Block off time slots to make them unavailable for online booking

There are two ways you can block off time slots to make them unavailable for online booking.

Are you blocking off a time slot that follows a pattern (e.g. lunch hour every day)?

Block off in Ocean.

Edit your provider schedule and use the Day/Time Restrictions to set times for Ocean to ignore when allowing patients to book online.

In the example below, I have marked the following days and times as not bookable: all day Saturday and Sundays, between 12am - 9am Monday to Friday, between 12pm - 1pm Monday to Friday and between 5pm - 11:55pm Monday to Friday.

Are you blocking off a one-off time slot (e.g. vacation day or sick day)?

Block off in your EMR.

It is best to block off individual time slots that do not follow a recurring pattern directly in your EMR. Learn more about how to make time slots unavailable in your EMR.

To block off a time slot for online booking, you can simply mark it with "no online booking" in the description.


Accepting New Patients for Online Booking

  1. Configure your Ocean site to create new patients in your EMR.

    • Login to the Ocean Portal. Click the "Menu" button in the top left corner and select "Admin". Click "Site Features" from the Admin Settings page.
    • Check the box next to Allow accepted online bookings to create patients in your EMR.
  2. Configure the provider's schedule and booking link to accept new patients.

      • Login to the Ocean Portal. Click the "Menu" button in the top left corner and select "Online Booking". Click the "Settings" button in the top right corner.
      • Under Provider Schedules, click Edit next to the schedule you'd like to accept new patients.
      • In the "Who is allowed to book into this schedule?" field, select All Patients. Click Save.

        Note: It's recommended that you use a booking form that captures basic demographics information (e.g. sex, telephone number or email address). Ocean's Online Booking - New Patient Intake is a good example.

    • Navigate back to your Online Booking Settings. Next to the booking link you'd like new patients to use, click Edit.
    • Ensure the box next to "Do you want to limit online booking to patients with a chart in your EMR?" is unchecked. Click Save.
  3. Import new patient into your EMR.

    • Login to the Ocean Portal. Click the "Menu" button in the top left corner and select "Online Booking".
    • Locate the new patient who does not yet have a chart in your EMR. You can identify them easily by checking the schedule in your EMR and locating the patient who is booked with "(HN not in EMR: ##########)" in the appointment description. Review the patient and once you are ready for Ocean to create a chart for this patient, click the Import to EMR button. Ocean will prompt you if there are any issues upon import (this could be due to missing key demographic fields that Ocean needs to create a chart in your EMR).
    • Open your EMR and review the newly created chart and note. Open the scheduler and assign the newly created patient to their appointment time slot.

For Med Access users

TELUS sets the status for newly created patients by Ocean as "Unconfirmed". Please ensure you login to your EMR, search for the newly created patient and change their status to "Active".


Restrict certain patients when booking online

Ocean provides many options to set who can book into your providers' schedules. 

Restrict to patients who have a chart in your EMR

You can restrict online booking to only patients who have a chart in your EMR.

  1. Login to the Ocean Portal. Click the "Menu" button in the top left corner and select "Online Booking". Click the "Settings" button in the top right corner.
  2. Click Edit next to the booking link you would like to edit.
  3. Uncheck Do you want to limit online booking to patients with a chart in your EMR?. This will allow any patient to book an appointment online. Please note that you will need to create a new chart in your EMR for these brand new patients. Refer to: Accepting brand new patients for online booking.

Restrict to patients who have a certain primary provider

You can restrict a provider's schedule to accept only patients from a certain provider at your clinic. This could mean a provider accepting their own patients, or a medical resident accepting a provider's patients.

Note: Please refer to Your EMR and Ocean Online Booking: What you need to know for details on how Ocean finds the patient's primary provider in your EMR.

  1. Login to the Ocean Portal. Click the "Menu" button in the top left corner and select "Online Booking". Click the "Settings" button in the top right corner.
  2. Click Edit next to the provider's schedule you would like to edit.
  3. Under the Restrictions heading, click the drop down menu and select Patients with selected providers. A search and drop down window will appear. Click on the provider(s) who's patients you would like to allow to book into this schedule. Their name(s) will appear below the table under the "Selected Providers" heading.

Individual patient level restrictions

For PSS users, download this "Online Booking Patient Settings.cfm" custom form and import it into PSS. Use this custom form to restrict patients from booking online entirely, restrict how frequently they can book appointments online, or to set a minimum booking duration for their appointments.

For Med Access users, you can add special terms in the Notes field (Care Assignments & Notes heading) of a patient's chart to apply individual patient-level restrictions. See the table below for a full list of these restrictions.

For Accuro users, you can add special terms in the Paper Chart field of a patient's chart to apply individual patient-level restrictions. See the table below for a full list of these restrictions.

