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How to Use the Broadcasts Feature to Send a Message to a List of Recipients

Article author
Mairi
  • Updated

Overview

The Broadcasts feature allows Coordinators and Administrators to send an email or SMS message to a selected list of recipients at a specific time from the OnCall platform. Examples of Broadcasts could include office closures, provider unavailability, or announcements related to a given program.

This article will walk you through how to create and send mass Broadcasts through the OnCall web application. This article will be updated as iterations of this feature are released.

Please contact your OnCall Account Manager or Support channels to learn more about enabling this feature for your organization.

 

Quick Links ⚡️

Guide

Best Practices

Prior to getting started, please note the following best practices and restrictions:

  1. Exercise care with the content you intend to share and limit the amount of PHI you include.
  2. Currently, only North American phone numbers in the 10-digit format (e.g., 515-654-3210) are supported for SMS messages. WhatsApp messages are not supported.
  3. We recommend that you include information in the Broadcast message about how to get in touch with your organization if the recipient has further questions.
  4. Limitations are in place to protect recipients from spam, and to ensure that outgoing messages are not flagged as such. A given organization may not exceed:

2,500 SMS messages and/or 5,000 email messages per hour

5,000 SMS messages and/or 30,000 email messages per day

 

Preparing the Broadcast Recipient List

A CSV template of a recipient list is available to download when creating your Broadcast, at the bottom of the instructional sidebar on the right side of the screen:

The CSV requires four columns; first name, last name, phone number and email address. Note, both first name and last name fields are mandatory fields per recipient, but you only need either phone number or email address populated per recipient.

Recipients do not need to be users of OnCall in order to receive a Broadcast.

You may either input recipient data manually, or by exporting information from your primary EHR or Customer Relationship Management platform, or by using data from OnCall’s Analytics tab.

Please note that certain characters are not supported in the .CSV file and will cause the Broadcast to fail. Please see below for the list of supported characters:

  • ,: Comma
  • .: Period
  • -: Hyphen
  • @: At symbol
  • $: Dollar sign
  • %: Percent sign
  • !: Exclamation mark
  • #: Hash mark
  • <: Less than symbol
  • >: Greater than symbol
  • &: Ampersand
  • *: Asterisk
  • (): Parentheses
  • _: Underscore
  • +: Plus sign
  • =: Equal sign
  • :: Colon
  • ': Single quotation mark
  • \: Backslash
  • `: Backtick
  • ~: Tilde

 

Exporting Client Information from CareLogic EHR

 

CareLogic users can access an “OnCall Broadcast Message Report” via OnCall Reports in the CareLogic EHR. This report will include; Client ID, first name last name, email address and phone number. It can filtered by appointment date, appointment type, Organization, Activity and Provider as needed.

If you have any difficulty locating the OnCall Broadcast Message Report, please reach out to either your OnCall or CareLogic Account Managers to assist.

 

Exporting Client Information from Credible EHR

 

Credible customers may use the Advanced Client Search to generate client lists.

Alternatively, the following Credible Reports can be made accessible to Administrative users. Once enabled, the reports may be found by selecting the Admin navigation bar, then the Reports tab. The reports are named as follows:

  • Scheduled Clients From a Specified Program
  • All Active Clients' Info
  • Clients Who Have Seen a Specified Employee

These reports will enable customers to export .CSV files which may then be used to populate the recipients list for a given Broadcast.

If you wish to enable these Reports for your Credible organization, please reach out to your OnCall Account Manager to learn more.

 

Exporting Client Information from OnCall Analytics Tab

 

You may export appointments data from the Analytics tab in OnCall which will populate some of the information for the Broadcasts. You may find the instructions on downloading Analytics data here.

Please note the following tips if you use OnCall Analytics to build your recipients CSV file:

  • The OnCall Analytics do not include the phone number field. You may need to collect this information from a separate source if you wish to send an SMS Broadcast.
  • The export will not split patients’ first and last names automatically. However, the Broadcast will only insert the patient’s name into the message if you choose to include that variable (see section above: “Using Variables in Broadcast Messages (Optional)”). 
    • You may use the patient’s full name from the Analytics export in both the first_name and last_name columns of the Broadcast CSV. You may then simply omit names from your Broadcast message, or, use the {{first_name}} variable which would populate the patient’s full name.
    • Alternatively, you may use a tool such as Microsoft Excel’s Text to Columns feature to separate the patients’ first and last names, should you wish to include only the patient’s first name in your Broadcast message.

 

Navigating to the Feature to Create a New Broadcast

Once the Broadcasts feature has been enabled for your account, you may find the feature by clicking the gear icon in the top right navigation bar, then "Platform configuration".

