When sending messages to patients you can either manually type a message, or pick one from a list.
Patients are notified about your message by email as default. If your CCG have enabled our SMS module, when you click 'Send as SMS' patients will also be sent an SMS notification in addition to the email.
When picking from a list, you can choose from:
NHS self-help links
- Common questions
- Health A to Z
- Medicine A to Z
- Live Well
- Individual questions
- Question sets
Advice templates act in the same way as 'Reply not required' manually typed messages - patients cannot reply to them. Whereas individual question, question sets, and questionnaires act in the same way as 'Reply required' manually typed messages.
When you send a message to a patient either from the patient details page or when responding to a patient request, use the Pick message from list button to search for and select a message template.
Search for them using the search box. You can set favourites for easy access by clicking the star icon:
You can visit links and questionnaires before you select them to make sure they're what you want to send by clicking this icon .
Once you have selected a template from the search it will appear in the 'Selected messages' box on the right. You can delete individual messages or groups, and change the order in which they appear:
You can also edit templates by clicking in the box and changing the text.
Once you're happy, click 'Send' - the patient will be sent those messages in order.
We're adding more standardised responses all the time - if there's something missing you'd like to see, please tell us using the 'Give feedback' button in the top menu when logged into Patchs, or you can create your own template messages for your practice.
Completing a request with unanswered 'reply required' messages
If you select the Complete message button where the patient has not answered all the Reply required questions you have asked them (i.e. any question, question sets, or questionnaires), the request will be remain in the Awaiting response inbox. Doing this can be useful if you want to clear your inbox without closing requests.
If the patient replies, it will go back into the 'Unassigned' inbox in case they reply on a day you are not working.
If the patient doesn't reply to a Reply required message or doesn't read a Reply not required message, they can be sent automatic reminders. This must be set up by your practice Patchs admin.
'Send in body of email / SMS' and 'Send as SMS' options
For more details see 'Send as SMS' behaviour
Send in body of email / SMS
- If the 'Send in body of email / SMS' box is not ticked the patient will be sent a link to view your message in Patchs. If the patient has a Patchs account, they will need to log in to view the message. If they don't have a Patchs account, they will need to enter their date of birth to view the message. This option is recommended if you are sending sensitive information as it is the most secure. Your practice name will be added by Patchs when the message has been sent and the patient will see your name in the Patchs chatbot - so there's no need to add these yourself.
- If the 'Send in body of email / SMS' box is ticked your message will be sent as an email and/or SMS. The patient won't need to access Patchs to view your message. This option is recommended if you are not sending sensitive information as it is the least secure. Your practice name will be added by Patchs when the message has been sent - sop there's no need to add this yourself. This option is currently not available for 'Reply required' messages, as patients need to log into Patchs to reply to messages at the moment.
Send as SMS
Patchs messages are sent by email by default to save on SMS costs. If the 'Send as SMS' box is ticked, the message will be sent by SMS. This may be as well as, or instead of, an email message depending on your practice settings.
Don't share more information than necessary
Theoretically someone else could access information you send patients, for example a controlling partner that has access to the patient's phone. Therefore we recommend not sharing more information than you have already been provided (if you are responding to a message) unless you have confirmed you are communicating directly with the patient themselves, for example, you have spoken to them on the telephone first.
Available message templates
The following templates are available to all practices. You can also create your own message templates for your practice to use - read about how to create your own message templates here.
Patients cannot reply to advice templates. Examples of advice templates available to all practices include:
- Back pain exercises
- Back pain red flags
- Blood tests results - repeat
- Brandt-Daroff exercises
- Failed telephone encounter - close down request
- Failed telephone encounter - please call practice
- Failed telephone encounter - try again later
- Fit (sick) note request
- Food and symptoms diary
- High cholesterol - lifestyle advice
- Hip pain exercises
- How to use a nasal spray (video)
- How to use your inhaler
- Knee pain exercises
- Medication request received - 48 hours
- Medication request received - 72 hours
- Medication review - book appointment
- Neck pain exercises
- Normal scan results
- Normal test results
- Overactive bladder and bladder training
- Patient Participation Group (PPG) information
- Peak flow diary
- Prescription sent
- Safety net (generic) - 1 week
- Safety net (generic) - 2 weeks
- Scan results - book GP appointment
- Seborrhoeic keratosis
- Shoulder pain exercises
- Skin cancer
- Stye - causes and treatment
- Test results - book GP appointment
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Vitamin D insufficiency
Individual Question templates
Patients can reply once to individual question temples. Examples of individual question templates available to all practices include:
- Attach photo request
- Attach photo request - tonsils
- Attach photo request - skin condition
- COVID vaccination 1 offer
- COVID vaccination 2 offer
- Dentist Re-direction
- Pharmacy clarification
- PHQ-9 final question clarification
Question Set templates
Question sets are multiple individual questions asked one after the other. Patients can reply to each question. Examples of question sets available to all practices include:
- Sore Throat
- Urinary Tract Infection
Questionnaires are separate forms with multiple questions and may have scores attached. For certain questionnaires individual answers or scores below or above a certain threshold can mark a request as urgent or emergency. Questionnaires available to all practices include:
- Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (full)
- Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (short)
- Asthma Control
- Asthma RCP
- Full AUDIT
- Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ)
- Back pain red flags (Messages will be marked as Emergency if patient says they have any red flag symptoms)
- Blood pressure (BP) - single reading
- Blood pressure (BP) - 7 day average
- Blood pressure (BP) - 4 day average
- Breathlessness - MRC dyspnoea scale
- Cancer care review pre-appointment
- Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill (COCP) Review
- COPD review
- Cough (Messages will be marked as Emergency if patient says they are breathless)
- Daytime Sleepiness
- Diabetes review pre-appointment
- FeverPAIN score (Messages will be marked as Urgent if patient scores 4 or more)
- Flu vaccine invitation (by email)
- Flu vaccine invitation (by SMS)
- Flu vaccine invitation (by SMS and email)
- Fracture risk (gathers data for FRAX tool)
- Height and weight
- Height and weight (+ BMI calculation)
- Health Assessment for Night Workers
- Health check
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Review
- Knee score
- Medication Review
- PHQ-9 (messages will be marked as Emergency if patient answers positively to final question about self-harm or suicide)
- Progestogen-Only Pill (POP) Review
- QRISK2 (collects data for calculation)
- Smoking Status
- Sick/Fit note details