Reminders: Part 1 - Setup

Reminders: Part 1 - Setup



The ability to send clients reminders is one of the most important functions of any practice management system. The openVPMS reminder system is extremely powerful and customisable to your practice's needs. This tutorial will walk you through setting up reminders for vaccinations for your patients. Once you have this function enabled, you'll no doubt expand your use of reminders to other parts of your practice, such as senior patients, dental care and so on.

1. Setting Up Reminder Groups

Let's do this first, it becomes relevant and important later on in this tutorial.
Click on Administration | Lookups. Select Reminder Group, then click New.

The following screen opens.
Type in Vaccination and click Ok (I've reduced the windows in size to fit the screen, sometimes the Ok button is down below off the screen and you may need to resize the window to find it).

2. Setting Up Reminder Types

Firstly you will need to setup the appropriate Reminder Types.
Click on Administration | Types. Select Reminder Types, then click New.

The following screen opens:

Let's look at the various parts of the screen above:

Name and Description: you need to give this reminder type a name, eg Annual Vaccination, Annual Heartworm, Dental Check, etc.
Group: if you check this box, then if a given customer has say 3 patients with the same reminder, then one reminder letter will printed showing all three patients.  If it is not ticked, then for this customer, three separate letters will be printed.
Reminder Interval and Interval Units: Default reminder interval, expressed as Interval Units, for example 1 and year for annual vaccination.

Cancel Interval and Cancel Units: When the reminder should be automatically cancelled. A reminder is cancelled if its due date plus the cancel interval is less than or equal to the date when you run the reminder generation. For example: if a reminder was due on 15/7/2010 and had a cancel interval of 2 years, it would be cancelled on any reminder run on or after 15/7/2012. This feature has no bearing on the number of reminders sent prior to a reminder being cancelled: that will be discussed later.

Sensitivity Interval and Sensitivity Units: This is used to highlight reminders in the patient summary Reminders popup (when you click on the bell icon in the left-side summary screen) and changes the colour on the reminder indicators from Not Due(green), Due (yellow) or Overdue (red).

The sensitivity interval is used to determine a lower and upper bound to compare reminder due dates with.

ie lower bound = {current date} - {sensitivity interval}
upper bound = {current date} + {sensitivity interval}

The lower and upper bound determines how the reminders are highlighted as follows:

  • Red (overdue) : If a reminder's due date is less than the lower bound;
  • Yellow (remind): If a reminder's due date is less than the upper bound;
  • Green (normal): If a reminder's due date is greater than the upper bound.

For example, using 15/07/2012 as today's date:

  • If the reminder due date was 14/06/2012 (or lower) and the sensitivity interval was one month, it would be highlighted red given today's date.
  • If the reminder due date was anywhere between 15/06/2012 and 15/08/2012 and the sensitivity interval was one month, it would be highlighted yellow given today's date.
  • If the reminder due date was 16/08/2012 (or higher) and the sensitivity interval was one month, it would be highlighted green given today's date.

Interactive check box: An unchecked Interactive box sets the reminder in accordance with the above parameters when you invoice the item attached to the reminder (don't worry, we haven't got to that part yet).

Checking the Interactive box will allow you to modify the due date at the point of invoicing: for example, you have a temporary vaccination reminder of 4 weeks for the next vaccination, and you wish to vaccinate next at 12 weeks of age. This reminder will be set for an eight week old puppy, and if the reminder was unaltered, a six week old puppy would receive its next reminder at 10 weeks of age; if the interactive box is checked, you will be presented with the reminder screen at invoicing, at which point you can type in 6w in the Due Date field, thus setting the next reminder for the puppy at 12 weeks of age.

Here's an example of a reminder that's been set up: an yearly vaccination reminder that highlights yellow within 15 days of the due date and cancels after 2 years. As the interactive box is unchecked, the reminder is automatically set for 12 months' time:

Let's turn our attention to the three tabs, Template, Species, Groups. We'll look at them in reverse order.

Group: groups Reminder Types together so they can reset each other; for example you may set a puppy vaaccination and an annual canine vaccination as two different Reminder Types, but they will belong to the same Reminder Group (eg Vaccination), so that generating a subsequent invoice for a canine annual vaccination Canine Annual reminder will automatically "complete" a previous Canine Puppy or Annual Reminder. When we say "complete", it means that existing reminder disappears from view (as it's completed) and is replaced by a new annual reminder that is "In Progress". Here we've selected the Reminder Group we created above and moved it from Available to Selected.

You can define as many groups as you wish and can assign many Reminder Types to the same Group or a single Reminder Type to many Groups.

Species: You can limit reminder to specific species; to use this function, click on the species and then the right arrow button to move it from Available to Selected.

Templates: this is where it gets "interesting".
This is where you tell OpenVPMS what document to generate for each reminder you want to send:

  • if you only want to list the reminders (like a phone list) no template information is required; or
  • you can print a letter for the first reminder and list subsequent reminders. You can customise this to your practice needs.

Let's suppose that the first reminder you want to send out is a letter (or postcard). Click on Add.

This window opens:

Document Template: this will be the OpenOffice .ODT file that will be use as the merge document. OpenVPMS can only print one reminder at a time (as of v1.6), so letters or postcards are the only option (no 3-across label sheet formats are yet available).
Reminder Count: This field limits this particular reminder template to only printing the reminder appropriate to the number of reminders already sent: so for the first reminder, this should be set to 0 (zero).
Overdue Interval and Units: you can set this template to print current or overdue reminders. As this is the first reminder, set interval to 0 (zero).
List: Check this box if you just want a list of reminders (eg for phone or SMS): no document template is required in this case; unchecking this box prints reminders according to the document template file.

This is an example of the template with the default odt file supplied with v1.5.1:

Once you're done, click Ok to complete your first reminder.
If you want to use your own template document, simply go to Administration | Templates, double-click on Reminder Vaccination First, then
and Browse to your new document and Send it to OpenVPMS.

3. Attaching Reminder To Product/Service

Once you have your reminder setup, the next step is to attach the reminder to a product or service. Click Products and Search for the product or Service you wish to attach a reminder to. In this instance, I've searched for vax, then double-clicked on the item I need. Click on the Reminder tab, then click on Add. Use the binoculars to select the Reminder Type you've just set up, then, because this is an annual vaccination, fill in 1 as Period and years as Period Units, as below:

In a similar fashion, you can set up a temporary vaccination type and add the reminder to a product, checking Interactive to be able to alter the due date at time of billing:

4. Reminder Creation In Action

Let's see how this works in OpenVPMS. You've consulted and vaccinated in the normal way, and have srrived at the billing stage:

You enter the item and press either Ok or Completed:

The reminder icon (the bell) has now appeared in the patient's summary screen and the reminder type, due date and product can be viewed by clicking on the icon:

Similarly if you've set up a product/service with an interactive reminder type (so that you can vary the due date), when you press after billing that item, the reminder screen pops up with a suggested due date (in this case 4 weeks hence):

You may wish to make it, say for 6 weeks' time, simply backspace out the due date, type in 6w.........

.... and press Enter: the due date is now 6 weeks from today:


This resource is an openVPMS-enduser created tutorial. Constructive criticism and corrections welcome.

Created 10 July 2012 {compiled by Yuri Sos from many forum posts by Tony De Keizer, Tim Anderson and others}

Syndicate content