Online appointment requests allow your clients to view your availability and book online.
Availability Scheduling is integrated with online appointment requests, which allows you to set specific times of the day that you want to make available to clients, as well as set specific service codes and enable our Call-to-Request feature. To learn how to set your Availability so clients can request appointments online, see Managing your Availability.
Note: Clients can only request appointments online if your account is on the Professional Plan. See SimplePractice Plans and Pricing to learn more about our subscription plan options.
In this guide, we'll cover:
- Turning on the Client Portal
- Creating your Client Portal Web Address
- Customizing your Client Portal
- Enabling online appointment requests for your practice
- Using the online appointment requests setup wizard
- Designating service codes for online appointment requests, allowing new clients to book online, and requiring clients to call to request
- Setting up existing clients for online appointment requests
- Setting up new clients for online appointment requests
- Requesting an appointment from the client's end
- Confirming and declining appointments
- Editing appointment email confirmations/declines
- Important details to know
Turning on the Client Portal
You'll first want to make sure that you've enabled the Client Portal. You can enable the Client Portal by following these steps:
- Navigate to Settings > Client Portal
- Make sure the toggle on top of the page is blue, indicating it's turned on
Creating your Client Portal Web Address
To allow your clients to request appointments online, you need to create your Client Portal Web Address, also known as the Client Portal URL. This is the link that clients will click to see your availability and request an appointment. You can post this on your website so that your clients can easily book appointments online. Here's how:
- Navigate to Settings > Client Portal
- Here, you'll see a recommended practice link based on your practice name and available URLs
- If you want to change your Client Portal URL, click change your domain
- Enter your desired URL, and click Save & Lock
Important: Once you lock your Client Portal Web Address, you won't be able to make changes to it directly. If you need to change it, you can send our team a help request.
Once the URL is locked, you can take a look at your Client Portal to see what it looks like to your clients.
Note: It’s best to lock your Client Portal before sending out invites to the Client Portal. You can learn more about sending Client Portal invites here: Inviting your clients to the Client Portal.
Customizing your Client Portal
The header of your Client Portal is pulled from the Practice Name at Settings > My Practice > Details. You can customize it to be anything you like.
Your office name and address are pulled from the Office Locations entered at Settings > My Practice > Locations.
Note: You can decide whether you want to hide or display your exact address from prospective clients here: Hiding or displaying your address publicly.
Enabling online appointment requests for your practice
Now that your Client Portal is built, you're ready to enable online appointment requests. Here's how:
- Navigate to Settings > Client Portal.
- Click the check box next to Allow clients to make online appointment requests. This opens more options to customize your online appointment requests page. After setting your preferences, click Save Settings.
Here you’ll be able to determine how clients can book appointments:
- According to Service Duration: This selection has some flexibility to it. Clients will see sessions at the session duration. For example: if the session is 50 minutes and your availability block starts at 10am, they will see 10am, 10:50am, 11:40am, etc. You can set your service codes to have a buffer time to add minutes before or after the session so this will change the overall session duration (ex: If the code is 50 minutes and you set a 10 minute buffer, clients will see session on the hour).
- On the hour: Clients will see sessions available only on the full hour. For example if your availability block starts at 11am, they will see 11am, 12pm, 1pm and so on. However if your availability block starts at 11:30am, they will see the first available session at 12pm.
- On the half hour: Clients will see sessions available on every half hour. For example if your availability block starts at 9 am, they will see 9am, 9:30am, 10am, 10:30am and so on.
- On the quarter hour: Clients will see sessions available on every quarter hour. For example if your availability block starts at 12pm, they will see 12pm, 12:15pm, 12:30pm, 12:45pm, 1pm, 1:15pm and so on.
Note: If you want to start your availability at the half hour for hour long sessions, we recommend allowing clients to book appointments According to Service Duration. This is also the recommended set up if you have multiple services of different duration length. You can learn how to schedule hour sessions starting on the half hour in our guide: Managing your Availability.
Other options on this page include:
- Allowing new clients to book online, selecting if you would like to request a credit card to book, setting how far in advance your clients can book, and setting the time limit for booking appointments online to prompt a client to Call-to-Request.
