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Getting started with Secure Messaging

Getting started with Secure Messaging


Secure Messaging brings safe, secure, and HIPAA compliant communication to SimplePractice, making it easy to securely communicate with your clients and team members all in one place.

Note: Secure Messaging is available on the Essential and Plus Plans. To learn more about our plans and pricing, see SimplePractice Pricing page.

In this guide, we'll cover:


Enabling Secure Messaging

To message your clients, Secure Messaging must first be enabled on both the practice level and the individual client level.

To enable Secure Messaging for clients at the practice level:

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  • Click the toggle On next to Secure Messaging with Clients is

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  • You also have the option to Automatically allow secure messaging for all new clients so anyone given Client Portal access can secure message

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Note: If you’ve added team members to your account, you must first switch Secure Messaging On for your team before you can do so for your clients.

  • You can enable Secure Messaging between yourself and individual clients from that page, or from a client’s Overview page > Edit > Client Portal tab

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Note: When a user sends a Secure Message and the recipient doesn’t read the message after 10-20 minutes, a notification email will be sent automatically.


Sending messages to your clients

Once Secure Messaging is enabled for a client, you can easily send them Secure Messages from a computer or the SimplePractice mobile app. When a client receives a Secure Message, they’ll also receive an email containing a Client Portal login link that will allow them to access the message.

To send a Secure Message, click Messages on the top navigation bar. 

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You can access your Secure Messages at any time by clicking Messages on the left side of your Calendar. You can either select one of your past conversations to continue, or you can choose to start a new conversation by selecting the New Message icon.

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When you create a new message, you’ll see a list of clients and team members who you've recently messaged, as well as a search bar. Once you select a client to message, you’ll see the option to Enable Secure Messaging to start the chat if they don’t have Secure Messaging enabled.

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If the client’s Secure Messaging has already been enabled, you can start writing your Secure Message.

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To send a message, press enter or return on your keyboard.

When you send a Secure Message, your client will receive an email alerting them that you’ve messaged them.

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Note: If a client uses the SimplePractice Client Portal mobile app, they can also enable push notifications for new messages. Tapping the push notification will open the conversation, which they can view and respond to within the app. For more information, see The SimplePractice Client Portal mobile app.

Your client can open the email from either their desktop or mobile device. They'll be able to view the message and reply back without having to sign in for 24 hours. After 24 hours, clients will have to use their email address to request an Instant Sign In link to login and access your message, unless they're using Google sign-in. Clients are required to log in to keep Secure Messaging HIPAA compliant.

You'll see your client's response in your Secure Messages and will be alerted by a red bubble next to the Messages button.

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Setting an away message for Secure Messaging

You can turn on an away message when you’re unavailable to respond to Secure Messages from clients.

To enable an away message:

  • Click Messages on the top navigation bar
  • Toggle the Away message to clients is to On
    • When away message is toggled on, (Away) will be displayed next to Messages in the top navigation bar

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Turning on away message in Secure Messaging will display a banner in the Client Portal when a client attempts to send you a Secure Message. 

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The client’s message will still be delivered to you. (Away) will also be displayed next to your name at the top of the message window.

Note: This banner can’t be dismissed by the client and will display consistently until you’ve toggled the away message Off.

You can customize your away message within the character limit of 600 characters. To do this: 

  • Click Customize

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  • Type your customized message
  • Click Save

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The customized away message will display to the client in the Client Portal.

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Disabling Secure Messaging for a client

If you need to disable Secure Messaging for a client, you can do so from their individual file. To do this: 

  • Navigate to the client's Overview page
  • Click Edit > Client Portal
  • Uncheck the Use secure messaging box

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  • Click Save Features

Handling PHI sent to the wrong client

If you accidentally sent PHI to the wrong client, you can delete the message. To do this:

  • Navigate to the message in question
  • Select the message you wish to remove by clicking the red trash can icon

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  • Click Remove

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  • Both you and your client will see that a message has been removed

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Important: Secure Messages that have been removed are included in data export transcripts and marked as having been removed.


Enabling Secure Messaging for your team

You can enable or disable Secure Messaging for your team members at any time. To do this:

  • Navigate to Settings > Messaging > Secure messaging > Team members
  • Select or deselect the Enabled box next to each team member's name

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  • Click Save

Sending messages to your team

Secure Messaging works the same way for your team as it does with clients, but the potential uses depend on each of your team members' role:

  • Billers and Schedulers can send clinicians direct Secure Messages with their questions, notes, or actions required
  • Schedulers can instantly inform clinicians when a client calls or leaves a message
  • Billers can easily communicate about insurance information for a specific client
  • Supervisors can advise interns directly in SimplePractice
  • Clinicians can collaborate with other clinicians in your practice, coordinate office scheduling, and even share SimplePractice tips

Note: Clinicians will only be able to message clients if they have been granted client access; however, any team member with the Biller or Scheduler role will have the ability to message any client. To learn more about granting team members client access, see Updating a clinician’s access level.


Sending messages from your mobile device

You can send and receive Secure Messages from your SimplePractice app on iOS or Android, to conveniently initiate conversations with both team members and clients. Team members and clients will first need to have Secure Messaging enabled. To do so, you’ll want to enable it from the web app on your computer. For detailed instructions, see Enabling Secure Messaging.

Note: You can respond to any existing conversation when Secure Messaging in the mobile app.


