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.


Control billing for provider schedules

All active provider schedules will be billed and all deactivated provider schedules will not be billed. To stop a provider's schedule from being billed (e.g. if they are on vacation or simply want to stop accepting appointments booked online for some time), you can easily stop billing by deactivating their schedule. 

Deactivate a provider's schedule.

  • 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.
  • Next to the Provider Schedules heading, click Configure.
  • To stop the billing for a provider schedule, simply click Deactivate next to the provider's schedule configuration. This will stop billing for that provider's schedule. You can easily reactivate schedules at any time by clicking Activate.

Accepting brand new patients for online booking

Ocean can allow brand new patients who don't already have a chart in your EMR to book online. Unfortunately, the Telus API doesn't allow Ocean to create new charts in PSS or Med Access. This guide will walk you through how to configure your provider's schedule and your booking link to accept new patients to book online, and how to import the online booking notes into a new patient's chart after it's been created in your EMR.

Warning: Ocean can't create charts in PSS or Med Access EMRs

*Please note that Ocean can't create a new chart in Telus PS Suite or Med Access EMRs. Therefore, you will need to create "stub" charts for new patients and import any information captured in your booking link from Ocean's eRequest tab.
  1. Configure 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.
    • 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.
  2. Create a "stub" chart in your EMR and import the online booking eRequest.

    • Login to the Ocean Portal. Click the "Menu" button in the top left corner and select "Online Booking". Use the drop down menu on the left side bar to filter by listings, schedules or online booking links. New online booking appointments are recorded in the Needs Review tab. Once you've found the eRequest for the new patient, click to see the full details of the booking.
    • Login to PSS and create a new record for this patient. PSS requires at minimum first name, surname, date of birth, sex and health card number. Copy this information from the booking in Ocean to the new patient record. Click Save.
    • Once you've created the new patient's chart, navigate back to the booking in Ocean. Click the Import into EMR button. Ocean will look in your EMR for a matching health number and will import the details from the booking into the newly created patient's chart.
    • Navigate back to PSS. Find the new patient's appointment (it will have "HN not in EMR" in the details). You can now assign your new patient to this appointment.

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, or to set a minimum booking duration for their appointments.

For Med Access users, you can add special terms in a patient's chart to restrict them from booking online. In the Notes field (Care Assignments & Notes heading), adding "no ob" or "no online booking" won't allow the patient to book online with Ocean.

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.


Enforcing an online booking cancellation window

A patient can receive a confirmation email of their appointment booked online by providing an email address after they have selected their appointment date and time slot. This confirmation email will include a button that allows the patient to cancel the appointment (prior to the appointment date and time). When a patient cancels their appointment, it will be removed from the EMR schedule immediately and the booking cancellation will be denoted by a red strikethrough in the Ocean Portal.

To create a cancellation window for appointments booked online, you will need to add a formula item in your booking form. This formula item sets the cancellation window for the provider schedule its eForm is assigned to.

Add the ax_minHoursNoticeForCancellation item type in your booking form.

  • 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.
  •  
  • Click Edit next to the provider's schedule you would like to edit.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Edit Advanced Settings. This will reveal your booking form and post booking form.
  • Next to your booking form, click Edit. This will open the eForm editor.
  • In the eForm editor, click the green plus icon Add Item. In the General tab, set the caption to ax_minHoursNoticeForCancellation:$$. Set the item type to Formula.
  • In the Note Formatting tab, for the field "Create a note for this item:" select Never.
  • In the Scripting and More tab, set the item reference to ax_minHoursNoticeForCancellation, set "Show this field if:" false and in the Formula field, enter the number of hours for your cancellation window (e.g. entering 24 will allow patients to cancel their appointments 24 hours prior to their scheduled appointment via their cancellation email).

Warning:

If you switch to a different online booking eForm in the future, you will need to include this item type in your new booking form to retain the cancellation window.

If you decide to edit your online booking eForm, do not edit the items referenced "appointmentType", "appointmentDuration" or "reasonForVisit". These are special item types that set the appointment details in your EMR scheduler.

The appointment types configured from Step 1 will be generated in a section with the item reference “appointmentType” in this booking form.

The appointment durations configured from Step 1 will be generated in a section with the item reference “appointmentType” in this booking form.

The "reasonForVisit" item will populate the patients response in the details field of the appointment in your EMRs scheduler. 

It’s highly suggested that you do not edit these items in the booking form. 


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 Change Provider window of the scheduler (ensure "Single Bookings Only" is unchecked).

Providers may want to limit appointments booked online to a particular time slot during the week.

1. Create an appointment type in your EMR with "online booking" or "/ob" in the title.

      1. First, you'll need to create an appointment type in your EMR with "online booking" or "/ob" in the title. You'll use this EMR appointment type to assigning time slots in your schedule that you would like to make available for appointments booked online only. For where to find appointment types in your EMR, please refer to Where to find EMR Appointment Types in our guide to EMR Appointment Type Mapping

2. Assign a time slot in your EMR to your newly created "online booking" or "/ob" EMR appointment type.

        1. In your scheduler, open the time slots you would like to restrict for appointments booked online by assigning them your newly created "online booking" or "/ob" EMR appointment type. Ensure the time slot you are assigning doesn't overlap with other assigned time slots or unavailable times (purple x in PSS, or non working hours in Med Access). You can apply a reoccurrence to create a pattern (e.g. if you'd like to set this restriction every week).
PS Suite Med Access
    In the Book Appointment window, select the appointment type from the drop down menu. You can change the duration and even set a Repeat pattern, if desired.

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. Map these appointments in Ocean.

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

          1. Login to the Ocean Portal. Click the Menu button at the top of the Ocean Portal and select Online Booking. Click the Settings button in the top right corner.
          2. Configure your Appointment Types and ensure you have enabled EMR Appointment Type mapping. Ensure you are not mapping to the newly create "online booking" or "/ob" EMR appointment type you just created.
          3. Edit the Provider Schedule you would like to apply the appointment restriction. Once you've added the appointment type(s) to the provider schedule, click the Edit Restrictions button. Check off "Only book [appointment type] in [EMR appointment type] EMR time slots" and select the "online booking" or "/ob" EMR appointment type from the dropdown list. Click Save.
          4. If you want to apply this restriction for all of your providers, you must repeat this step for all providers' schedules.

Warning: Differences in EMR Appointment Types

The EMR appointment type that you configured in step 1 should be different from the appointment type you are configuring to this restriction.

Mapping your online booking appointment type(s) to EMR appointment type(s) will allow Ocean to book the appointment in your EMR schedule and assign it the defined EMR appointment type. 

The EMR appointment type being assigned in the appointment type restriction of the provider schedule tells Ocean to search for time slots that have been assigned this EMR appointment type. Ocean will only book these appointment types in those time slots. 


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.