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How to set up appointment and time of scheduling reminders

How to set up appointment and time of scheduling reminders

You can send free voice, text/SMS, and email reminders to clients for their upcoming appointments. You can also send reminders right after creating a new appointment or right after rescheduling an existing appointment, which we call 'time of scheduling' reminders. 

Note: Voice, text/SMS, and email reminders are included in both the Essential and Plus Plans at no additional cost. Learn more about SimplePractice pricing and plans.

You can find details on the following topics in this guide: 


Setting up reminders

Here's how to set up client reminders:

  • Navigate to Settings > Client Reminders
  • Click the tab for the reminder type you want to enable: Email, Text, or Voice
  • Click the toggle button to enable the reminder type

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  • Select the number of hours before the appointment start time that you want to send reminders

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  • Repeat these steps for any additional reminder types you want to send

Note: You can enable all three types of reminders in your settings, but clients cannot receive all three types of reminders. Clients can receive voice or text reminders, and email reminders. They cannot receive both voice and text reminders. 

When you turn on reminders by switching the toggle to On, your reminders are enabled within your account. However, the reminders won't get sent to clients until you select to do so from each client's individual profile. See the Sending reminders to clients section below to learn how to do this. 

Tip: You can also enable client reminders when creating an individual or couple client profile. Read more about how to enable them here: Adding a client.

Note: Keep in mind that reminder messages will automatically get sent 24, 48, or 72 hours in advance, regardless of the day of the week or time of day it falls on. This means if your email reminders are set to get sent 24 hours in advance, a client who has an appointment on a Tuesday at 2 PM will receive a reminder on Monday at 2 PM.


Setting up time of scheduling reminders

You can choose to receive prompts to send appointment reminders to clients when you create new or reschedule appointments. Navigate to Settings > Client Reminders > Practice Prompts and click the toggle to switch it On.

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The prompts will ask if you'd like to send a reminder to the client. It will give you the option to choose what kind of reminder(s) to send to them, based on the reminder types you've enabled in your settings. 

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Note: If your client has incomplete documents and they have email reminders set up for completing documents, they'll receive two emails when an appointment reminder is sent. The second email will be a reminder to complete their documents via the Client Portal prior to their appointment. See How do I set up email reminders for my client to complete their intake forms? for additional details.


Customizing email and voice reminders

Tip: In group practices, the email and voice reminders are set practice-wide. Only Account Owners, Practice Managers, and Clinicians with Administrator Access can edit the template.

Now that you've enabled client reminders and assigned the intervals at which they'll be sent, you're ready to customize the reminder message in email and voicemails.

Note: Appointment reminders are only available with the Essential and Plus plans.

When you toggle a reminder On, the body of the reminder will appear. Here, you can edit and customize the message.

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  • Type in your custom message in the Message field 
    • You can also enter a Macro into your message that will automatically pull information into the reminder message from your settings and appointment details. 
    • Place your cursor where you want to add the macro, and then select a specific field from the dropdown options.
    • For example, anywhere you add the {client_first_name} macro, the client's first name will appear in the message so that the reminder is tailored to the individual client.

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To edit email reminders sent to Contacts of clients or Couple clients:

  • Go to Settings > Client Reminders > Email
  • Click Contact and Couple Emails

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You can customize email and voice reminders in the same way. To learn how to customize text reminders, see Customizing text reminders below. 

Note: Appointment reminder emails are sent to clients from yourprovider@simplepractice.com, which is a no-reply address. If a client responds to these emails, they'll receive an autoresponder email asking them to reach out to you directly. You can customize your reminder email message to include a note about reaching out to you via phone or email for questions or concerns.  


Customizing text reminders

The text reminder template makes customizing your messages simple, while populating the necessary appointment details.

Tip: In group practices, the text reminders are set practice-wide. Only Account Owners, Practice Managers, and Clinicians with Administrator Access can edit the template. At this time, only the practice phone number can be included in the reminder.

To get started, follow these steps:

  • Navigate to Settings > Client Reminders > Text
  • Enable text reminders by switching the toggle On 
  • Customize your text reminders by selecting the information you’d like to auto-populate
    • Select +Add Information

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    • Here, you can choose to add Appointment Date, Appointment Time, Client First Name, Client Full Name, Clinician Full Name, Location, Practice Name, and Practice Phone
    • You’ll see an example of what your customized message will look like on the right:

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  • You can also type in a custom message of up to 500 characters in your text reminders by typing in the box on the left
  • Select whether you want text reminders sent 24 hours, 48 hours, or 72 hours before an appointment

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  • Click Save
    • If you want to disable text appointment reminders, click Disable Text Reminders

Note: See Telehealth reminders below to learn how to update your Telehealth text reminders. 


