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Enabling online appointment requests

Enabling online appointment requests

The online appointment requests feature is integrated with your Availability schedule, which allows you to set specific times of the day when clients can request appointments. All new appointment requests will need to be either approved or declined by you.

Note: Online appointment requests are only available on the Essential or Plus plan. If you'd like to learn more about our plans, see our Pricing page.

In this guide, we'll cover:


Turning on the Client Portal

Clients can request appointments online through your Client Portal. You'll first want to make sure that you've enabled the Client Portal. To do this:

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  • Click Save changes

Customizing your Client Portal web address

Next, you can customize your Client Portal URL, also known as your domain. This is the link that clients will use to access your practice Client Portal to view your availability and request an appointment. Here's how you can do this:

  • Navigate to Settings > Scheduling > Client portal permissions
  • Enter your desired URL for Default domain 
    • Click Save to update your domain
    • Click the lock icon to lock your domain

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  • Once you lock the URL, click View Link to preview your Client Portal 

We recommend locking your Client Portal URL before inviting clients to the Client Portal. To learn more, see Inviting clients to the Client Portal.

Important: If your Client Portal web address is locked, you won't be able to make changes to it directly. To unlock your Client Portal URL, please submit a help request to our team.


Customizing your Client Portal

Practice name

The header of your Client Portal is pulled from the Practice Name at Settings > Practice > Practice details.

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Office location

Your office name(s) and address(es) are pulled from the office locations entered at Settings > Practice > Practice details.

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Note: You can choose to hide or display your exact address from new clients on this page. To learn more, see Adding office locations.


Enabling online appointment requests for your practice

Now that your Client Portal is set up, you're ready to enable online appointment requests. To do this:

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    • This opens more options where you can customize your online appointment requests settings
  • After selecting your preferences, click Save changes

In the dropdown menu under Appointment start times, you can choose how clients will book appointments:

  • Based on service duration: 
    • Clients will see available appointment times at the session duration.
    • For example, if the session is 50 minutes and your availability block starts at 10 AM, they will see 10 AM, 10:50 AM, 11:40 AM, etc. 
    • You can set your service codes to include buffer times before or after the appointment, which will change the overall service duration. For example, if a service code's Default Duration is 50 minutes and has a 10 minute buffer, clients will see available appointment times on the hour).
  • On the hour: 
    • Clients will see sessions available only on the hour. 
    • For example, if your availability block starts at 11 AM, they’ll see 11 AM, 12 PM, 1 PM, and so on. However, if your availability block starts at 11:30 AM, they’ll see the first available session at 12 PM.
  • On the half hour: 
    • Clients will see available appointment times every half hour. 
    • For example, if your availability block starts at 9 AM, they’ll see 9 AM, 9:30 AM, 10 AM, 10:30 AM, and so on.
  • On the quarter hour: 
    • Clients will see available appointment times every quarter hour. 
    • For example, if your availability block starts at 12 PM, they’ll see 12 PM, 12:15 PM, 12:30 PM, 12:45 PM, 1 PM, 1:15 PM, and so on.

Note: If you want to start your availability at the half hour for hour-long appointments, we recommend allowing clients to book Based on service duration. This is also the recommended setup if you have multiple services of different duration length. To learn more about scheduling hour-long appointments starting on the half hour, see Managing your Availability.

Other options on this page include:

  • Limiting how far in advance clients can request appointments
    • The default is set to 3 months, but you can extend that to 6 months or even as little as 1 week out
    • Clients will only be able to book an appointment as far into the future as you have limited
  • Allowing new clients to request appointments online
  • Allowing requests from new individual clients, couple clients, or contacts (on behalf of someone else)
  • Requiring a credit card from new clients when they book an appointment online

When you make changes to this page, make sure to click Save changes. You can always make changes to these settings later.

Important: If you granted clients Client Portal access before enabling online appointment requests for your practice, you'll need to turn this on for each client individually.

To update a client's settings to permit online appointment requests:

  • Navigate to the client's Overview page
  • Click Edit
  • Open the Client Portal tab
  • Check the box for Allow online appointment requests

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  • Click Save permissions

Using the Availability setup tool

Once you’ve customized your online appointment request settings, you can use our Availability setup tool to set up your availability. To get started:

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Note: If you already have availability blocks set up, clicking Manage availability will take you to your Availability schedule on your calendar, where you'll be able to edit or delete existing availability blocks and create new ones. To learn more, see Managing your Availability.

