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  • Raffi Bilek

What About Text/Email Reminders?

Lots of folks get all excited about sending clients appointment reminders. I’ll be honest, this is not a big thing for me, largely, I think, because my private practice is private pay (no insurance), so no-shows aren’t a big deal, because I’m allowed to charge them.

But maybe you want to send reminders anyway because you’re nicer than I am, or maybe you do take insurance or other kinds of payers and it’s beneficial for you to send reminders. Totally get it.

Here are the options you have for sending reminders. I don’t want to claim this is a comprehensive list, because as I said, I haven’t had call for such functionality, but it may well be at this point.

Option #1 – Leave it to the client

If you invite clients to your Google calendar event, then they can add that to their calendar (assuming they have one), and set up their own reminders. Perhaps you’d want to include a note about doing so in a confirmation email or something.

The obvious drawback of this is that you’re relying on them to do that, and that is subject to the same weakness as asking them to remember the appointment in the first place.

Note also that if you invite a client to an appointment that has Google Meet integrated into it, the client can pop into the meeting without you needing to admit them. I do not like that at all. You get caught in all kinds of awkward situations that way (like mid-blowing-of-nose or something).

Option #2: GReminders

GReminders is a paid service that links up with Workspace and sends out reminders for you. (Heads up, that's an affiliate link.)

It’s reasonably priced – $27/month for a HIPAA compliant package – and I hear it works pretty well. (Testing it out is on my list of things to do, but to be fair it’s not all that high up on said list.) I imagine that once you set it up it works pretty seamlessly. But it is another monthly expense.

(It also comes with an online scheduling system, which typically is its own cost, so if you're using both features, you may well be saving money over other scheduling systems anyway!)

Option #3: Code it into your system.

You can also tinker with Google to have it send out reminders for you. And by "you" I mean "me," or possibly some fellow on Fiverr or something. It takes programming a script in Google Apps Script. So you’d have to pay to have it created (or learn how to do it on your own, which I would wager if you are reading this is not something you feel applies to you).

This would cost you a one-time fee (likely not that much, depending who’s doing it for you and how your system is currently set up) but would not be an ongoing cost. The basic code for this is actually pretty simple; the potentially more complicated part is just fitting it into your existing system. (If you're setting up your system from scratch with me, it's no problem at all!) It's also super simple if you're a solo practitioner, without other therapists.

Sending automated emails this way is pretty straightforward; texting is possible, but much less straightforward (you’d have to know what carrier the client has so that you could determine how to email a text message to a phone). Both are of these, of course, are subject to HIPAA issues (see here regarding email).

As far as I know, them’s the options. Feel free to be in touch if you’d like to discuss option #3.

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