Appointment Rules in Front Desk allows users to block out areas of the Appointment Book, which can designate booking times, lunch breaks, annual leave or other time periods. When ruling out a period of time certain conditions can be set as to what can be done within that period. For example, a ‘Lunch Break’ could be created to repeat every weekday from 12:30PM-1:00PM, with a condition to not allow any bookings during this time or perhaps only manual bookings but not those using the appointment scheduler. The last option allows for patients to be squeezed in during this period as an exception, although appointments are generally not wanted during this period.
A key point to remember when using Rules is that they follow a hierarchy to determine which rules takes precedence over other rules. Essentially, rules that are lower in the Appointment Book Rules list will overwrite rules that appear above. This provides you the powerful functionality of being able to apply layers of rules to get your desired requirement.
You can change the precedence of a Rule by selecting the rule and using the up/down arrow buttons.
We encourage starting with a blanket rule to make the entire clinic unavailable, and then enter in each practitioner’s available times.
Here is how to do just that:
Making a practitioner unavailable
Go to the Appointment Book tab of System Information, and select Rules.
Click Add to create a new rule.
Enter an appropriate description (‘Unavailable’) and select the colour the rule will display with.
Beneath the colour selection, you will notice three options for the rule to follow.
Can make manual appointments in this period:
Allows manual appointments to be created within the rule area.
Available for Scheduler/Waiting List/Booking Gateway:
Allows appointments via the Appointment Scheduler, Waiting List and Patient Booking Gateway to be created within the rule area.
Show Appointment Book Grid Lines:
Adds grid lines between each cell within the rule period. Without this selection the rule period will appear as a single solid block, which is useful for areas not allowing appointments. You may wish to enable grid lines for rules that designate an area as ‘Available’.
In this example where we are creating a large ‘unavailable’ rule, we would like to allow staff to book appointments manually if they need to, but we do not want any automated appointment creation or grid lines.
Within the ‘Apply to’ section, select whether the rule applies to the entire Clinic, a Practice Group or an individual Practitioner. We are selecting Clinic to have the rule apply to everyone in the practice.
Enter when this rule will occur. This can either be a Date Range and/or Select Days of the week which can include All Week, Weekdays or Weekends or Selected Days.
Select the Duration the rule will apply on those days. In this case our rule will apply all week, and the duration will be All Day. Alternatively we could enter a Time Range if we only wanted to rule over select hours.
Click OK to complete the rule creation.
With this rule created all practitioners will be ruled out on the appointment book for the entire week when using the appointment scheduler, waiting list and patient booking gateway, but not for manual appointments. If you view your appointment book now, it should be covered with your chosen colour.
We can now begin ‘layering’ rules on top of this to enter the times the practitioners are available for general appointments.
Adding rules for availability.
Click Add to create a new rule.
Enter an appropriate description (‘Available’) and select the colour that represents availability for your practice. In most cases this is the default white with black text.
Select the options to apply to the rule. We are making an ‘available’ rule, so we would like to allow all appointments including manual and automated appointments.
Select who this rule will apply to. In this example the rule will apply to the Practitioner Robert Jones.
Select the frequency of the rule. In this case we recommend also selecting a date range, which will later be combined with a Repetition. The benefit of this is that you can easily change the dates this rule starts and stops, leaving more flexibility if the practitioner needs to change their hours.
When using a repetition the Date Range should be set to cover a single week. The rule will apply appropriately to the days and hours of that week, which will then be repeated for a certain number of weeks.
Enter the Duration the practitioner will be available on the selected days.
Set a Repetition on the rule to repeat the rule in the future.
With the ‘Available’ rule created we now have two layered rules. The first rule applies a colour and makes the entire appointment book unavailable (other than for manual appointments), while the second rule makes an individual practitioner available for certain hours within that ‘unavailable’ period.
From here you can keep layering rules as needed to set a different availability per practitioner, to add lunch breaks and to colour-code your appointment book for certain appointment types or your personal preferences.