Contacting your patients about COVID-19

We’re in an unpredictable place right now all over the world. Information that is accurate today may change by tomorrow. Here are some ways that you can update your communications to get the right information to your patients.


Before booking

There are a number of ways that you can quickly and easily communicate information to your patients en masse, ensuring that everyone gets the latest information regarding your clinic and their appointments.

Online bookings

If you allow your patients to book themselves in online, then you can make sure they have the information they need before booking. This may just include links, or the general info you see on GP doors. There are two spaces available for this general info, which are editable in Settings → Online bookings. You’ll see:

Time selection info: this will appear just below the choices for dates and times. This would be a good place for extended general info. Learn how to set it up here.

Terms of use: If you add terms of use], your patients will need to agree to these when booking an appointment online. This means that this would be a great place to hold info that your patient must read and agree to before making the booking (e.g. “I acknowledge that I will cancel my booking if I become ill with a fever, cough and/or breathing problems.”) This article will guide you through adding terms of use to your online bookings.

Confirmation emails

These are sent out at the time of booking. If you don’t have them set up at the moment, then jump over to our support site to get the low down on how to get started with them.

Importantly, you’re in full control of the information sent with the email. Over in Settings → Appointment confirmations, you can edit your confirmation templates and you can change what you need. For example, you could link to your government’s health information page, or whatever resources you have gathered yourself!

Appointment reminders

These are perhaps more important to change than your long-term confirmation emails. These messages are about appointments happening within the next 1-5 days, and you also control exactly what those messages state. A quick statement about rescheduling if ill would be perfect for this reminder. You can utilise SMS reminders, email reminders, or both.

Bulk SMS

Within Cliniko, we allow you to send out a generic SMS to all people within your account (normal SMS charges will apply). This would be handy for communicating changed opening/closing times, or even a message regarding the temporary shuttering of your clinic.You can access this area from the Communications tab—this guide walks you through setting it up.

Bulk email

Unfortunately, we don’t offer a way to mass email from within Cliniko. There’s a couple of options at your disposal from here though.If you want all email addresses in a spreadsheet format, you can do that by exporting your patient list in Settings → Data exports.

Once you have that spreadsheet, you could manually import that info into any mailing program you want to use and then go from there.Alternatively, we do have an automated integration with Mailchimp, where we can push across client info directly to your Mailchimp Audience.

With Mailchimp, if integrating for the first time, we would recommend having “double opt in” turned off in your Audience. If you have that turned on, then Mailchimp will send out an “invite” to be added to your Audience, and you would be prevented from sending to them until they accept that invite (which may be never!). While this is an important option for marketing emails, it’s not too useful when needing to send out time-sensitive medical info!


After booking

If you want to follow up with your patients after their appointments (to see if they’d like to return, or simply just to see how they’re doing), you can use many of the methods mentioned above (for example, you can automate emails based on someone’s latest appointment date; you can also send a bulk SMS based on when patients were most recently in, as well). There are a couple of other methods that might also prove handy.

Recalls

The recalls function allows you to group patients together based on when you want to reach out to them again, and what you want to reach out to them about. You may wish to follow up with people who came in over the last week, or perhaps the last few weeks, to see how they’re doing and make sure they’re feeling okay. You would first create a recall type for this purpose, assign it to the relevant patients, and, when you’re ready, run a recall report to get a list of who to contact.

Send a letter

The letters function in Cliniko is very similar to sending a regular email—you just do it from Cliniko directly (and there won’t be a way to send letters in bulk). Letters are a great way to send a once-off communication to a patient, their referring GP, or any other third party who might need to be clued in on something about the patient or their appointment. You can create letter templates for virtually any purpose, write them, and then send them off to your chosen recipient.


Hopefully the methods mentioned above will be helpful to you when it comes to communicating with your patients during this uncertain time, both before and after their appointments. And as usual, if you have any questions for us, just give our support team a shout. :slight_smile: