preference and change it to "SMS", it might be that this patient has specifically requested not to get SMS reminders for some reason, so it might be a good idea to double-check before making any changes!

Something else weird is going on!

If you've exhausted all possible options and have checked everything outlined above, and messages are marked as "Sent", and patients still are not getting them, then let's talk!

In the communications log, find the message that is marked as "Sent", but did not get received. Click on the date of the message:

From the next page, take note of the communication ID number, which will be in the page URL:

Copy this number, and send it to our support team—we can assist from this point forward! To send it to us, simply click the "chat bubble" in the lower right-hand corner of this screen. 😀 💬

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