Allowing clients to confirm or cancel through text reminders

You can also give clients the option to confirm and/or cancel appointments through text reminders. This allows your clients to communicate with you more regularly and promptly about their upcoming appointments, and can help you reduce no-shows. 

To enable these features, follow these steps: 

  • Navigate to Settings > Client Reminders > Text
  • Make sure that your text reminders are enabled and customized 
  • Select + Confirm/Cancel Link to give your clients the ability to confirm or cancel their upcoming appointments via text

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  • You can also select what type of confirm/cancel link you'd like to include in your reminder

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  • Choose Confirmation Link, Cancellation Link, or Confirmation & Cancellation Link
  • Click Save

You can view an example of what your clients would see in their text messages if you allow clients to confirm and/or cancel their appointments:

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The text reminders will include a clickable link that opens an Appointment Details page where the client can confirm or cancel their appointment. See Getting started guides for clients: How to confirm or cancel appointments to learn more. The PDF guide found in this link is also downloadable so you can share it with your clients to give instructions on confirming or cancelling their upcoming appointments via text.

Confirmed or Unconfirmed appointments

You can check the confirmed or unconfirmed status of a client’s appointment from 3 different places: 

  • Click the appointment on the Calendar to open the appointment flyout. If the client confirmed the appointment, you’ll see a Confirmed via text status.

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  • Go to the client’s Overview page. If the client confirmed the appointment, you’ll see a Confirmed status under their name.

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  • The Daily Agenda Email will list all of your appointments for the upcoming day, along with their confirmation status.

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Cancelled appointments

You can check for cancelled appointment statuses from 5 different places: 

  • Click the appointment on the Calendar to open the appointment flyout. If the appointment has been cancelled by the client, you’ll see a Cancelled via text status. The appointment will also appear in the yellow Cancelled status on the Calendar.

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  • Go to the client’s Overview page. If the appointment has been cancelled by the client, you’ll see a Cancelled status under their name.

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  • The Daily Agenda Email will list all of your appointments for the upcoming day, along with their cancellation status.

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  • The Account Activity will show you when a client cancelled their appointment via text, along with the cancellation reason they provided.

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Note: See Account Activity: Tracking changes and information access in your account to learn more about what’s tracked in Account Activity. 

  • You'll also receive an automated email right after a client cancels their appointment by text. 

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Telehealth reminders

Note: In group practices, the Telehealth reminders are set practice-wide. Only Account Owners, Practice Managers, and Clinicians with Administrator Access can edit the template.

If you offer Telehealth services to clients, you can customize the reminders that are sent for video appointments. 

Tip: See our Getting started with Telehealth guide for steps on Manually sharing a Telehealth appointment link.

After you've enabled your reminders by following the steps in the Setting up reminders section, you can customize your Telehealth Email Message and/or your Text Telehealth Reminder. Please note that there isn’t an option to send Telehealth-specific reminders via Voice.

Email Telehealth reminder: 

  • Navigate to Settings > Client Reminders > Email
  • Scroll down and click Edit in the Telehealth Email Message field

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  • Customize the message as needed
    • The Telehealth Email Message will include the link to join the Telehealth call
    • If you accidentally delete the Client Video Link from the Telehealth Email Message, you can use the Appointment Reminder Links macro to re-enter it into the message

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  • Click Save

Text Telehealth reminder

This is the text reminder that will go out to the client about 10 minutes before the appointment that can contain the link to the Telehealth appointment if you choose to include it. 

  • Navigate to Settings > Client Reminders > Text 
  • Click the Telehealth Reminders tab 

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  • Customize your Telehealth text reminders by selecting the pieces of information you’d like to auto-populate
    • Select + Add Information

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    • Here, you can choose to add Appointment Date, Appointment Time, Client First Name, Client Full Name, Clinician Full Name, Location, Practice Name, and Practice Phone
    • You can view an example of what your text message would look like on the right

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  • You can also choose to include a video appointment link by selecting + Client Video Link

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  • Click Save 

If email and text reminders are enabled, the Telehealth Email Reminder and the Text Appointment Reminder will be sent out according to the time frame selected for each reminder type. For Telehealth appointments, an additional email and Text Telehealth Reminder are sent to the client 10 minutes prior to the start time of their appointment. Please note that the exact time the client receives the reminder may vary based on their cell phone carrier.

