The Calendar feature allows non-integrated practices to publish their available appointment times online in a familiar, calendar-style interface. It also means less manual publishing with the ability to repeat published appointments on certain days of the week, every week.
There are several notable functions within Calendar, as listed below:
- Create available appointments
- Single appointment or block of appointments
- Once-off availability or repeat availability
- Modify available appointments
- Delete available appointments
- Set advance publishing preferences
- I.e. Let us know how far in advance availability should be published online for patients to be able to book
- Change the ‘zoom level’ displayed (5 zoom levels available).
The remainder of this article covers how to access and use Calendar. If you do not yet have access to this feature and would like to use it, please contact your CSM to register your interest in the feature.
To jump to a specific section within the article, please use the links below.
- How to access Calendar
- Using Calendar
- How to change your advance publishing preferences
- How to create available appointments using Calendar
- How to modify available appointments using Calendar
- How to delete available appointments using Calendar
- Things to look out for when using Calendar
- Future improvements coming to Calendar
How to access Calendar
To access Calendar, navigate to the 'Settings' section of your Practice Admin account and click on the 'Manage Availability' menu item.
Next, click on the 'Calendar' tab in the menu along the top of the screen.
If you do not see the 'Calendar' tab as pictured above it means that this feature has not yet been activated for your account. This feature is currently in early access, so only certain customers have the feature active at this stage. However, if you wish to gain early access to this feature, you can contact your CSM to register your interest. Please note that the feature is only available for non-integrated customers at this stage.
Calendar displays one day of availability for all practitioners associated with your HealthEngine online bookings. The default view is of the current day, but you can navigate to a different day by using the < or > arrow icons in the top left of the interface, or by clicking on the calendar icon to the left of the arrows to select a specific date.
To change the zoom level, simply click the + or - icons on the left, just above the times shown in the main calendar section.
How to change your advance publishing preferences
To change your advance publishing preferences, click on the gear icon in the top right (next to the 'Create schedule' button).
This will open a form that enables you to click a drop down list of options for how far in advance you wish to display your available appointments online for patients to book. The default is 28 days in advance.
How to create available appointments using Calendar
To create available appointments, click on the 'Create schedule' button in the top right. This will bring up a form that looks like the image pictured below.
First, start by selecting the practitioner for which you wish to create available appointments. You can do this by clicking on the drop down under 'Schedule for' and selecting the relevant practitioner from the list. The form will select the first practitioner in the list by default.
If you have a lot of practitioners to choose from, you can narrow down the options displayed by typing in the practitioner's name until the relevant option becomes visible in the list.
Once you have selected the relevant practitioner, be sure to check that the date shown under 'Date' matches the date for which you wish to publish available appointments. Note that the form will always default to the date currently displayed in Calendar.
Next, choose for which specialty you wish to publish available appointments for the selected practitioner. The form will select the first specialty in the list by default.
If you have a lot of specialty options to choose from, you can narrow down the options displayed by beginning to type the name of the specialty for which you are looking until the relevant option shows.
The next step is to decide whether you wish to publish just a single available appointment or a block of available appointments. If you choose 'Single appointment', the form will look like the image below.
If you choose 'Block of appointments', the form will look like the image below.
For this example, we will choose 'Block of appointments'.
The next step is to choose the time that the available appointment/s should start. The default is 9:00am. If you've chosen 'Block of appointments' as we have in this example, you will also need to choose a time for the block of appointments to end.
Note that if the practitioner for which you are creating available appointments requires any breaks during the day (e.g. for lunch), you will need to create a separate block of available appointments on either side of the break/s. Future updates to Calendar will allow you to specify breaks at the time of creating available appointments so that only one block needs to be created; however, this functionality is not yet available.
Once you have chosen the start and end time for the block of appointments, you can select the appointment length that should be applied for these appointments. The default is 15 minutes.
Finally, you can choose whether the available appointment/s should only be available on the selected date or if you would like them to be repeated into the future. If you only want the available appointment/s to be published on the selected date, you can go ahead and click the 'Add appointments' at the bottom of the form.
If you would like the available appointments to repeat, choose either the "Weekly on" or "Every weekday (Monday to Friday)" options from the drop down list. Selecting "Every weekday (Monday to Friday)" will create the available appointments on every weekday until the specified end date (or indefinitely if no end date is specified). Note that only appointments within the window specified by your advance publishing preferences will appear online for patients to book (e.g. 28 days ahead).
Alternatively, choosing "Weekly on" will give you the option to choose which days of the week the available appointment/s should be published on each week.
For both repeat options (i.e. "Weekly on" and "Every weekday"), you can choose for the available appointments to either continue indefinitely or to end on a specific date.
Once you are happy with your selections, you can go ahead and click the 'Add appointments' button at the bottom of the form.
