SMS Versus Secure Messaging

IN THIS ARTICLE

Introduction to SMS (Texting) and Secure Messaging

Spruce lets you text with patients in two ways—app based secure texting and standard SMS texting. Secure Conversations present once a patient downloads the Spruce app or signs up online, and includes secure messaging and secure video calls. SMS Conversations take place without a patient having to download the Spruce app which we call a standard communication channel. Spruce also offers these other standard communication channels: phone calls, voicemail, email, and fax. Even though you may initiate these types of communications from within the Spruce app, remember that they may fall outside the app on the receiving end. For example, when you send an SMS text message from the Spruce app, it appears on the patient's phone like a regular text message. In this case, they may not be aware that you're using the Spruce app to communicate with them, and may think you're texting them from your personal phone number. It is not secure. 

Further reading can be found on blog post, HIPAA Compliance: Can I Text My Patients and our white paper, Using Spruce in a HIPAA-Compliant Manner.

Standard messages such as SMS texts and calls conversations will have a grey phone icon. Secure messaging will have a blue icon with the patient initials. 

Sending SMS Text Messages from the Web

Here are the steps to initiate a new SMS conversation and deploy an initial text message from the web. There are two options:

Option 1:
1
Select  Contacts from the left navigation panel.
2
Identify the appropriate  Contact or create a new one by entering the patient's name and phone number.
3
Once you select  Save, select the SMS icon that appears.
4
A new screen will pop up where you may compose your message.
5

Select  Send once you have finished composing.

6
If the patient is already saved as a contact, skip step 2, and click on the patient's name instead.
Option 2:
1
Select the Inbox tab on the left-hand side of your web screen.
2
Select the action button with the pencil and paper icon and choose SMS from the drop-down menu.
3
Enter the phone number or search for an  existing contact.
4
Compose your message.
5

Select  Send.

Sending SMS Messages from the Mobile App

Here are the steps to start a new SMS and send an initial text message from the mobile app. There are two options:

Option 1:
1
While in Inbox tab, select the " +" icon on the bottom of your screen.
2
Select SMS.
3
Enter the patient's name and phone number.
4
Compose your message.
5
Select Send.
Option 2:
1
Select Contacts tab on the bottom of the screen.
2
Select the Contact or choose the " +" icon and  Create Contact from the menu.
3
For a new Contact, enter the patient's name and phone number.
4

Once you select  Save, select the SMS icon that appears.

5
Compose your message.
6
Select Send.

Receiving SMS Messages

Any inbound SMS messages to your Spruce number will appear at the top of your Spruce inbox. The small blue dot next to the conversation will indicate that a message is unread and a number next to your Inbox (or lists within your inbox) will indicate the number of unread messages that you have. Messages to your Spruce number will not appear within your phone's personal messages.

Managing Multiple Text Conversations

If you have more than one Spruce number on your account, you can choose which number you'd like to use to make a call or to send a message. Once you send a message or make a call with a specific number, a new conversation will form in your inbox. Your inbox view will show you the Spruce number that is being used for that specific conversation.

If you are using a specific Spruce number to communicate with a patient, but would like to switch to a different Spruce number, you will need to start a new conversation. All existing or past conversations with a specific patient can be found within their contact.  


Sending attachments 

You can send photos, videos, and PDFs to patients in SMS conversations and secure conversations by selecting the Plus + Icon at the bottom of the screen when composing a patient message. Spruce supports PNG, JPEG, and PDF attachments. If you are using a toll free number (e.g. 800 or 855) you may not be able to send or receive MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) which are photos and video attachments. 


NOTE: Spruce Visits and payment requests can only be sent in a Secure Conversations. To exchange secure messages, your patient will need to download the Spruce App and set up an account.

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