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  • Set a start date for this availability block, as well as start time(s) and end time(s)
  • Select whether you’d like this availability block to be Recurring
    • Specify how often you’d like it to repeat, the day(s) it should repeat on, and when you’d like it to end
  • Select the Location(s) you'd like this availability block to apply to

Note: A location is required to set up your availability. You can manage your locations from Settings > Practice > Practice details. For more information, see Adding office locations.

  • Services that are enabled for online appointment requests will automatically populate under Services
    • Click Add service to make additional services available to clients during this availability block
    • Click the - next to a service to make it unavailable

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  • When you're finished, click Save

Note: You can edit your service codes in Settings > Services and products > Services. To learn more, see Creating and using service codes and products.


Refining online appointment request options

With availability scheduling, you can determine which services are available for online appointment requests. This means your clients will have the ability to choose the specific service code that they need. 

Additionally, you can make appointments available for new clients to book online, or require clients to call to request an appointment. You can also offer various appointment request forms depending on which client types you're currently taking on. 

Before getting started, please make sure that you have online appointment requests enabled for your practice.

Designating a service code for online appointment requests

You can determine which services you want to make available for online appointment requests. You'll also be able to decide the times these service codes are available by managing your Availability.

  • Navigate to Settings > Services and products > Services
  • Select a service code
  • Check Allow online appointment requests

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  • Click Save

Allowing new clients to book online

If you're accepting new clients and want them to be able to request appointments online, you can designate this for each specific service code under Settings > Services and products > Services. Click the service you want to edit and check the box to Allow requests from new clients under Booking options.

Note: You can only allow requests from new clients if you’ve already selected the service to be Available for online appointment requests.

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If you're accepting various client types as new clients, you can indicate this by following these steps:

  • Navigate to Settings > Scheduling > Client portal permissions
  • Make sure that Yes is selected under Allow requests from new clients
  • Check the box next to each client type that you're currently accepting:
    • New individual clients
    • New couple clients
    • New contacts (on behalf of someone else)
      • For example, a guardian requesting an appointment for a minor

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You can also make these changes by navigating to the Calendar and selecting the gear icon > Appointment request settings.

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This will determine which appointment request form displays on your Appointment-request widget, which is designed for new clients to book appointments online. When a new client requests an appointment, you’ll always have the option to confirm or decline their request.

Requiring a credit card for new clients to request appointments

If you'd like to require a credit card for new clients that request appointments online:

Note: If you haven’t set up your Online Payments account, you won’t be able to request a credit card when new clients are booking appointments online. To learn more about Online Payments, see Processing Online Payments.

Requiring clients to call to request

You may want to collect additional information before allowing clients to select certain services. In this case, you can require a call to request an appointment:

  • Navigate to Settings > Services and products > Services
  • Select a service code
  • Check Require call to request appointment

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  • Click Save

Note: For online appointment requests, your services will appear in the order they were added to your account.


Setting up clients for online appointment requests

New clients and existing clients can access your Client Portal in a few ways. For new clients, you have the following two options:

Option 1: Provide your client with your unique Client Portal web address, either by email or by embedding it on your website. To do this:

  • Locate your Client Portal web address by going to Settings > Scheduling > Client portal permissions
  • Click the copy link icon or highlight your domain to copy the link
  • Paste the domain into where you're providing the link to the client

When a new client navigates to your practice’s Client Portal, they'll need to click I'm a New Client to request a session.

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  •  

Option 2: After you speak to a client via phone, you can add them as a client. After doing this, you’ll have the ability to send them a Welcome email, which will include a link to the Client Portal. 

Existing clients need to be granted Client Portal access to schedule through your link. Once existing clients are granted access, they’ll be able to login to request an appointment. See Inviting clients to the Client Portal for more details. 

Note: For more information on how to view, confirm, or decline appointment requests appear in your account, see Managing appointment requests .


Setting up a phone screening services for new clients

Many clinicians create a phone screening service for new clients to schedule an initial consultation before committing to a full appointment. This type of consultation is a way for you to assess a prospective client and set expectations and guidelines, while still giving therapy seekers the ability to request an appointment from your Monarch profile.

To do this, you’ll first want to set up a new service code for phone screening:

  • Navigate to Settings > Services and products > Services
  • Click + Add service
  • Use the dropdown menu under Service to select 00000 - Initial Consultation - No Charge
    • You can add your own service code and change the description of the service as needed
  • Set the Rate and adjust the Default Duration
    • Most clinicians set the Rate to $0 and the Default Duration to 15 minutes
  • Check the boxes for Allow online appointment requests and Allow requests from new clients

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  • Click Save

Note: See Creating a new custom service code for more information.

