Many providers choose to use secure messaging to communicate with their clients asynchronously or in situations where a video or in-person appointment is unsuitable. This guide will elaborate on some best practices all providers and clients should be aware of when using secure messaging appointments.
Jump ahead to a section of this article:
- Creating Appointments on a Desktop Device
- Creating Appointments on a Mobile Device
- Creating Group Messaging Appointments
- Secure Messaging Appointment Best Practices
Creating Appointments on a Desktop Device
Click the Messages tab located at the top of the window.
Click on the Create New Conversation button.
Enter the information for your appointment. Make sure you are in the correct division, select the correct provider, specify a date and time when you'd like the message conversation to begin, and specify the participant or client.
Please note: if you will not be collecting a Fee using OnCall's integrated billing tool, enter "0" in the Fee field. Additionally, if you want to start a messaging session instantly, please do not fill out "Date" and "Time" fields in the appointment creation card.
Your client will receive an e-mail invitation to join the messaging conversation. They will be prompted to click Visit your Account to get started. When you are ready to get started, it is suggested that you send a welcome/greeting message to your client. Once the session has begun, you and your client can securely send text-based messages and file attachments.
Optional - Once the conversation has been created, you will have the opportunity to customize an announcement that clients will see across the top of their screen when in a secure messaging appointment. This announcement is a great place to set expectations about how often you will be responding or provide contact information in case of an emergency situation, etc. The way clients see their announcements would be the same as you, except they wouldn’t have editing capabilities.
To change the default announcement while using a desktop or laptop device, access the messaging conversation you wish to change, click "edit", enter the announcement in the Announcement bar, and finish by clicking "save."
To change the default announcement on mobile devices, click into the messaging conversation and the select the pencil icon. Enter your message and click 'save' when you are done editing the Announcement message (maximum 120 characters).
Important! Only providers can initiate secure messaging conversations with clients. Providers MUST message the client first to open and start the messaging appointment.
When you have finished the session, please click the blue Complete button to close the messaging session. Once completed, clients will not be able to send additional messages until a new secure messaging session or appointment is created or scheduled by you.
If a Fee has been set for the session or appointment, payment will be processed. Both yourself and your client will receive an e-mail receipt for your records.
Creating Appointments on a Mobile Device
The following steps will help you to use messaging on your mobile device. To create a messaging appointment on your mobile device, begin by logging in to your mobile app. If you need to download the app, check either the Google Play Store, or the Apple Store.
Once logged in to your app, click on the Messages tab. This will navigate you to the main messages screen.
In the messaging window, click on the invite button on the top right hand corner to create a new messaging conversation.
From here, you will be prompted to add in the participant's name, email address, fee and a start date (Optional - If you set a date for the messaging session, you will only be able to start messaging at that predetermined date and time. If there is no date and time, you can start messaging right away).
Once you have entered your client's information, click on 'OK'.
Once the appointment has been created, you can send messages to your client(s). Simply type a message into the message field, and click enter.
To complete a messaging conversation, click on the 'Complete' button in the top right hand corner of the messaging conversation.
Best Practices for Secure Messaging Appointments
1. Don't Book Tomorrow What you Can Book Today!
As a provider, it is important to always book appointments at least 24 hours in advance. This gives you and your clients leeway in terms of cancellations, rescheduling, and ensuring both parties are prepared for their messaging appointment.
2. Customize Your Announcement
Once the conversation has been created, you will have the opportunity to customize the announcement clients will see at the top of the messaging appointment. This is a great place to set the client's expectations about response time, who to contact in case of an emergency, or a short description of how messaging works in your practice. To change the default announcement, simply click "edit", enter the new announcement, then click "save."
Please ensure no matter what your custom messaging announcement is, clients should be aware that this cannot, and should not, replace an emergency contact service.
Here are a few examples:
"Please note, this messaging system is not designed for emergencies. If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 911."
"Messaging is a secure way for provider-client conversations to take place. Please ensure you are in front of your device at least 10 minutes before the scheduled appointment time."
"During messaging conversations, the response time will be between 5-10 minutes. Please wait for your provider to respond to your message."
3. Setting Expectations with Clients
As opposed to other messaging tools like email, or instant messaging, OnCall Health is completely encrypted, meaning it is perfect for provider-patient conversations. Setting expectations with clients prior to any messaging appointments will ensure a smooth messaging appointment.
Messages will go through immediately, but it is up to individual providers to decide the frequency at which they will respond.
It is also important for patients and providers to note that there is currently no notification system for OnCall Health messages. Therefore, providers must monitor the conversation for updates to see when a new message has come through (in the case of asynchronous message sessions).
4. Complete is Forever
Before clicking 'Complete', ensure that there is nothing further you need to send to your client. Once a messaging appointment is closed, it cannot be re-opened. No further messages can be sent by clients until a new appointment is created.
If there are any fees associated with your messaging appointment, clicking 'Complete' will charge the client's card and automatically generate an invoice which is sent simultaneously to your email.
How to Create Group Messaging Appointments
Group messaging will allow you to create messaging appointments up to 25 participants, whether it be patients or colleagues. Whether you are looking to share a file with your most recent group session, discuss the contents of your session, or do some collaborative teamwork, you can use group messaging in any way that suits your needs! Here is how to get started:
Click the Messages tab located at the top of the window and click on ‘Create new Conversation’. A new tab will open to allow you to create your messaging conversation.
Messaging conversations can be immediate or scheduled. To start an immediate conversation, leave the date & time blank. To create a scheduled (future) conversation, enter the date & time. To add multiple participants, click on ‘Add Participant’.
Please note: If you want to charge your clients, please enter the amount on the Fee field. If you don't want to charge your clients, please enter "0". If you don't use payment processing through your account, you will not see a Fee field.
When you are done, click ‘Create New Conversation’.
Your new conversation will populate on your messaging list on the left hand side under ‘Active’. Select your conversation from your messages list. You may begin chatting with your group!
As the host, you will be able to view your participants emails when clicking on the drop down beside your participant name.
Note: Your participants will be able to see other participant names, but never their email addresses.
To send files to your participants, click on the paper clip icon in your attachments list on the right hand side.
All of your participants will be selected to receive the file by default. If you’d like to hide the file, make sure to deselect the participant name before you click Submit.
You will not be able to delete the file after uploading, so make sure you are sending the right file to the right participants!
To send forms to your participants, click on the paper clip in your attachments list on the right hand side and click on ‘Assign a form’. Select the form you want to send and select the participant you want to send it to from the ‘Select Participant’ button.
To download a copy of your chat conversation for your records, click on the ellipses and click ‘Export to .csv’.
Once you have completed the conversation, click on ‘Complete’. Your conversation will appear in ‘Archived’ messages.
The participants will be charged according to the amount you have entered for each of them in the Fee field before the session or appointment. If your participants are missing payment information, you will get a confirmation message informing you of the missing payment information. If you'd like to collect the payment, we recommend you do not complete the conversation and reach out to your participant to enter in their payment information. Once they have done so, you may come back and Complete the conversation to process the payment.
Once your conversation is ‘Archived’, participants are no longer able to send or receive messages. You will be able to read your conversation and access any files and forms that were shared.
If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.