Important: When enabling online appointment requests, if you've already enabled Client Portal access for your clients, you'll need to go into each client's Overview page, and click Edit > Client Portal. You can then turn on the option to allow the client to book online and click Save. This will need to be turned on for each client individually if you granted them Client Portal access before enabling online appointment requests.
Note: You can learn more about Stripe by viewing this guide: Getting started with Online Payments in SimplePractice.
- You can also limit 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. This means that clients will only be able to book an appointment as far into the future as you have limited.
- In addition, you can set the time range where clients will need to Call-to-Request. The default is within 24 hours, but you can set this to as little as one hour or as far out as 5 days. You’ll also be able to set service codes to be Call-to-Request always.
- When you make changes to this page, always make sure to click Save. You can always make changes to the settings above to figure out which settings work best for you.
Important: If you've already enabled Client Portal access for your clients and you enable online appointment requests afterwards, you'll need to update each client's settings to allow them to book online. To do this:
- Navigate to each client's Overview page
- Click Edit
- Select Client Portal
- Click the check box next to Self-schedule appointments
- Click Save Features
Using the online appointment requests setup wizard
If you'd like to set up your online appointment requests settings in one easy flow, you can use our online appointment requests setup wizard. To set up your online appointment requests using the online appointment requests setup wizard, follow these steps:
- Navigate to Settings > Client Portal
- Click Open online appointment-request set up wizard
- You'll be prompted to customize how clients can request appointments, as well as set which services are available for new clients
- Note: For more information on these settings, please see Designating service codes for online appointment requests, allowing new clients to book online, and requiring clients to call to request
- Click Save and Continue
- Next, check the box next to the services you want to be available for online appointment requests
- If you need to edit a service, click Edit next to the service you wish to modify, and click Update
- When you're finished selecting your services, click Save and Continue
- Next, you can specify your availability for your online appointment requests services by selecting the dates, times, office locations, how often they repeat, which days of the week they're available, and the services offered for your availability slots
- Note: For more information on setting up availability, please see Managing your availability
- When you've set up your availability blocks, click Save and Continue
- You'll then be able to verify your availability time blocks as well as open the Client Portal to confirm what existing clients will be able to see
- When you've finished and are satisfied with your settings, click Done
Designating service codes for online appointment requests, allowing new clients to book online, and requiring clients to call to request
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. You can also make appointments available for new clients to book online and require clients to call to request an appointment. You can even offer various appointment request forms depending on which client types you're currently taking on. Before getting started here, please make sure that you have online appointment requests enabled for your practice.
Designating a service code for online appointment requests
To get started, you'll need to determine which services you want to make available for online appointment requests. You'll be able to decide the times these service codes are available by managing your Availability.
- Navigate to Settings > Billing and Services > Services
- Select a service code
- Check Available for online appointment requests
- Click Save
Allowing new clients to book online
If you're accepting new clients, and you want them to be able to request appointments online, you'll designate this for each specific service code under Settings > Billing and Services > Services, click the service you want to edit and make your changes under the Booking Options section.
If you've selected Available for online appointment requests, you'll see the option to Allow for New Clients. Check this box for each of the services you'd like new clients to be able to request:
If you're accepting various client types as new clients, you can make unique Appointment Request forms available for each client type that you're currently taking on by following these steps:
- Navigate to Settings > Client Portal > Allow new individual clients to request appointments
- Check the box next to each client type that you're currently accepting. These options include: individual clients, couples, and/or contacts booking on behalf of someone else (such as a guardian requesting an appointment for a minor). This will determine which appointment request forms display on your Booking Widget so that the appropriate information is collected depending on which client type is requesting an appointment.
When a new client requests an appointment, you’ll still have the option to decline or accept the appointment.
Requiring a credit card for new clients to request appointments
If you'd like to require a credit card for online appointment requests, go to Settings > Client Portal > Allow new individual clients to request appointments and check the box to select Require a credit card for new clients to request an appointment. Now, new clients will be prompted to add a credit card. If you haven’t set up your account with Stripe, you’ll be prompted with information about Stripe to setup a new account. You won’t be able to request a credit card without an Online Payments account.