For OSCAR Pro users, you can add special terms in the Notes field of a patient's chart to apply individual patient-level restrictions. See the table below for a full list of these restrictions.

Term Restriction
"no ob" or "no online booking" This won't allow the patient to book online.
"ob#days", "ob q# days", "ob q# d" Where "#" is a number. Will restrict the patient from booking online again until the "#" of days has passed. E.g. adding "ob7days" will ensure a patient waits 7 days to book another appointment online.
#+min Where # is a number. Ensures appointments for this patient are always booked for "#" minutes, irrespective of the appointment duration set in the appointment type configuration page. E.g. "30+min" will ensure the patient is always booked for 30 minutes when they book an appointment online.
Restricting patients based on their answer in the booking form

You can customize your booking form to include questions prior to allowing patients to select their appointment type. You can apply validation to prevent a patient from booking online if they answer a certain way in your booking form.

Add a section prior to the appointment type selection and configure sections to appear as separate pages. Add a label item type with validation that will prevent the patient from being able to proceed. The "Validation Javascript Condition" must be the opposite of the "Show This Field If:" statement.


Restrict the types of appointments that can be booked into a certain time slot

Prerequisites

  • PSS Users: Please ensure your schedule is configured to allow multiple bookings. You can find this setting in the PS Suite scheduler under Appointments -> Change Provider. Select the appropriate provider and ensure "Single Bookings Only" is unchecked as shown in the image on the right.

Providers may want to limit appointments booked online to a particular time slot(s) during the day or week. For example, offering Mental Health appointments from 3:00 - 5:00 PM on Mondays and Wednesdays but at no other time. Another common reason is to ensure that different types of appointments cannot be booked at the same time of day - for example, patients should not be able to book a “Physical” appointment in time slots reserved for “Mental Health” appointments.

PS Suite Med Access Accuro OSCAR Pro

1. Create a placeholder appointment type in your EMR with "online booking" or "/ob" in the name.

    1. First, you'll need to create a new appointment type(s) in your EMR with "online booking" or "/ob" (case sensitive) in the name of the appointment. You'll use this EMR appointment type to assign “placeholder” time slots in your EMR schedule that you would like to make available for appointments booked online only. You may choose to create a single generic “online booking” placeholder appointment type for all appointments to book into, however you can also create more specific placeholders such as “Mental Health /ob” for Mental Health appointments, “Physical /ob” for Physical appointments, or “Telemedicine /ob” for Telemedicine appointments.

       

      When creating your new “placeholder” Appointment Type(s), ensure that you select a unique “Default Background Colour” so that you can easily see where it has been applied in your EMR schedule. For information on where to find appointment types in your EMR, please refer to "Where to find EMR Appointment Types" section in our guide to EMR Appointment Type Mapping

       

      In the image below, a placeholder appointment type has been created for Mental Health appointments - the Name of the appointment type is “Mental Health /ob”, and the Default Background Colour is red. This will be applied to empty time slots the EMR schedule to indicate the times which Mental Health appointments can be booked into.

 

2. Assign a time slot(s) in your EMR using your newly created "online booking" or "/ob" placeholder appointment type.

    1. In your PS Suite schedule, you can now indicate the time slots that are available to be booked online (or indicate specific time slots for specific appointment types) by applying the newly created “online booking” or “/ob” placeholder appointment types to your desired empty time slots. Ensure the time slot(s) you are assigning do not overlap with other assigned time slots or unavailable times (purple ‘x’ in the PS Suite schedule).

       

      To quickly allocate multiple time slots, select the starting time slot, select your “placeholder” appointment type (e.g., “Mental Health /ob”, and indicate the duration in minutes for the number of time slots you wish to allocate (e.g., 120 minutes = 2 hours). You can also apply a recurrence to create a pattern (e.g. if you'd like to set this restriction every week).

       

      The image below provides an example of a properly applied “Mental Health /ob” placeholder appointment type for a 2 hour duration from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM.

If you have created new "online booking or "/ob" appointment types in your EMR and assigned time slots to these new appointment types, login to Ocean Cloud Connect and conduct a full schedule sync. Click the arrow next to Sync Recent Appointments and select Sync Full Schedule.

3. Create your list of appointments available online and enable EMR Appointment Type Mapping.

Note: You must be an administrative user on your Ocean site to configure online booking for the following steps.

    1. Login to the Ocean Portal. Click the Menu button at the top left of the Ocean Portal and select Online Booking. Click the Settings button in the top right corner.
    2. Next to Appointment Types, click Configure. You may have already completed creating your Appointment Types - if not, add the name and duration of appointments you would like to be available for online booking (for all provider schedules), and ensure you have enabled EMR Appointment Type mapping. You can refer to Set Up Appointment Types for Online Booking if necessary before proceeding.

       

      Ensure that you do not map to the newly created "online booking" or "/ob" placeholder appointment types - these will be more relevant in the next step. Ensure that you click Save.