Make sure to click Done to save any changes to appointments on your Calendar. If you have an appointment that was previously set as a non-Telehealth appointment and you switch the location to Video Office to make it a Telehealth appointment, this change will only save if you click Done. If you don't, your client won't receive the email with a link to join the Telehealth call.

Note: To learn more about Telehealth, see Getting started with Telehealth and Telehealth FAQs

Tip: Telehealth appointment reminders are available to customers that enable Telehealth on the Starter plan. 


Sending reminders to clients

Now that you've set up your appointment reminders, you're ready to send them to clients.

For a client to receive appointment reminders, you need to first indicate that you have the client's consent to contact them. You can then select which reminder types the client should receive.

Note: For information on the Complete Documents email reminders, see How do I set up email reminders for my client to complete their intake forms?

To do this:

  • Navigate to a client’s Overview page > Edit
  • Check the box(es) to indicate that you have the client's consent 
    • For voice message consent, check Voice message ok 
    • For text message consent, check Text message ok 
    • For email consent, check Email ok

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Note: If a client has already filled out the Demographics form as part of their intake through the Client Portal, they may have already indicated consent for email, voice, and/or text communication electronically. If so, the consent box(es) will already be checked.

  • Check the box for the type of reminder(s) you want to send 
    • For text/voice reminders, check Send text/voice appointment reminders box and select Voice or Text 
    • Under Send email reminders for:
      • Check Appointments for appointment email reminders
      • Check Completing documents for completing document email reminders

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  • Click Save Client 

This client will now begin receiving reminders before each appointment. 


Important details to know

  • Keep in mind that if you don't have time of scheduling reminders enabled, you should make sure to create appointments for the future with enough time for the reminders to get sent. For example, if you have email reminders set to send 48 hours in advance but you schedule the appointment one day in advance, the client will not receive a reminder because the window has already passed. 
  • Our email appointments reminders are one-way only. The emails are sent from no-reply@simplepractice.com. If a client replies to that email, you will not be notified and they will receive a reply message saying "We're sorry, your email to no-reply@simplepractice.com could not be delivered."
  • You can choose to send either a voice or text in addition to an email reminder (not all three). A client cannot receive both voice and text reminders.
  • Keep in mind that if a client allows an appointment reminder to go to voicemail, the message may be cut off depending on the cell phone provider's settings.
  • If a client accidentally unsubscribes from email or text appointment reminders, you can view and override this by switching the appointment reminder back on. Navigate to the client's Overview page > Edit to do so. It's recommended to check with the client to verify whether or not they meant to unsubscribe from the reminders to ensure that you still have their consent.
  • Only one message for each reminder type can be saved.
  • There are a few different phone numbers that SimplePractice uses to send out text message reminders. Various clients may receive reminders through different phone numbers, but each client will receive reminders from the same number.

FAQs

Below are some commonly asked questions about the appointment reminders feature: 


How can I tell if an appointment was confirmed or cancelled by text?

You can check the status of a client’s upcoming appointment from 3 different places: the appointment flyout window on the Calendar, the client’s Overview page, or the Daily Agenda Email

See Allowing clients to confirm or cancel through text reminders above for more information.


I see clients in multiple time zones. How do I send appointment reminders that show their local time zone?

Appointment reminders sent to your clients will reflect the time zone that’s set at Settings > My Practice > Details. We don’t offer functionality to populate appointment reminders in a timezone different from that of your practice's.

If your client’s email address is connected to an external calendar such as Google Calendar, the calendar invite will show the appointment time in your client’s time zone at the top of the email.

Note: The body of the email reminder will still contain the appointment time in your practice’s time zone. 

If you’re working with clients in other timezones, we recommend putting a disclaimer for this in your appointment reminder templates at Settings > Client Reminders. See the following sections for more information on editing appointment reminders:


My only office location is Telehealth and I don’t want my clients to see my home address. How will the location appear?

Telehealth appointment reminders don’t include an address. A Telehealth reminder message will say that the appointment will be held via Telehealth and instructs clients to use a link to join virtually. See Telehealth reminders above for more details. 

You can also choose to omit the Appointment Address option from text reminders entirely using the customization settings. See Customizing text reminders above to learn how.


Why can I no longer send reminders out 36 hours before the start of the appointment?

Many of our customers prefer the 24, 48, or 72 hour reminders because the text messages get sent at a time when clients are likely to check their devices. The 36 hour time frame was not always ideal for clients to receive text messages as they could arrive early in the mornings or late in the evenings. With this in mind, text message reminders have been streamlined with the options to send them either 24, 48, or 72 hours before appointment start times.

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