Requiring clients to call to request
You may want additional information before allowing clients to request certain services. In this case, you can require that they call to request an appointment:
- Navigate to Settings > Billing and Services > Services
- Select a service code
- Check Require Clients to call to request available appointment
- Click Save
Note: For online appointment requests, your services will appear in the order that you added them to your account.
Setting up existing clients for online appointment requests
You'll need to grant your existing clients Client Portal access if you haven't already before they can schedule through your link.
To do this, go to your client's Overview page > Edit details > Client Portal tab and click Send Email.
- The welcome email they receive will provide them with a Client Portal link. When your client clicks the link within the email, they will be logged into their Client Portal. You can read more about our Instant Sign-in feature here: Instant Sign-in.
- Clients that have already been invited to the Client Portal can enter their email address to receive their unique link to sign in.
Setting up new clients for online appointment requests
Option #1: Provide your client with your unique Client Portal Web Address, either by email or by embedding it on your website. Here's how:
- Locate your Client Portal Web Address link by going to Settings > Client Portal.
- Highlight your domain and copy the link to your computer's clipboard so that you can paste it wherever you need.
- After a new client clicks your Client Portal Web Address, they will need to click New Client to request a session.
Option #2: After you speak to a client via phone, you can also quickly enter their basic information and send them the scheduling link.
- Click +Create > Create Client.
- Enter the client's name, email, and any other information you have, then click Create & Continue. An email address is required to be able to send the client a Client Portal invitation email.
- Select the documents you want to share and edit the default welcome email as needed. Click Share & Send Now to send the welcome email.
- Your client will receive an email prompting them to set up their Client Portal. They can log in and then request their first appointment. The new appointment request will show on your Calendar homepage so you can Accept or Decline it.
- Once you've approved your client's appointment request, you'll be given the option to send additional documents and customize the notification email.
Requesting an appointment from the client's end
When your client clicks your Client Portal Web Address link, they will be taken to your Client Portal where they will indicate if they are a new client or an existing client.
- A new client is one that you have not yet added to your SimplePractice account.
- An existing client is one you have already added to your SimplePractice account.
A new client will immediately be presented with the option to schedule a session with you based on your calendar availability.
Once a new client chooses a time, they will be prompted to provide information to complete their request.
Once they click Request Appointment, they will see a confirmation page that allows them to put the appointment on their calendar and informs them that the therapist is required to confirm the appointment.
You will receive an email alerting you to the appointment request and the request will also appear on your SimplePractice account.
Confirming and declining appointment requests
- After your client has requested an appointment, the request will appear in your SimplePractice account and you'll receive an email alert.
- You'll see a list of requests on the top panel of your Calendar homepage with the option to accept or decline each request individually.
- Select Accept or Decline.
- Note: You can visually distinguish the pending appointment from scheduled appointments on your calendar.
- If the appointment request is accepted, a new window will appear where you can select documents to share and customize the email sent to the client.
- If the appointment is declined, then the client will still be automatically created, but their profile will be set to Inactive.
- If you intend to see the client at a later date, you can set the client back to Active by navigating to your Clients list, and sorting by Inactive Clients. From there, click Manage > Make active next to the client's name.
Appointment confirmation and decline emails are pre-populated with a standard message. You can edit these messages individually at the time you accept or decline the appointment.
Note: In the next section, you'll see how you can create a custom message that will pre-populate these emails.
Once you have selected to decline or accept, the appointment will either be removed or placed on your calendar.
Editing appointment email confirmations/declines
To customize the standard email messages:
- Here you can customize the message for each type of email. To offer more personalization, you can use the macros provided in the drop-down menus.
Note: A macro is a placeholder in the body of the email message that will dynamically pull information from your account. For more information on macros see What are macros and how do I use them?
Important: Email is not a secure form of communication and these email messages to clients are not 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 you use this feature appropriately based on your practice's HIPAA security requirements.
Important details to know
If an existing clients needs guidance logging into your Client Portal, see Assisting clients with Instant Sign In for the Client Portal.
- When accepting an appointment request, you have the option to send the intake documents to the client, even when it's an existing client.