4. Associate the placeholder "online booking" or "/ob" appointment types to their respective appointment within the Provider Schedule.

            1. Within your Online Booking configuration area, select “Edit” next to the relevant Provider Schedule. Under the “Appointment Types” heading, you may see the Appointment Types if you added them previously. If not, you can add the relevant Appointment Types that were created in the previous step to the Provider Schedule now (refer to Set Up Providers' Schedules if needed).

               

              Pressing “Edit Restrictions” next to an Appointment Type allows you to enable restrictions for each type of appointment. For example, to restrict Mental Health appointments to be booked into time slots which have our “Mental Health /ob” placeholder appointment type applied, the first option can be used. Additional Appointment Type Restrictions can be applied if desired. Ensure you press the green “Save Restrictions” button.

               

              Once you have completed and saved the restrictions for each appointment type, ensure you press the “Save” button on the bottom left to save the entire Provider Schedule.
            2. If you want to apply this restriction for all of your providers, you must repeat this step for each individual Provider schedule.

               

              The image below shows the “Mental Health” appointment type is restricted to only book into time slots in the EMR which have the “Mental Health /ob” placeholder appointment type applied as shown in Step 2 above.

Warning: Differences in EMR Appointment Types

The EMR Appointment Type that you configured in Step 3 should be different from the EMR appointment type you assigned in Step 4.

  • In Step 3, you are mapping your online booking appointments to EMR Appointment Types. When this appointment is booked online, it will enter your EMR schedule with the associated EMR Appointment Type. Using the screenshot on the right as an example, booking a "Telephone Visit" appointment online will enter your EMR schedule booked as a "TELEPHONECON" EMR Appointment Type.
  • In Step 4, you are mapping the restriction for the placeholder appointment living on the provider schedule to the time slot assigned in your EMR in Step 2. Ocean will look for the EMR appointment type defined on the restriction, and only book appointments of that type in that schedule, in that slot. Using the screenshot on the right as an example, patients booking a "Telephone Visit" will only see time slots that have been assigned the "online booking" placeholder appointment type. When an appointment is successfully booked, it will enter the time slot assigned as online booking and booked as a "TELEPHONECON" appointment.

Queue an eForm depending on the appointment type selected

Best Practice: Using Ocean Reminders

Patient Reminders are automated emails that are sent out to patients before their scheduled appointments. These automated emails allow you to notify patients of their upcoming appointments, as well as optionally securely send messages and eForms to patients.

When configuring your Ocean Reminders for appointments booked online, ensure that your booking window (how far in the future a patient can book an appointment online) aligns with your reminder window (when your reminders are being sent out to patients).

For example, Ocean Reminders can only go out at minimum one day in advance of the appointment. If you allow patients to book online for same day appointments, they will not receive your reminder email.

Advanced Feature: Using Booking and Post-Booking Forms

If you decide to queue forms for patients to complete using the booking form and post-booking form instead of Ocean Reminders, please note that this is an advanced feature of Ocean. This feature is only recommended for advanced Ocean eForm users. If you are interested in using this feature but are not familiar with Ocean eForms, we have a third party contractor who can assist with setting this up for your clinic. Contact us to learn more.

Ocean's online booking leverages the power of Ocean eForms at two points in time during the patients online booking experience. The first is a booking form and the second is a post-booking form.

Booking Form

The booking form is presented to the patient during Step 3- Details. It's recommended that this eForm is kept brief as we don't want to make it too difficult for patients to book their appointment.

The booking form contains three special items (item reference appointmentType, appointmentDuration and reasonForVisit). It's important that you do not edit these three item types. Ocean is hard coded to populate and pull information that is crucial to the online booking functionality from these fields.

To queue forms using the booking form during Step- 3 Details, use eForm Actions.

For example, if you would like to queue a form based on what appointment your patient has selected, you will need to use the following expression: appointemntType.r == "Follow up" where "Follow up" is the appointment type from your Appointment Type configuration.

Post-Booking Form

The post-booking form is presented to the patient during Step 5- Confirmation.

To queue forms using the post-booking form during Step 5- Confirmation, you'll need to use a formula item type to gather the appointmentType response from the booking form from Step 3.

Caption: appointmentType: $$

Item Type: Formula

Item Reference: appointmentType

Show this field if: false

Formula: ScriptUtil.getResponse("form_ref", "appointmentType");

Where form_ref refers to the eform reference of your booking form. 

From there, use eForm Actions to queue forms depending on what appointment type the patient selected in the booking form from Step 3.

Since the post-booking eForm is optional (patients can simply close the window without completing any eForms you have configured), Ocean Reminders can be a more reliable way of sending patients information and eForms prior to their appointment (see above).

Please note that if you ever change your booking form, you will need to edit the form_ref in your post booking form.