Set up SMS appointment reminders

Send automated SMS reminders to your patients!

Emily avatar
Written by Emily
Updated over a week ago

If you want to send SMS messages to your patients to remind them of their upcoming appointments, Cliniko can help! 

You'll first want to create unique reminder templates that will match all your different appointment appointment types. A pilates class might not have the same sort of cancellation policy as an initial physiotherapy session, for example. 

You'll also want to link your templates to your appointment types—this will ensure that each appointment sends out the right type of reminder.

In this article, we'll walk you through:

Step one: create SMS appointment reminder templates

Head to Settings, and then Appointment reminders:

Cliniko "Settings" page with "Appointment reminders" menu option highlighted.

Select New SMS template:

"Appointment reminder templates" page with "New SMS template" button highlighted.

On the next page, you'll have to set up a template name, a reminder period and time, and whether or not you want to skip weekends:

"New reminder template" page.

Then, you'll be able to add your content to the SMS reminder!

Understanding SMS reminder templates

You'll be able to set up your reminder template using whatever content you want, and we recommend making use of "placeholders"—these are the menu items in all capital letters across the top of the content editor:

An SMS reminder template with placeholder options highlighted.

What the placeholders do is "pull" applicable content in to the reminder. Using the Patient.FirstName   placeholder will automatically result in the reminder showing the first name of the patient that gets it. Cliniko is pretty smart, and it knows who has an appointment, and when, and where—so the placeholders simply tell Cliniko which information to put in the reminders!

You're also able to click the View sample button at the bottom of the editor to get a general idea of what your reminders will look like.

SMS reminders will typically cost 1 credit, and if you go over 160 characters, you will be charged an additional credit. Cliniko will estimate how many credits will be used per reminder and display this for you:

An SMS reminder template with "Each reminder will cost approximately 2 SMS credits" highlighted.

If you're concerned that your reminders might be too long, there are a few things you can do to shorten them:

  • Use shorter placeholders, such as Practitioner.FirstName instead of Practitioner.FullName. For example, your reminders would just say Sam instead of Sam Jamie McKnightson King. (That's a really long name, but you get the idea!)

  • Shorten the phrasing. If you want a patient to reply "yes" to let you know if they're coming, use something like "Reply Y to confirm", rather than "Reply yes if you're going to attend". That saves you a bunch of characters!

  • Check for "empty" spaces. A space counts as a character, and sometimes a few too many get into your message, causing it to tip over into 2-credit territory!

  • When in doubt, feel free to ask our support team for help. They'll be able to offer guidance!

Once you've saved your template, you'll see a list outlining what you have in your appointment reminder settings:

"Appointment reminder templates" page showing a list of templates.

Within that list, you'll be able to see the number of appointment types that are associated with that template—and this leads us onto the second half of of the set-up process, which is linking your templates to your appointment types!

Step two: link SMS reminder templates to appointment types

Now that your templates are set up, you'll be able to link them to each appointment type. To do this, head to Settings, and then Appointment types:

Cliniko "Settings" page with "Appointment types" menu option highlighted.

Select the relevant appointment type from your list:

"Appointment types" page showing a list of appointment types.

Below the "colour picker" on the appointment type page, you'll see the option to select a template for reminders or confirmations. Select Appointment reminder SMS:

The options that show up will be based on the templates you set up in step one:

If you don't see what you're after, we recommend double-checking that the template has indeed been set up as an SMS reminder template, and not a reminder email or confirmation email template.

There are a few things to keep in mind with SMS reminders!

  • If None is selected, it means no SMS reminder will be sent whatsoever for this appointment type.

  • You will need to purchase SMS credits if you wish to use SMS reminders.

  • Patients will only get SMS reminders if they have a mobile number on file, and don't have a custom communication preference set up to specifically not receive SMS reminders.

Important note regarding reminders

In order to ensure that reminders get sent, you'll want to make sure that reminders are turned on for each business location. In order to double-check this, head to Settings, and then Business information:

Cliniko "Settings" page with "Business information" menu option highlighted.

Make sure that that Send appointment reminders for appointments at this business is turned to On:

A business location's settings page highlighting "Send appointment reminders for appointments at this business" with toggle set to "On".

That will ensure that the reminders are enabled for the relevant business!

If you want to also send your patients email reminders of their upcoming appointments, you can set those up! You can learn how to do that here.

If you have any questions on any of this, our friendly support team is here to help! 🤗

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