Sending SMS reminders for appointments?

Hi friends,

We are looking at sending out SMS reminders for patient appointments in OpenMRS, and thought we should ask the community if there is any recommended approach for this? Have others done this? and do they have any tips and approaches to share?

We’ll really appreciate your guidance please.



I have seen the OpenSRP team doing SMS with OpenMRS via RapidPro. You may want to take a look at these two links. @maimoonak is one of the lead developers for OpenSRP.

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Thanks so much for the quick response @dkayiwa

Our clinics are remote and not connected to the internet and we were considering the use of sim cards in gsm modems for sending the reminders. Quick question for @dkayiwa and @maimoonak

  1. How possible is this with opensrp? and is it simple? (can be maintained by nurse with minimal IT experience?)
  2. Is there a simple openmrs module for this, as an alternative?

Thanks so much for your responses.

Hi @dkayiwa and @omrslearn ,

OpenSRP is offline tablet data collection tool which also keeps data sync with OpenMRS. The work in is progress and SMS are supposed to be sent by OpenSRP and RapidPro integration (OpenMRS is not pushing any data to Rapidpro directly).

From description above I am assuming that data collection is in hospital with OpenMRS local installation. All data entry is on web and there is a bridge required for OpenMRS and Rapidpro.

Rightnow there is no module for openmrs for this purpose but if you can work on a module which can push patient information to rapidpro and then create logic inside RapidPro for SMS (which is easy) your requirement can be fulfilled. Rapidpro also allows sms communication via Android mobile (which would require a wifi connection) and integration with Kennel which can run on GSM modem.

If you have offline mobile data entry then OpenSRP comes in but it would require development of a mobile client app.

Thanks so much for the explanation @maimoonak very useful!

It seems that OpenSRP-Rapidpro-OpenMRS, as you have explained is for more robust infrastructure, and well suited for the OpenSRP use case. Would have been suitable if we wanted to migrate to using OpenSRP and can setup and maintain Rapidpro, which is something we can consider in the near future. But some of our clinics have been using OpenMRS, and just need to simply send SMS to the roughly 5-15 patients that have an appointment each day, using the existing infrastructure.

We may want to proceed with developing a simple SMS reminder module for openmrs - if none exists. But we wouldn’t want to do it if one already exists. @dkayiwa, can you confirm if none exists? Or what is the closest thing to what we want that exists? Thanks so much!

@omrslearn, to my knowledge there are no active projects doing simple SMS like you describe. There have been several historical attempts at this, most recently the Messaging module, but peeking at it in github, the last meaningful commit was early 2014, and I haven’t heard of anyone using this recently.

My advice to you, if you have some developer capacity (even if you’re looking at a pretty simple use case for now) is to try linking to rapidpro, over doing something as an OpenMRS module.

Thanks @darius for the advice. We’ll analyze all the options and choose what is the most agile and quick approach.

Thanks all.

I had a startup that created a simple SMS module, the code is here ( This was very custom made and only worked if you had an internet connection to send the SMS via an online service provider.

I would agree with Darius that probably the best is to connect to RapidPro

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Thanks @jblaya We’ll definitely consider rapidpro.

We appreciate the tips and great community response!

RapidPro seems like a pretty simple solution. We’re interest in creating an SMS bot that would send automatically scheduled messages and also “response” messages that are triggered by incoming messages (“press 1 if this”, “press 2 if that”) which can lead to further response messages.

We built a sloppy demo in .NET with Twillio and now need a more robust database for holding and recording patient information that comes from admin users and from these SMSs.

Curious if anyone has any experience building systems like this, any advice about what tools to use, if OpenMRS is a good choice, etc.


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