What is an Autoresponder?

An autoresponder is an automated message that goes from your Spruce account to your patients, which can be based on an action they take and on any tags you've applied to their conversation. This is a great way to let patients automatically know you’ve received their message or that you’re currently out of the office, much like using an email vacation responder.

Here’s how autoresponders work:

  • A patient texts, securely messages or emails the practice. If you have your autoresponder toggled on, the patient receives an automatic reply. If you have an autoresponder toggled off, the patient will not receive an automatic message.
  • You can configure a different autoresponder for each channel - email, secure messaging and SMS. The autoresponder that will trigger is based on which channel the patient communicated with you on.
  • If you would like to configure a schedule for your autoresponder, you have to contact us in Spruce Support for us to add an autoresponder for you manually.
  • Autoresponders are forgiving in the way that they do not trigger for every message from a single patient. Instead, they will trigger on the first message from the patient, and if the patient sends subsequent messages they will not trigger until a period of inactivity has passed. This period of inactivity where neither the patient nor the provider send a message is known as the throttling threshold. This helps ensure that the experience is not sub-optimal for a patient that is trying to communicate their needs across multiple messages.
  • The default throttling threshold is 15 minutes. This can be changed if you'd like. You will have to contact Spruce Support to make this change.
  • The throttling threshold also enables the provider and the patient to have a conversation without interruption by the autoresponder if the provider is available when the autoresponder is turned on.
  • Also note that only messages sent by the patient or a provider to the patient in the conversation reset the countdown for the throttling behavior. Internal notes or events such as "tag added" or "conversation archived" do not count towards the throttling threshold of an autoresponder.

Tag-based autoresponders:

Autoresponders can now be configured based on a tag. With this functionality, Spruce can now automatically send a message if a patient has been marked with a specific tag(s). 
The most common uses of this feature include triggering away messages for a specific provider who is out of the office and for triggering responses to specific patients who are "inactive" or no longer patients of your practice.
This additional configuration can be found when creating your autoresponders in your Web settings. Just add the tag that is required for the patient to receive the autoresponder you have created.
All the other rules for autoresponders apply, this is just an additional configuration on top of what is available

How to create an autoresponder on web:

  1. Navigate to Settings and tap/click on Autoresponder. Tap/click on Add Autoresponder.
  2. Make sure the Enable Autoresponder is toggled on to enable the autoresponder (the toggle should be blue).
  3. Enter the title and message of your autoresponder (ex: Out of Office Message, ). You can see some examples of autoresponder messages at the bottom of this page.
  4. Tap/click on Channels to select the channel(s) you would like the message applied to (SMS, email, or secure message). If you have more than one Spruce phone number, make sure to double check which phone number(s) you would like the autoresponder to apply to. After selecting the channels, tap on Save.
  5. Tap/click on Sender to select whom you prefer the message to appear from for secure messages (ex: the practice or an individual provider). After selecting the sender, tap on Save.
  6. Tap/click on Save Autoresponder after completing all the above steps.

How to create an autoresponder on mobile:

  1. Navigate to Settings by tapping on the icon in the top left hand corner of the Spruce app. Then tap on Autoresponder. Then tap on Add Autoresponder.
  2. Make sure the Enable Autoresponder is toggled on to enable the autoresponder (the toggle should be blue).
  3. Enter the title and message of your autoresponder (ex: Out of Office Message). You can see some examples of autoresponder messages at the bottom of this page.
  4. Tap on Channels to select the channel(s) you would like the message applied to (SMS, email, or secure message). If you have more than one Spruce phone number, make sure to double check which phone number(s) you would like the autoresponder to apply to. After selecting the channels, tap on Save.
  5. Tap on Save Autoresponder after completing all the above steps.

Editing an autoresponder is not available (yet). Please delete the old autoresponder and create a new autoresponder if you need to make updates.

Example autoresponder messages to get you started:

Hello! You have the reached <practice name>. We typically respond with 2 hours. Messages received outside of office hours will be answered the next business day. Please be patient while we get back to you.

If this is an emergency, please dial 911.

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Hello! You have the reached <practice name>! Our business hours are M-F from 9-5. Messages received outside of office hours will be answered the next business day.

If this is an emergency, please dial 911.

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<practice name> is closed from X to X. Regular office hours will resume on X. If you have an urgent matter, please contact Dr. Brown at X.

If this is an emergency, please dial 911.

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