Workflow Automation

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Introduction to Workflow Automation

Workflow Automation is a tool that helps practices automate common tasks, such as responding to patient inquiries or triaging messages to the appropriate person. We built workflows to help you think creatively about ways to achieve the highest level of care and decrease time on administrative overhead. We'll go over common workflow automations that practices use.


Automation: Simple automated reply

You can establish an Automation that simply responds to any inbound communication. This allows you to make your patients feel heard, even if you can't immediately reply to their message. 

You can set up automated replies directly from the Spruce app by visiting your settings and selecting "Auto-replies." However, our support team can help out with many options to tailor it to your needs:

  • You can limit how often the automated message will send. For example, you can have it send only once in a three-hour time span. This way, if a patient sends two messages in a row, they won't receive the automatic reply twice. 
  • You can select the types of inbound communication that will trigger the automated reply from the following: email, fax, SMS text messages, secure message, and phone calls. 
  • You can set conditions that limit when the automated reply will trigger. For example, set the condition to only send the automated message if a provider has not sent a message to that patient within the last hour. This way, the automated message will not send while a provider is in the middle of communicating with a patient. 
  • You can compose the message and specify the sender of the message. For example, you can select that the message is sent from a specific provider, or that the message is sent from the organization. 


Recipe

Each Automation contains three parts, the WHEN (Trigger), the IF (Conditions), and the THEN (Action). Triggers and Actions are required, but Conditions are optional. 

Here is the Recipe for this simple automated reply

WHEN (Trigger)   When a patient contacts the practice via email, fax, SMS, or secure message;
IF (Conditions)  
If there is no active conversation in progress, indicated by the fact that no provider has messaged the patient within the last 3 hours;
THEN (Action)   

Then post a message to the conversation

  • Select the sender for the message (from: SpruceTutorials)
  • Write the message text ("Thank you for contacting our practice! We have received your message and we will be in contact as soon as we can.")

Automation: Spruce Buttons

Spruce Buttons are structured options that can be included in secure and SMS messages to patients. Buttons allow you to build custom series of Automation where each Button that a patient selects initiates a subsequent Workflow.

Spruce Buttons are designed to work similarly to a phone tree; for example, instead of selecting option 1 for appointments, there is a Button labeled [Appointments] included in an secure app-to-app or SMS message. Patients can easily select from the Buttons you offer to voice their needs, and any associated Automation can provide timely, relevant information in response.

Benefits of Spruce Buttons

1
Enable providers to easily capture patient intent 
2
Provide clear calls-to-action in secure messages
3
Give patients structured options, like a phone tree, in secure and SMS messages
4
Enable providers to design sequential Automation based on patient input

Use cases

You can also design your own ways to use Spruce Buttons in Automations. Here are two quick examples of Spruce Buttons in practice:

Welcome to Spruce

  • Include Buttons in an automated message that prompts patients to select which doctor they want to speak with. When they make a selection, the conversation automatically gets assigned to that doctor. Specifically, each healthcare provider can have their own name within a Spruce button, so that when their name is selected, they'll get alerted and patients can receive a response. 
  • Include Buttons in an automated welcome message that gets sent once a patient downloads the Spruce app and creates an account. This gives patients structured options for what to do next once they are in the app. Their options can include: "Schedule an Appointment, Refill a Prescription, Speak to a doctor, Urgent." You can then determine the specific response they receive when they select a particular option, and you can get alerted for certain options.

How to start using Spruce Buttons

Spruce Buttons are just one part of Workflow Automation. If you have designed an Automated Workflow using Buttons that you'd like to implement, please message Spruce Support from the Spruce app, or send an email to support@sprucehealth.com, and we will be happy to help.


Automation: Patient assignment 

As we mentioned briefly above, you can use this the patient assignment automation to automatically assign patient conversations to the correct doctor. This reduces the manual action of assigning each conversation every time there is a new message. Once the conversation has been assigned to a given doctor, it will appear in their "Mine" filter, and will not be visible in the general Inbox filter while it is assigned to this doctor. This allows you to clear up your Inbox, and avoid sifting through conversations that don't pertain to you. This Automation requires that your organization is using Conversation Assignment in Spruce.

