Publishing Schedules: Creating a new schedule Follow

This article will explain all of the options when creating a new publishing schedule using the Schedules feature of HealthEngine. You can click one of the links below to jump straight to a particular section or simply scroll down manually to see the explanation of all of the options sequentially.

For more information about what publishing schedules are and how to use them, you can view our FAQs article here.

 

Starting the schedule creation process

To create a new schedule, click on the green 'Add new schedule +' button at the top-right of the page.

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This will open the 'create schedule' menu where you can specify the details of the available appointments you would like for HealthEngine to automatically publish for you.

Start by choosing which days you would like appointments to be available on in the 'Appointment days' section at the top.

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'Appointment days' section

This section allows you to specify for which days you would like appointments to be automatically created by the schedule.

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You may wish to create a separate schedule for each day if your appointment availability differs day-to-day. In this example, we have the same appointment availability on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, so we are going to uncheck the 'Tuesday' and 'Thursday' boxes, leaving the 'Monday', 'Wednesday', and 'Friday' boxes checked.

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If you have different appointment availability on alternating weeks, you can choose for the schedule to apply only on alternating weeks. To do this, check the "I want to run this schedule on alternating weeks" box, as pictured below.

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In this scenario, you may have two schedules - one for every other week, and one for the weeks in between. If you have the same appointment availability every week, you can ignore this option and leave the box unchecked.

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Handling public holidays

You can choose whether you would like this appointment availability to be published on public holidays as well as regular days (the default selection), only on public holidays, or only on regular days (excludes public holidays).

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In this example, we have the same appointment availability on public holidays as on regular days, so we will leave the default selection of 'Include public holidays'.

Next, you can choose what times of the day you would like your appointment availability to begin and end on for the days selected in the previous 'Appointment days' section. This is done in the 'Appointment times' section.

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'Appointment times' section 

In this section, you can choose what times you would like your appointment availability to begin and end on for the days selected in the previous 'Appointment days' section.

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Start by selecting an appointment length. There are a range of appointment length options available in the drop-down list, but the default is 15 minutes as we find this to be the most common appointment length.

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In this example, we have 30 minute appointments, so we will choose the '30 mins' option from the drop-down list.

Next, decide what time the appointment availability should begin. This should be based on the first available appointment time for the selected day/s, so if your practice generally opens from 8am, you would select 8am here. Luckily, this is the default option, so we will leave the '8:00am' selection for this example.

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Next, decide what time the appointment availability should end. When deciding what to choose, remember that this should be the time your practice closes, not the time that the last appointment should begin. So, if your practice closes at 6pm, you should choose 6pm here and your last available appointment on HealthEngine will be for 5:30pm (if you have chosen an appointment length of 30 minute, as in this example). For this example, we will keep the default selection of '5:00pm'.

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If you wish to leave breaks in between your appointments, you can do so by following the instructions in the 'Adding breaks' section below. If you do not require breaks between appointments, you can simply leave the default option of 'No breaks between appointments' selected and skip the 'Adding breaks' section below and move straight onto the ''Who are these appointments for?' section' section.

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Adding breaks

You can choose whether you would like there to be a break after every single appointment, after every second appointment, or every third appointment, and so on.

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You can choose the length of the breaks, but they must be in multiples of the selected appointment length. So, in this example, we could choose to have 30 minute breaks, 60 minute breaks, 90 minute breaks, and so on.

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In this example, our practitioners work from 8am until 12pm, then take a lunch break for an hour, then resume work from 1pm until 5pm.

To set this up, we will choose to have a break after every 8th appointment and set the break length to '60 mins'.

This results in 30 minute appointments from 8am until 12pm (11:30am being the last appointment time before the break), an hour-long break from 12pm until 1pm, and then 30 minute appointments from 1pm until 5pm (the last appointment starting at 4:30pm), as pictured below.

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If you would like to have breaks at specific times of the day and for different lengths than multiples of the appointment length, you can set this up by having multiple schedules that start and end at the relevant times.

As an example, let's say your practitioners work from 8am until 10am, then have a 15 minute break, then work from 10:15am until 12pm, then take a lunch break for an hour before resuming work from 1pm until 3pm, then have a 15 minute break before resuming work from 3:15pm until 5pm.

In this case, you would create a schedule for the 8am to 10am block, then a second schedule for the 10:15apm to 12pm block, then a third schedule for the 1pm until 3pm block, then a fourth schedule for the 3:15pm until 5pm block.

It is up to you whether you prefer to use the in-built breaks option or to create multiple schedules to manage your break times.

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'Who are these appointments for ?'section

In this section, you can let us know which specialty the schedule should apply to and whether you want this schedule to be applied to only one practitioner in particular or whether you want the availability to be non-specific.

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If you can't see a practitioner in the drop-down list, you may have selected the wrong specialty for that practitioner. Try re-selecting the specialty.

If your practitioners all have different schedules, it is best to create one or more schedules for each practitioner.

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'Advanced options' section

There are some advanced options that you may wish to customise. You can of course choose to go ahead and create the rule with the default settings; however, we recommend checking them to be sure that they are suitable for your practice. You can do this by clicking the 'Change advanced scheduling and creation options' link at the bottom-left of the page.

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This will open up the 'Advanced options' menu where you can choose when you want the schedule to start and stop running, choose what time of day you would like the schedule to publish the appointments to HealthEngine (e.g. every day at midnight), and how far in advance you would like the appointments to be made available for booking on HealthEngine (e.g. 1 day ahead).

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The default settings are usually acceptable for most practices; however, it is worth checking. In particular, we recommend deciding how far in advance you would like patients to be able to book appointments on HealthEngine.

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The schedule settings default to 1 day in advance, but this means that patients will only ever be able to book for today or the next day, as appointments will only be published one day in advance.

We recommend choosing 28 days ahead for General Practices, 56 days ahead for Dental and Allied Practices, and 90 days ahead for Specialist Practices.

 

When you first create a schedule, it will not immediately reflect this availability on HealthEngine and you will need to manually create the appointment availability using Sidebar or the 'Availability' tab in Practice Admin from the day you create the schedule to the day the schedule will first publish appointments.

As an example, if today is Thursday 28th of March and you have configured your schedule to publish appointments from 8am to 5pm every Thursday, 28 days ahead, then your schedule will run at midnight on the Thursday 28th of March and publish appointments from 8am to 5pm for Thursday April 24th (this is 28 days from the time the schedule is running). The schedule will next run on Thursday 4th of April and publish appointments for Thursday 2nd of May.

So, if your schedule is publishing 28 days ahead, you will need to manually create the first 28 days of available appointments. From then on, the schedule will automatically create your availability for you, according to the options you selected when you created the schedule.

We recognise that this is less than ideal and are working towards a better solution which we hope to make available within the month of April, 2019. Until then, please continue to use Schedules and/or Sidebar to publish your appointment availability online.

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Completing the schedule creation process

Finally, to finish creating your schedule, you can click the green 'Create new schedule' button in the bottom-right corner of the page.

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For more information about what publishing schedules are and how to use them, you can view our FAQs article here.

 

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