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

Ocean supports accepting new brand patients using Online Booking. The article sections below detail how to configure your Ocean Booking Schedules and Booking Links to support the acceptance of new patients, and the workflow used when accepting a brand new patient via online booking.

Configuration

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

  • Login to the Ocean Portal. Open the 'Menu' in the top left corner and select 'Admin'.
  • Click 'Site Features'.
  • Enable the 'Allow accepted online bookings to create patients in your EMR' checkbox.
  • Click 'Save Changes'.

2. Configure the Ocean Booking Schedule.

  • Open the 'Menu' in the top left corner and select 'Online Booking'.
  • Click the 'Settings' button in the top right corner.
  • Under the 'Booking Schedules' heading, locate the relevant Booking Schedule and click 'Edit'.
  • Under the 'Restrictions' heading, locate the setting titled 'Who is allowed to book into this schedule?' and set it to 'All Patients'.
  • Click the 'Edit Advanced Settings' button at the bottom of the Booking Schedule configuration page.
  • Ensure that your Booking Form is configured to capture the patient demographic information that is required to create new charts in your EMR, as well as basic contact information for the patient in the case that you need to contact them (e.g., sex, health card version code (if applicable), telephone number, email address).

    Tip: We recommend using the 'Online Booking - New Patient Intake ' core form found in the Ocean eForm library.

  • Click the 'Save' button to save your Booking Schedule.

2. Configure the Ocean Booking Link.

  • Under the 'Booking Links' heading, locate the relevant Booking Schedule and click 'Edit'.
  • Under the 'Who can book into this link?' heading, ensure that the 'Limit online booking to patients with a chart in your EMR' setting checkbox is disabled.
  • Under the 'Authentication' heading, ensure that the 'Authentication Type' is set to 'Health Number'.

    Note: Ocean does not support new patient chart creation using Alternate IDs.

  • Click the 'Save' button to save your Booking Link.

Workflow for Accepting New Patients

1. Identify when an appointment has been booked for a new patient.

Once your Booking Schedule and Booking Link has been configured to accept new patients, new patients (i.e., patients without an existing chart in your EMR) will be able to book online. Once an appointment has been booked for a new patient, an appointment will be created in your EMR schedule without an associated patient chart.

Tip: These appointments can be easily identified by the presence of the term '(HN not in EMR: ##########)' in the appointment details.

PS Suite Med Access Accuro OSCAR Pro
  • Additionally, bookings for brand new patients can be easily identified in the 'Online Booking' area of the Ocean Portal by the lack of an existing 'MRN' (Medical Record Number) value.

2. Import the patient into your EMR to create a new patient chart.

  • Once you're ready to create a chart in your EMR for the new patient, locate the booking in the 'Online Booking' area of the Ocean Portal, and click on it to open it.
  • Click the 'Import to EMR' button to trigger the import of the patient details from the Ocean online booking submission into a new patient chart in your EMR.
  • An 'Import' status window will appear indicating the status of the import. If the import was unsuccessful (e.g., due to missing key demographic fields that Ocean needs to create a chart in your EMR), an error message will appear to inform you of the failure.

3. Link the newly created patient chart in your EMR to the booked appointment in your EMR schedule.

After importing the patient into your EMR to create a new patient chart, you can perform the final step of linking the newly-created chart with the appointment in the EMR schedule:

PS Suite Med Access Accuro OSCAR Pro
  • Double-click on the appointment in the Med Access EMR schedule to open the appointment details.
  • Enter the patient's last name and first name in the 'Last Name' and 'First Name' search fields and click the enter/return key on your keyboard to execute the search.
  • Verify that the proper patient chart has been linked to the appointment, and then click 'Save'.
  • The newly-created patient chart has now been linked to the appointment booked in your EMR schedule.

Default Patient Status of 'Unconfirmed'

By default, Med Access sets the 'Patient Status' for newly created patients by Ocean as 'Unconfirmed'. Please ensure that you update the Patient Status to the appropriate value (e.g., '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(s) at your clinic. This could mean a provider accepting their own patients, or a medical resident accepting another physician's patients.

Note: Please refer to Your EMR and Ocean Online Booking: What you need to know for details on which provider fields Ocean can evaluate to determine the patient's 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. Below the 'Restrictions' heading, locate the 'Who is allowed to book into this schedule?' setting, and select Patients with Selected Providers. Use the blue 'Add Provider' button to locate the provider(s) whose patients you would like to allow to book into this schedule. Their name(s) will appear below the table under the "Selected Providers" heading.

  4. For certain EMRs, you can specify the specific EMR field(s) which Ocean should evaluate to determine if the listed provider is a match. Specific information on the provider field mapping options for each EMR can be found within the Set Up Provider Schedules article.

Individual patient level restrictions

Relevant EMR Field

PS Suite

Users can download the "Online Booking Patient Settings.cfm" custom form and import it into your PS Suite EMR (by following Steps 2 & 3 in this support article).

  • Once imported into PS Suite, insert the custom form into the relevant patient chart, and use the settings on 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.

