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When to respond to a patient via SMS

It is not always appropriate or necessary to message a patient via our post-consult email messaging functionality. You may want to send a short message that is received by the patient more quickly, or you may want to message a patient who has not completed an eConsult.

Perhaps a patient has consulted for something that they can find on the NHS website or go to their local pharmacy for, or you’d like them to send another eConsult in a few weeks to see how they’re progressing (e.g. completing a review questionnaire – asthma, contraception, blood pressure etc).

Sending your patient an SMS (text message) is perfect for patients who need a quick response that can fit in 160 characters. That’s the length of this paragraph.


How to use the SMS feature

The SMS functionality is currently only available through the eConsult Toolbar.

When inputting a mobile number

You can input a patient's phone number and send them a message through the 'Messaging' icon on the eConsult toolbar. You can either write your own message or amend one of the templates provided for you. Take note of the character count as you write your message - at the moment you have 160 characters to play with.

Once you've written your message and are happy with the content, you can send your message. You'll also be prompted to copy the message so that you can save it to the patient's clinical record. The sender name on the SMS your patient receives will be 'GP Surgery'.

From the 'Messaging icon' on the toolbar, you'll be asked to input the 6-digit consultation PIN from the eConsult report. You'll then be shown your available response options - email or SMS.

Clicking the SMS response option allows you to input a telephone number and to select whether you want to write your own message or adapt an existing template.

Once you've inputted a valid telephone number and have written your message, you can then click 'Send Message'.


When reading a mobile number from the clinical system

This feature is currently only available for EMIS customers, but we are working to deliver this for all clinical systems.

You can choose to read the patient's number from their EMIS record, or you can input a phone number and send them a message through the 'Messaging' icon on the eConsult toolbar.

First, you'll need to follow these steps to sync your EMIS Web instance to the toolbar.

In the 'Messaging' icon on the toolbar, you'll see a range of options for how you can respond to the patient. Any telephone numbers in the patient's record will show as options for sending an SMS.

If the patient doesn't have any phone numbers in EMIS, this option won't be available. You can still choose the 'Send SMS to any number' option to send them a text to the number provided within their eConsult.

If you chose to input a phone number, you can do so on the below screen. This number won't be saved to the record.

You can either write your own message or amend one of the templates provided for you. Take note of the character count as you write your message - at the moment you have 160 characters to play with.

Once you've written your message and are happy with the content, you can send your message. You'll also be prompted to save the message to the patient's clinical record. The sender name on the SMS your patient receives will be 'GP Surgery'.


Future developments

Our SMS feature initially supports a one-way message from the practice to the patient, no response is allowed. However, we're working on expanding the SMS functionality to include:

  • Multipart SMS (the ability to write a text message of more than 160 characters that will display as one, longer text message when received).

  • Two-way SMS (a message to the patient and a response from the patient to the practice.

  • The ability to use SMS to send patients a link to a specific eConsult questionnaire (e.g. to signpost them to the eConsult questionnaire that you would like them to complete).

Visit the eConsult Roadmap to share your thoughts and shape the future of eConsult!


If you have any questions or you feel that this article could be improved, please feel free to give us some feedback by emailing us, pressing the emojis below or using the chat button on the bottom right-hand side of this page to speak to one of the eConsult team.

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