The FAMCare Blog

Sending Text Messages from your FAMCare or Clinical Pursuit System

Posted by Chris Freund on Jan 20, 2017 1:45:55 PM

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Often times it is convenient or necessary to send text messages from your FAMCare or Registry System. The current version of Visions Server (the engine that drives FAMCare and ClinicalPURSUIT) supports outgoing text messaging right out of the box with the SMS Outgoing Message Module.

How Does it Work?

Much like email notifications in FAMCare, text messages can be sent via Action Queues (scheduled workflows or trigger based when saving forms), and also PRE/POST ADD/EDIT tags if your organization has development access to create or modify Visions Server forms.

This is done using the SMSCONTENT command, and is exactly like the EMAILCONTENT command except instead of email addresses, you use phone numbers. The SUBJECT line becomes your actual text message. The BODY parameter is not used for SMS. Like the EMAILCONTENT command, you can string multiple phone numbers in a text by separating with a semi-colon. Unlike the EMAILCONTENT command, each text that goes out is distinct. If multiple phone numbers are specified, they are NOT sent as a group message.

Because Twilio is an international service, phone numbers need to be sent with a country code, so session variables or accommodations need to be made for this, but this is a straightforward process.

Future versions of the Visions Server will support media sending.

What Service is Used to Send Text Messages?

Currently, GVT supports Twilio services for SMS messages. To use Twilio, an organization signs up and immediately upgrades the account. Upgrading an account involves specifying a credit card that is automatically charged in (usually) $20.00 increments as the balance falls below a certain threshold.

Next, the organization obtains a phone number from Twilio. This is the number that will show as text messages are sent. By working with Twilio, for a fee, the organization can obtains a 5 digit convenience number. All of the setup is done online and can be accomplished quickly using a guide from GVT.

Twilio supports over 1,500 carriers worldwide, and strives to support as many carriers as possible as they come and go.

How Much Does it Cost?

There is a small fee to obtain a permanent phone number, and Twilio is about $1.00/month for the service. When sending to a U.S. phone number, each text is about ¾ cent. When sending internationally, the fees vary widely and these fees are shown on their website (twilio.com).

For example, sending a message to a Belize number costs 1 cent, but in Australia each text is almost 6 cents.

What is involved in setting up the Visions Server?

Setting up 3 system session variables: One for the phone number obtained, and two for identification and verification keys that are generated when setting up the Twilio account. GVT generally assists with this setup but it is also outlined in the GVT guide.

Is there any Built in Visions Server Functionality in Place?

Yes. There is an Action Queue template available that will text out reminders to clients for appointments 24 hours before hand. This can be customized easily.

There is an Action Queue available to send text messages to your employees by entering an inclement weather record. This is useful if your organization needs to shut down for a snow day, and the message can be tailored as the record is entered.

 

Topics: FAMCare Tips and Tools, Technology Speak, Implementation Plans

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