To maintain organization, this Automation uses a condition that says the automatic assignment will only happen when the conversation currently lacks an assignment. 

This automation will include  Spruce Buttons, which we covered above in the previous section. Spruce Buttons are visual options patients can select when using the Spruce app. They can be customized to trigger subsequent Automations when selected by a patient. In this example, the Buttons correspond to the names of the doctors in the sample practice:

  • [Dr. Wexler] 
  • [Dr. Abrams] 
  • [Dr. Castro] 
  • [Dr. Bevers] 

After you define the Spruce Buttons, you can define the action that occurs when a Button is selected. For example, when a patient selects  [Dr. Wexler], the conversation will automatically be assigned to Dr. Wexler, who can then initiate contact with the patient. The conversation will be removed from the general Inbox and will populate in Dr. Wexler's "Mine" filter. 

In addition, this Automation automatically adds a tag to the conversation corresponding with the correct doctor. For example, if a patient selects [Dr. Wexler], the tag "Wexler" will be added to the conversation.


Recipe

Each Automation contains three parts, the  Trigger (WHEN), the Conditions (IF), and the Action (THEN). Triggers and Actions are required, but Conditions are optional. 

Here is the  Recipe for this patient assignment Automations

WHEN (Trigger) When a patient sends a secure message in the Spruce app;
IF (Conditions) The patient conversation is currently unassigned (lacks an assignment); 
THEN (Action) Post a message to the conversation that includes Buttons and assign the conversation Select the sender for the message (from: Spruce Tutorials)  
  • Compose the message text ("Please select the doctor you wish to speak with, and they will reply at their earliest convenience. If this is an emergency, please dial 911 or go to your nearest emergency room."
  • Define Buttons to be sent within the message: [Dr. Wexler] [Dr. Abrams] [Dr. Bevers] [Dr. Castro] 
  • Configure a subsequent Automation for each Button Applies a tag ("Wexler," "Abrams," "Bevers," or "Castro") 
  • Assigns the conversation to that doctor


Automation: Invitation to the Spruce app 

You can use this Automation to efficiently transition your patients from sending you standard SMS text messages to using the secure Spruce app. With this Automation, anytime a patient sends a standard SMS text message to your practice phone number, they will receive an automated reply prompting them to download the Spruce app for secure messaging.

The message that is sent in this Automation can be sent out based on Conditions. For example, you can set a Condition to only send the message if there have been no recent messages from the doctor. This would prevent the automated message from interrupting an active conversation. 

You can also set a Condition to limit the frequency at which the message is sent. For example, you could have the message sent only once per day. This way, if a patient is actively messaging your practice about an issue, they will only receive the automated text one time. 

You can compose the message you wish to be sent and personalize it using your SpruceLink. This will allow patients to easily create a Spruce account as your patient. If you do not have a Spruce Link, please contact the Spruce Support Team.


Recipe

Each Automated Automation contains three parts, the WHEN (Trigger), the IF (Conditions), and the THEN (Action). Triggers and Actions are required, but Conditions are optional. 

Here is the  Recipe for this invitation to the Spruce app Automation

WHEN (TRIGGER) When a patient contacts the practice via SMS;
IF (CONDITIONS) If there is no active conversation in progress, indicated by the fact that no provider has messaged the patient within the last 3 hours
THEN (ACTION) Then post a message to the conversation.
  • Select the sender for the message (from: SpruceTutorials)
  • Write the message text ("SMS messages like these are not fully secure modes of communication. If you would like to discuss your health information over a secure channel, please select this link to connect on the Spruce app so you can message out practice securely: https://spruce.care/sprucetutorials.")


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Automation: Patient account creation

You can establish an Automation to send a message when a patient downloads the Spruce app and creates an account. This allows you to triage patient inquiries from the moment they join Spruce. 

You already have the option to create an auto-welcome message to patients who download the app through your settings. However, our support team can help you add Spruce buttons to your welcome message. Spruce Buttons are discussed in a previous section of this article, but to recap, Spruce buttons are visual options patients can select when using the Spruce app. They can be customized to trigger subsequent Automations when selected by a patient. The following example contains four Buttons:

  • [Schedule an Appointment] 
  • [Refill a Prescription] 
  • [Speak to a Doctor] 
  • [Urgent]

After you define the Spruce Buttons, you can define the action that occurs when a Button is selected. For example, when a patient selects  [Schedule an Appointment], they can receive a message that explains their request has been heard and someone from the team will reach out to schedule an appointment. 