Enable push notifications

You can opt to receive push notifications on your mobile device so you can respond to Secure Messages in a timely manner directly from the SimplePractice mobile app. When you tap on the notification, your app will open so that you can send a HIPAA compliant response to your clients and team members.

Important: If you're signed into SimplePractice when a client sends you a message, you'll be notified in the Messages section of your account. If the message is left unread for longer than 10 minutes, you’ll also receive an email notifying you of the Secure Message.

To access the push notification management screen:

  • Open the SimplePractice mobile app
  • Tap the three lines in the top left

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  • Select Settings
  • Tap Push Notifications

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There are four types of push notifications available in the mobile app, and you can customize which ones you'd like to receive. Notifications with the check mark are enabled. If you want to turn off a notification, tap it to remove the check mark.

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Note: Clients can also enable push notifications for new messages on the SimplePractice Client Portal mobile app

See the table below for a description of each type of push notification. 

Alert type

Alert description

Appointment Alerts

When an appointment is about to start

New Message

When a new Secure Message is received

Appointment Request Alerts

When a new appointment has been requested

Video Appointment Alerts When a video appointment is about to start

You can choose to receive all, some, or none of these push notifications.

Note: If you're experiencing any issues with accessing push notifications, we recommend upgrading to the latest version of the mobile app. See Updating your SimplePractice app for more information.


Viewing messaging transcripts

Team members with access to a client’s profile can see a history of the Secure Messaging conversations had between that client, any contacts for the client, and the practice team members. To view transcripts for a client or contact:

  • Navigate to the client’s Overview page
  • Click Messages
  • Select View conversation transcripts

  • Choose the relevant conversation participants 

If you’d like to save a conversation, or a portion of a conversation to the client’s Overview page, you can copy and paste the text into a chart note. To do this:

  • Check the box next to the messages you want to copy
  • Click Copy

  • In the Add Chart Note box, paste the text
  • Click + Add Note

For more information on adding chart notes, see Using chart notes.

Note: Anyone with access to a client’s profile will be able to view their Secure Messaging transcripts. For more information on team member access levels, see Team member roles and access levels.

An Account Owner or practice manager with the permission to export client data can access all Secure Messaging records between team members by performing a complete data export. To learn more, see How do I download a record of Secure Messages between my team members?


FAQs


Is there a way for Secure Messaging to be enabled by default when I create a new client?

Yes, you can automatically grant clients access to use Secure Messaging when you create their file in SimplePractice. To do this:

  • Navigate to Settings > Messaging > Secure messaging
  • Check the box for Automatically allow secure messaging for all new clients

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Can clients Secure Message non-clinical team members (Biller/Scheduler/Supervisor)?

Clients can message Practice Managers, Billers, and Schedulers. However, they can only message Supervisors if that team member has access to their client profile, or if they also have the Biller or Scheduler role.


Can non-clinical team members use Secure Messaging?

Non-clinical team members can send Secure Messages to other team members and clients, as long as Secure Messaging is enabled for them at the account level. To turn on Secure Messaging for team members, see Enabling Secure Messaging for your team.


Can clients Secure Message other clinicians?

Clients are only able to initiate a Secure Message with their primary clinician. However, if another clinician with access to the client's profile initiates a conversation via Secure Messaging, the client will be able to respond to that message and can reach out to that clinician in the future through the same exchange.


How do I download a record of Secure Messages between my team members?

To get a record of Secure Messages between team members, the Account Owner or a practice manager with the permission to export client data can make a complete data export. To do this: 

  • Navigate to Settings > Practice > Data export
  • Click Start export
  • Select All clients in the practice
    • If you’d like to view the Secure Messages between a certain clinician and other team members, select All clients for one clinician instead
  • Choose Complete

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    • Although recommended, you can uncheck the box to Require a password to open file
    • If you previously selected All clients for one clinician, choose the clinician under Select a primary clinician
  • Click Export

Once these steps are completed, allow some time for the data export to be generated. When it’s ready, you’ll see Ready to download for the export, which you can click to download the export file.

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Note: If you had required a password to open the file, you’ll also want to select Copy under the Password column.

After the file is downloaded, follow the steps below:

  • Open the downloaded file on your computer
    • Paste the password if prompted
  • View the Secure messages folder

The record between two team members will appear as a .txt file with their names.

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Note: To learn more about exporting your practice’s data, see Exporting data for group practices.


Can I set up an automated response for Secure Messages? 

If you’re going to be unavailable, you can enable an away message to respond to Secure Messages. However, it's not possible to establish an automated response for Secure Messages unless the Away status has been toggled on.

For additional information, see Setting an away message for Secure Messaging.


Are there limits for Secure Messages?

Each Secure Message has a limit of 5,000 characters. There’s no limit to how many Secure Messages you can send.


Can I use emojis in Secure Messages?

Yes, emojis can be used in Secure Messaging utilizing emoji codes. 

Some examples of emoji codes include:

  • :grin:
  • :smile:
  • :thumbsup:

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Can I remind clients to complete documents using Secure Messaging?

While you can't set up automated Secure Messages, you can enable automated reminders for clients to complete pending documents. To do this, navigate to the client’s Client info tab and toggle Incomplete documents to On.

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This reminder will be sent at a set time before the client’s upcoming appointment, so long as there’s documentation that they haven’t yet completed. Navigate to Settings > Client notifications > Email to adjust how long before an appointment this reminder will be sent.

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