Once completed, you can see the available appointments in the Calendar, either on the day that is already open, or by navigating to the relevant date/s using the navigation buttons in the top left of the screen. This allows you to easily check if the correct appointments were added and, if not, to quickly rectify any mistakes.
Note that if you have chosen to publish repeat appointments, you will see these appear in Calendar up until the specified end date (or on all future days if an end date was not specified). However, only the appointments that are within your advance publishing preferences (e.g. the next 28 days) will appear online for patients to book.
This helps you to see what the system is planning to publish before the appointments are published online so that you can be sure that the correct appointments are always appearing online for your patients to book.
If you wish to cross-check the available appointments that are showing up in Calendar with what is showing up on HealthEngine for your patients to book, you can do so by visiting either your Professional Profile in the HealthEngine directory or your Website Plugin on your practice's website to compare the available appointments displayed there.
How to modify available appointments using Calendar
Once you have created some available appointments using Calendar, you may wish to go back and modify them. To do this, simply navigate to the available appointment/s you wish to modify and click on it within the Calendar. This will bring up the 'Update appointments' form, as seen in the image below.
All of the settings originally entered when this appointment or block of appointments was created are pre-populated in the form so that you can easily change the settings as needed.
When you are happy with the changes, simply click "Update appointments" to apply the change.
PLEASE NOTE: If the appointment or block of appointments you're updating is set to repeat, the changes will be applied to all appointments in the repeat series, not just to the selected date. To make changes to only the appointment or appointment block on a particular day, please use Sidebar as per your existing processes pre-Calendar. Future updates to Calendar will allow you to specify whether you wish to only modify the selected day's appointment / appointment block or to the entire repeat series; however, this functionality is not yet available.
How to delete available appointments using Calendar
Once you have created some available appointments using Calendar, you may wish to go back and delete them. To do this, simply navigate to the available appointments you wish to delete and click on them within the Calendar. This will bring up the 'Update appointments' form, as seen in the image below.
To delete the appointments, simply click on the 'Delete' button in the bottom-left of the form.
PLEASE NOTE: If the appointment or block of appointments you're deleting is set to repeat, the deletion will be applied to all appointments in the repeat series, not just to the selected date. To delete only the appointment or appointment block on a particular day, please use Sidebar as per your existing processes pre-Calendar. Future updates to Calendar will allow you to specify whether you wish to only delete the selected day's appointment or appointment block or to delete the entire repeat series; however, this functionality is not yet available.
Things to look out for when using Calendar
There are a few things to look out for when using Calendar as it is a relatively new feature and has not yet been completed.
The first thing to be aware of is that, as mentioned in previous sections of this article, changes to or deletion of existing available appointments that are set to repeat in Calendar will apply to all instances of that availability in the repeat series, not just the instance currently selected.
The next thing to be aware of is that there is some incompatibility between Calendar and Sidebar. For example, if you create some available appointments in Sidebar, they will not appear in Calendar. Additionally, any availability created in Calendar should be modified only in Calendar while Sidebar should be used only to "mark appointments as booked". The reason for this is that any appointments deleted in Sidebar are read by the system as bookings made by patients, and so they won't be republished by Calendar should you republish it on Sidebar. Therefore, changes to your available times created in Calendar should only be made within Calendar and bookings made by patients should only be deleted in Sidebar.
Another thing to be aware of is that if you have multiple blocks of available appointments (or individual appointments) for a particular practitioner that completely overlap (e.g. a block for Dentistry from 9-11am and another block for Dental Prosthetics also from 9-11am, both for the same practitioner), you will not be able to see one of the blocks due to the 100% overlap in times. However, both will be available for patients to book online. It just means that you won't be able to go back and modify or delete one of them in Calendar if you should need to. You can, however, use Sidebar to delete individual appointments within the block as they are booked by patients.
All of these issues will be addressed in future updates, but please be aware of them in the meantime.
Future improvements coming to Calendar
Aside from the items mentioned in the previous section, we are planning to add the below functionality to Calendar in future updates.
- The ability to specify breaks within blocks of appointments.
- This means that, rather than having to publish multiple blocks of available appointments around breaks, you can simply publish one block of available appointments and specify when breaks should occur within it.
- The ability to specify whether appointments should appear online for patients to book on public holidays or not.
- The ability to mark individual appointments as "unavailable" (i.e. booked) within Calendar and to then subsequently "re-publish" these if the patient cancels their booking.
- For now, please continue to use Sidebar to delete any appointments as bookings come in, as per the existing process used before Calendar.
There will be a lot of additional exciting updates coming to Calendar further in the future, but for now, these are the planned upcoming improvements.
We hope you enjoy using Calendar! Please don't hesitate to contact us by phone or email should you experience any issues with Calendar or have any feedback about the feature. We will be happy to assist.