The actions that occur after a Button is selected can include complex Automations of their own that we explain above. For example, when a patient selects [Speak to a Doctor], they will receive a message that includes an additional set of Spruce Buttons – one button for each doctor – and asks them to select the doctor they wish to speak with. Once they select their doctor, the Automations automatically assigns the conversation thread to the corresponding doctor. Then the doctor can start to communicate with the patient.


Recipe 

Each Automation contains three parts, the WHEN ( Trigger), the IF ( Conditions), and the THEN ( Action). Triggers and Actions are required, but Conditions are optional. 

Here is the  Recipe for this patient account creation Automations

WHEN (Trigger)  When a patient downloads the Spruce app and creates a Spruce Account;
IF (Conditions) N/A (no additional conditions must be met)
THEN (Action) Then post a message to the conversation that includes Buttons.
  • Select the sender for the message (from: Spruce Tutorials)
  • Write the message text ("Welcome to our practice! Now that you have downloaded the app, and have made a Spruce account, you can message securely with our entire practice.")
  • Define the Buttons to be sent within the message: 
  • [Schedule an Appointment] [Refill a Prescription] [Speak to a Doctor] [Urgent]
  • Configure a subsequent Automations for each Button
    • [Schedule Appointment] → Post a message to the conversation.
    • [Refill Prescription] → Post a message to the conversation requesting prescription information, and page the provider in charge of prescription refill.
    • [Speak to a Doctor] → Post a message to the conversation that includes Buttons for each doctor. Once a doctor is selected, assign the conversation to that doctor.
    • [Urgent] → Post a message to the conversation acknowledging the patient, and send an SMS to the doctors indicating there is a patient with an urgent matter. 

Automation: Spruce Visit after-hours

This Automation automatically respond to patients when they complete a Spruce Visit outside your business hours. Patients can reply and indicate if they have an urgent or non-urgent complaint. For non-urgent matters, providers will be notified the next morning. For urgent matters, all providers or specific providers in a practice will receive an SMS text message alerting them that a patient has completed an urgent Spruce Visit after hours. This allows you to stay informed while limiting after-hours notifications. 

This Automation uses a Condition that restricts the automatic message to times outside of normal clinic hours. If a patient completes a visit during business hours they will not receive this after-hours message. 

This automation will include  Spruce Buttons. Spruce Buttons are visual options patients can select when using the Spruce app. They can be customized to trigger subsequent Automations when selected by a patient. The following example contains two Buttons:

  • [Urgent] 
  • [Non-urgent]

After you define the Spruce Buttons, you can define the action that occurs when a Button is selected. For example, when a patient selects  [Non-urgent], you can define that all providers should receive a notification the following morning that a patient completed a Spruce Visit after-hours. When [Urgent] is selected, you can define that all providers should receive an urgent SMS notification. 


Recipe 

Each Automated Automation contains three parts, the WHEN (Trigger), the IF (Conditions), and the THEN (Action). Triggers and Actions are required, but Conditions are optional. 

Here is the  Recipe for this Spruce Visit after-hours Automation

WHEN (TRIGGER) When a patient competes a Spruce Visit;
IF (CONDITIONS) The visit is completed outside of the office's business hours;
THEN (ACTION) Post a message to the conversation that includes Buttons.
  • Select the sender for the message (from: Spruce Tutorials)
  • Compose the message text ("Thank you for completing this visit. It is currently outside of our normal business hours. If this is a non-urgent matter, select [Non-Urgent] and someone from our team will be in contact in the next business day. If this is an urgent matter, select [Urgent] and someone from our team will be in touch as soon as possible. If this is an emergency, please dial 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.")
  • Define Buttons to be sent within the message: [Non-Urgent] [Urgent] 
  • Configure a subsequent Automated Automation for each Button 
    • [Non-Urgent]: page providers the next morning with a message indicating the patient completed a Spruce Visit after hours  
    • [Urgent]: send an SMS notification to all providers, indicating a patient completed a Spruce Visit after hours about an urgent matter

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