Once your phone screening service code is created, you’ll want to either add this service to your existing availability blocks or create new availability blocks specifically for this service. To do this:

  • Navigate to the Calendar
  • Select the gear icon > Availability schedule
  • Select an existing availability block to edit it, or click any empty spot on the calendar to add a new availability block
  • Adjust the settings as needed
  • Under Services, click Add service and select the new initial consultation service that was just created

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  • Click Save

Requesting an appointment from the client's end

When your client accesses your Client Portal, they'll be prompted to indicate whether they're a new or existing client:

  • A new client is one that you haven't yet added to your SimplePractice account
  • An existing client is one you have already added to your SimplePractice account

New clients will be given the option of requesting an appointment based on your availability.

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After selecting a date and time, they'll be prompted to provide information about themselves to complete their request.

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After clicking Request Appointment, they'll see a confirmation page that lets them add the appointment to their personal calendar and notifies them that you'll still need to confirm the appointment.

Note: To help clients who need assistance with logging into your Client Portal, see Assisting clients with signing into the Client Portal. To provide a walkthrough to your clients of the Client Portal login process, see Logging in to the Client Portal.

You'll receive an email alerting you of the appointment request. The request will also appear in your SimplePractice account.


Managing appointment requests

When a client requests an appointment, you'll receive an email alert and a notification at the left navigation menu. You can click Requests to view appointment requests.

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Accepting appointment requests

To accept an appointment request:

  • Click Requests in the left navigation menu
  • Choose Accept

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  • Select the documents you'd like to send to the client, if any, and customize the confirmation email before sending

Note: When accepting an appointment request, you'll always see the option to send documents to a client, even if they're an existing client.

Declining appointment requests

To decline an appointment request:

  • Click Requests in the left navigation menu
  • Select the three horizontal dots next to the request
  • Choose Decline

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  • Select your reason for declining
    • If you select Other, you’ll be prompted to leave a comment

Note: The reason for declining and the comment won’t automatically be shared with the client. If you’d like to include these answers in your Appointment Declined emails, see Editing appointment confirmation/decline emails.

  • Customize the email as needed, then click Decline & Send Now

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If you decline an appointment request for a new client, an Inactive profile will be automatically created for the client. They’ll receive an email that declines the appointment request and includes a link to request a new appointment date and time.

Note: If you intend to see the client at a later date, you can set the client to Active by first navigating to your Clients list. Here, sort the list by Inactive clients, click the three dots within the Manage column, and then select Make active.

If you decline an appointment request for an existing client, they’ll receive an email indicating you declined the appointment request, along with a link to the Client Portal where they can request a new date and time.

Filtering your appointment requests

If you’re an Account Owner or clinician with entire practice access, you can view appointment requests for your entire practice or only your requests. To only view your requests, click the All clinicians dropdown to select your name and Apply.

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You can also sort requests by:

Viewing appointment requests on the calendar

To view an appointment request on your calendar:

  • Click the Pending appointment
    • Pending appointments appear with diagonal lines on the calendar

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  • Review the appointment details on the flyout
  • Choose to Decline or Accept

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You’ll then be able to proceed with sending a decline email or a confirmation email.


Editing appointment confirmation/decline emails

You can edit the default emails that client’s receive when you confirm or decline an appointment request. You’ll also be able to further personalize the emails at the time of confirming or declining. 

To customize appointment confirmation emails on a practice-wide level:

  • Navigate to Settings > Client notifications > Email
  • Click the pencil icon next to Appointment confirmation

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  • Edit the Message as necessary
  • Click Save

You can repeat these steps for these other appointment confirmation emails:

  • Appointment confirmation with documents
  • Video appointment confirmation with documents

To customize appointment declined emails on a practice-wide level:

  • Navigate to Settings > Client notifications > Email
  • Scroll to Appointment declined (new client) or Appointment declined (existing client)
  • Click the pencil icon to edit

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  • Edit the Message as necessary
  • If you’d like to include the reason for declining the appointment and the comment section, use the Appointment dropdown menu and select:
    • Appointment Decline Reason
    • Appointment Decline Note

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  • Click Save

For detailed information on using macros, see Explaining client email and reminder macros. To learn more about the different email templates included in your account, and when each type of email is sent, see When are different email templates sent to clients?

Important: Emails aren’t a secure form of communication, and these emails to clients aren’t encrypted. We do provide the option to include some patient health information (PHI) like a client's name, address, phone number, and more in these email messages. Please make sure that you use this feature appropriately based on your practice's HIPAA security requirements.

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