Note: Current functionality only supports text. Sending/receiving images is not currently supported, but adding that functionality is in the works.


Before we dive into the wonders of two-way client communication, we'll need to get a pinch of housekeeping out of the way.

In order to get 2-way SMS messaging set up, you'll need to make sure you have:

If you've already done those things, click the corresponding title to learn more about the individual features:

Adding an SMS number

If you haven't already, you'll need to add an SMS number for your clinic. To do that, open your clinic settings (Admin > Clinic Settings > Edit Clinic Settings > Advanced Settings), and add a number in the SMS Number field (pink).

Note: Once you pick a number, you cannot change it. We'd recommend picking one with the same area code as your practice so your clients can recognize it more easily.

Add an SMS number here in the clinic settings section of Admin

Enabling the Messaging Permission

If you want a user to have access to the Shepherd's messaging functionality, they'll need to have the messaging permission attached to their role(s).

To do that, open up the roles section of Shepherd (Admin > Users > Roles), and select the role you want to add the messaging permission to.

With the role's permissions open, check the "Messaging" permission's box (pink) and press 'Save.'

All of the permissions you can attach to a role; messaging is in the pink box

Tip: you can also make a messaging role by clicking the 'Add New' button in Admin > Users > Roles. Then only select 'Messaging' when you pick the role's permissions, save it, and add the messaging-specific role to individual users.

Messaging Section Overview

Starting a New Conversation

Once you've set up your clinic's SMS number and given the messaging permission to some users, you're ready to start sending messages. To get there, click 'Messaging' in the lefthand menu (light blue).

To start a new conversation, click the + button (pink).

The messaging section of Shepherd

Clicking the + button will open the 'Create New Chat' window.

From there, you'll be able to send a message to an existing client (orange). If they don't have a number attached to their profile, you can add one in by using the custom client phone field.

Once you've selected a client, click 'Create Chat' to start a new conversation.

A new chat

All open chats will populate in the lefthand section of the messaging section. You can click on a chat to open it.

Once you've started a new chat (or opened an existing one), you can send the client a message. To do that:

  1. Type your message in the message bubble at the bottom

  2. Press the send icon or 'Enter/Return' to send the message

The messaging section of Shepherd

Note: Within each text conversation, you can see which user sent the message to the client.

Closing a Conversation

Closing a conversation allows you to archive it. It won't be deleted, and you can always go back and access it if you need to.

To close a conversation:

  1. Open the conversation

  2. Click the 'Close Conversation' button on the right side of the page

Note: you can view closed conversations by clicking the 'Closed' tab on the left side of the messaging section (above your open conversations).

Make an Appointment From a Conversation

If you're getting in touch with a client (say a vaccination reminder) and they want to make an appointment, click the 'Make Appointment' icon on the right side of the screen.

This will generate a modal where you'll be able to add in all necessary appointment details.

Making an appointment from the messaging section

Edit Appointment Status From a Conversation

Instead of navigating out of the messaging center to edit the status of an appointment, you can do this by clicking the current status (green). If you want to view/edit the appointment, click the square action button (pink arrow).

Editing an appointment from the messaging section

Assign SMS Message to Users

You can now assign text messages to users for direct notifications! After a user is assigned and a client replies, that user will see a notification dot in the main menu. You can assign multiple users to a message, but once one of the users has read the new message, the notification dot will be removed.

Note: If you do not want to send any two-way text messages, you can now disable the message center in the Clinic Settings. This will not turn off the automatic text message appointment reminders!

SMS Templates

Clicking the SMS Templates button within the message center will allow you to create your own templates that can be easily sent with just a few clicks! Once the template is selected, the text will automatically populate within the conversation, ready to send when you are!

Scheduling SMS Messages

By clicking the clock symbol, you are now able to schedule a text to be sent at a later date/time!

Once scheduled, it will appear in yellow, along with "Scheduled for: (date) (time)". If any adjustments need to be made, or if this needs to be canceled, clicking directly on the yellow message will allow you to make the necessary changes!

Custom Automatic SMS Templates

You can now create custom text message notifications. These settings are found under Admin > Scheduling > Edit SMS Settings.

There will be a default message that reads: "[Clinic Name]: A friendly reminder that [Patient/s] (has/have) an appointment today, [Date], at [Time]. You can add optional text to this message, or you can create your own message by clicking the "Advanced" toggle.

After Hours Auto Response

You can create a default text message that will be sent as an automatic reply if a client sends a text message outside of your scheduled office hours. To create this auto response message go into your Clinic Settings and click the Office Hours & Closures tab.

Note: You can now toggle off the auto response if needed.

Did this answer your question?