When a restriction is applied using the custom form, the relevant Ocean Restriction Term(s) is/are automatically added in the 'Comments' field of the patient chart. When the patient attempts to book online, Ocean checks the 'Comments' field for the presence of any Ocean Restriction Terms. Restrictions can be removed or changed by updating the custom form found in the patient chart, or by directly editing the 'Comments' field of the patient chart

  • As an alternative to using the custom form, you can refer to the Ocean Restriction Terms table below, and manually enter the relevant restriction term(s) directly into the 'Comments' field of the patient chart.

Med Access

  • Users can add the relevant Ocean Restriction Term(s) in the 'Notes' field (under the Care Assignments & Notes heading) of the patient's chart to apply individual patient-level restrictions. See the table below for a full list of Ocean Restriction Terms.

Accuro

  • Users can add the relevant Ocean Restriction Term(s) in the 'Paper Chart' field of the patient's chart to apply individual patient-level restrictions. See the table below for a full list of Ocean Restriction Terms.

OSCAR Pro

  • Users can add the relevant Ocean Restriction Term(s) in the 'Notes' field of the patient's master record to apply individual patient-level restrictions. See the table below for a full list of Ocean Restriction Terms.

Ocean Restriction Terms

Term Restriction
"no ob" or "no online booking" Prevents the patient from being able to book online.
"ob#days " or "ob q# days" or "ob q# d"

Where "#" is a number. This 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.

If both patient-level restrictions and appointment-level restrictions have been applied, the restriction with the higher value will apply. For example:

  • If the patient-level restriction is 10 days and the appointment-level restriction is 5 days - the patient cannot book for 10 days, but everyone else can book in 5 days.
  • E.g., If the patient-level restriction is 5 days but the appointment-level restriction is 10 days - the patient cannot book for 10 days (like all other patients).
  • E.g., If the patient-level restriction is 5 days but there is no appointment-level type restriction - the patient cannot book for 5 days, but there is no restriction for any other patients.
#+min Where # is a number. This ensures appointments for this patient are always booked for "#" minutes, regardless 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.
  • Patients who have been restricted from booking online using the above restrictions are presented with an error message indicating that their booking could not be processed.
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. Two common examples are provided below:

Prevent Booking Based on a "Yes/No" Question

  • In this example, the patient is unable to book online since they responded "Yes" to the COVID-19 screening question. If the patient responded "No", they would be able to proceed with booking online.

Configuration

Prerequisite

  • Add a new Section/Page before the appointment type selection Section/Page.
  • In the newly created Section/Page, create your desired question item with the corresponding 'Yes'/'No' response options.
  • Within the 'Scripting and More' tab for the item created in Step C, note value in the the 'Item reference' field.

    For clarity, it is recommended you customize this to a recognizable term related to the respective eForm item - e.g., the term 'covid' was chosen for this example.

  • Add a new eForm item, and set the item 'Type 'to 'Label'.

    Within the 'Caption' field, enter the message that should be presented to the patient if they "fail" the screening question above.

  • Within the 'Scripting and More' tab for the item created in Step E, set the 'Field validation' setting to 'Javascript condition'.
  • Within the 'Validation Javascript Condition' field, enter a Javascript expression that prevents the patient from being able to proceed.

    For example, the expression covid.r != "Y" evaluates to false if 'Yes' is chosen in the question above. This logic prevents the patient from proceeding to book online.

    Optionally enter an additional 'Validation Error Message' to display in-line if the patient attempts to continue booking online.

  • Within the 'Show this field if' setting, enter a Javascript expression that controls the display of the label item.

    For example, the expression covid.r == 'Y' evaluates to true if 'Yes' is chosen in the question above. This triggers the visibility of the label item (i.e., shown only when the patient "fails" the screening question by answering 'Yes').

  • Press 'Save Changes' in the bottom right corner of the eForm editor.

Prevent Booking Specific Appointment Type(s) Based on a Patient Demographic

  • In this example, the patient is unable to book online since they are not old enough to book a "Senior Flu Shot" appointment.

Configuration

Prerequisites

  • Add a new eForm item anywhere below the Appointment Type question. Set the 'Type' to 'Label', and leave the 'Caption' blank.
  • Within the 'Scripting and More' tab, set the 'Field validation' setting to 'Javascript condition'.
  • Using the 'Validation Javascript Condition', enter a Javascript condition to be evaluated. If the condition evaluates to true, the condition is satisfied.

    For example, the condition appointmentType.r == "Senior Flu Shot" && pt.GetAge() >= 65 is used to verify if the patient is 65 years or older after they have selected the 'Senior Flu Shot' appointment type.

    You can replace the 'Senior Flu Shot' label within the condition with your own Appointment Label, and adjust the age as needed.

    Similarly, you can make use of additional ScriptPatient ("pt") Functions to verify other patient properties.

  • Within the 'Validation Error Message' setting, enter the error message that should be displayed to a patient when they do not pass the validation condition.
  • Within the 'Show this field if' setting, enter a Javascript expression that controls the display of the label item.

    For example, the expression appointmentType.r == "Senior Flu Shot" evaluates to true if the 'Senior Flu Shot' option is chosen when selecting the type of appointment to book.

    This triggers the visibility of the label item, however since the 'Caption' field is left blank, it will simply appear as a blank line until the patient attempts to continue booking (at which time they are presented with the 'Validation Error Message' you configured).

  • Press 'Save Changes' in the bottom right corner of the eForm editor.

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

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

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.

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: appointmentType.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.