 

Click on the "Broadcasts" tab, then click the "+ New broadcast" button.

 

Populating the Broadcast Information

You will be prompted to enter a title to identify the Broadcast. The title is only for internal reference, and will not be seen by recipients of the Broadcast. 

Next, you will upload the list of recipients (see above: “Preparing the Broadcast Recipient List”). It's important to note that the template must follow these specifications:

  • Must be a .CSV file.
  • Must have at least the following column headers in this order: first_name, last_name, email_address, phone_number. You may choose to include additional columns if you wish to add variables to your Broadcast. Please see the section below to learn about using variables.
  • File size must not exceed 3MB

Once you’ve added a title and have uploaded a recipients .CSV file, click the “Next: Delivery” button in the top right corner:

 

Using Variables in Broadcast Messages (Optional)

You may wish to vary the content of the message based on the recipient, in which case you may use content variables.

For example, if you wish to include the recipient’s first name in the greeting, you would insert the following variable: {{first_name}}

When your Broadcast is sent, the recipient’s first name will be pulled from the first_name column in your recipient list .CSV file, and dynamically populated in the message.

By adding columns to your recipient list template, you can introduce additional variables to your message.

For example, you may wish to send a Broadcast to all clients with a balance owing where you specify the amount owed in the message. You could add two additional column to your recipient list .CSV file with the headers of balance_owing, and due_date, then populate the balance and payment due dates per recipient in your spreadsheet:

Note: Programs like Microsoft Excel may alter the formatting of dates, e.g., from ”March 31” to ”31-Mar”. Edit the formatting within Excel to display dates as desired.

 

Your Broadcast message could then be:

Hello {{first_name}},

Please note that your payment of {{balance_owing}} is due on {{due_date}}. If you have any questions, please call ABC Health at (515) 555-5555.

 

Upon sending, the {{first_name}, {{balance_owing}} and {{due date}} fields would be populated per recipient, as entered in your recipient list .CSV. Below is the email that was sent to the recipient:

 

Broadcast Delivery Settings

Delivery Time

Broadcasts may be sent immediately upon publishing or scheduled for some time in the future.

Select either “Now”, or “Schedule”. If you choose “Schedule”, set the date and time at which you wish to send the Broadcast. 

If scheduling for some time in the future, click into each of the Date and Time fields to either click or type your responses.

Note: the times displayed will reflect the timezone settings of your device. If you are using a laptop set to Eastern Standard Time, the times displayed in this step will also be displayed in EST.

 

Delivery Method

Select whether you wish to send the Broadcast via email and/or SMS. You must choose at least one method to proceed.

Once you’ve specified the delivery time and method, click the “Next: Content” button in the top right corner:

 

Creating the Broadcast Message(s)

This step is where you will create the content of your Broadcast. Whichever delivery methods you selected in the previous step, email and/or SMS, will appear as options in this step.

 

Email Broadcast

You will be prompted to enter a subject line and body of your email message. Email Broadcasts support rich text formatting, hyperlinks, and emojis.

You may wish to include information about how recipients can get in touch with your organization should they have additional questions.

As a reminder, if you included variables in your recipient list .CSV, you may insert those content variables into your message as instructed above.

 

SMS Broadcast

Type the content of your SMS Broadcast. Please note that only plain text is supported in SMS, and the character limit is lower for SMS Broadcasts.

If the SMS Broadcast exceeds 200 characters, certain carriers may send the Broadcast in two parts to the recipient, so concise messages are encouraged.

Given that the SMS will be sent via a generic number, you may wish to identify your organization in the message, or include information about how recipients can get in touch should they have additional questions.

As a reminder, if you included variables in your recipient list .CSV, you may insert those content variables into your message as instructed above.

 

Publishing the Broadcast

Once you have created your email and/or SMS messages in the Content step, you can publish your Broadcast by clicking the “Publish broadcast” button in the top right corner. A window will then appear in the foreground to confirm the publishing step:

 

 

As a reminder, the Broadcast will either be sent immediately upon publishing, or will be sent at the date and time specified in the Delivery step.

The Broadcast may take upwards of 15 minutes to send, depending on the number of recipients.

 

Deleting a Pending Broadcast

If you wish to delete a Broadcast that has been scheduled for a later time, you may do so by clicking on the icon with the three dots at the right end of the Broadcast, then clicking “Delete”:

 

This will stop the Broadcast from being sent to any recipients and remove the Broadcast from your list view.

You may not delete a Broadcast which has already been sent.

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