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.

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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