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Enabling online appointment requests

Enabling online appointment requests

The online appointment requests feature is integrated with your Availability calendar, 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 subscription plan options, please 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:

  • Navigate to Settings > Client Portal
  • Click the Client Portal toggle to switch it on

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  • Click Save Settings

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 > Client Portal
  • You'll see a recommended web address based on your practice name and available URLs
  • If you want to change your Client Portal URL, click change your domain

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  • Enter your desired URL, and click Save & Lock

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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.

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

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Note: We recommend locking your Client Portal URL before inviting clients to the Client Portal. To learn more about sending Client Portal invitations, see: Inviting clients to the Client Portal.


Customizing your Client Portal

Practice name

The header of your Client Portal is pulled from the Practice Name at Settings > My Practice > Details. practicename.simplepractice.mypractice.png

Office location

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

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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:

  • Navigate to Settings > Client Portal.
  • Click the toggle to turn Online appointment requests on. This opens more options where you can customize your online appointment requests settings. After selecting your preferences, click Save Settings.

Here, you’ll be able to choose how clients can book appointments: 

  • According to service duration: This selection has some flexibility to it. 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 time before or after the appointment, which will change the overall service duration (e.g., 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 full hour. For example, if your Availability block starts at 11 AM, they will see 11 AM, 12 PM, 1 PM, and so on. However, if your Availability block starts at 11:30 AM, they will see the first available session at 12 PM. 
  • On the half hour: Clients will see available appointment times on every half hour. For example, if your Availability block starts at 9 AM, they will see 9 AM, 9:30 AM, 10 AM, 10:30 AM, and so on.
  • On the quarter hour: Clients will see available appointment times on every quarter hour. For example, if your Availability block starts at 12 PM, they will 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 According to service duration. This is also the recommended setup if you have multiple services of different duration length. You can learn more about scheduling hour-long appointments starting on the half hour here: Managing your Availability.

Other options on this page include:  

  • Allowing new clients to request appointments online, selecting if you'd like to require a credit card to book, setting how far in advance your clients can book, and setting the time limit for booking appointments online before clients must Call-to-Request.
  • 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 Save Settings. 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 Client Portal settings to permit online appointment requests:

  • Navigate to each client's Overview page
  • Click Edit
  • Select the Client Portal tab
  • Check the box for Self-schedule appointments
  • Click Save Features

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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:

  • Navigate to Settings > Client Portal
  • Click Manage availability

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

  • Enter a title for your Availability block
  • Set a start date for this Availability, as well as the start time(s) and end time(s)
  • Select whether you’d like this Availability to repeat 
    • Specify how often you’d like this Availability 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 to apply to

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

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  • Click Add service to choose which services you’d like to make available to clients during this Availability block
    • To add an active code, select an individual code from the dropdown list or click Add all services
    • To add a new code or create a custom code, click Create new service, enter the service details, and click Create

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

  • When you're finished, click Save and Continue
  • You can preview your Availability blocks on your calendar or in your Client Portal, or click Done to close the Availability setup tool

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

Designating a service code for online appointment requests

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

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  • 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: 

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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 > Client Portal
  • Select Yes under Can new clients request appointments?
  • Check the box next to each client type that you're currently accepting:
    • New individual clients,
    • New couple clients, and/or
    • Contacts booking on behalf of someone else (such as a guardian requesting an appointment for a minor)

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This will determine which appointment request form displays on your Appointment-request 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 always have the option to accept or decline their request.

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 > Can new clients request appointments? and check the box for Yes under Is credit card required for new clients? Now, new clients will be prompted to add a credit card. If you haven’t set up your Online Payments account, you’ll be prompted with information about our Online Payments feature to setup a new account. You won’t be able to request a credit card without an Online Payments account.

Note: You can learn more about Online Payments here: Getting started with Online Payments in SimplePractice.

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 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 they were added to your account.


Setting up existing clients for online appointment requests

You'll need to grant your existing clients Client Portal access so they can schedule through your link. To do this:

  • Navigate to your client's Overview page
  • Click Edit
  • Select the Client Portal tab
  • Click Send Email 

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Your client will receive an email containing with a link to the Client Portal. They can click Sign In to be logged into their Client Portal.

Note: These sign-in links expire after 24 hours and can only be used once. If your client clicks an expired link, they can enter their email address and request a new link. You can learn more about the Client Portal login process here: Assisting clients with signing into the Client Portal.


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 by going to Settings > Client Portal.
  • Highlight your domain and copy the link so that you can paste it wherever you need.
  • When a new client navigates to your practice Client Portal, they'll need to click I'm a 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.

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  • Enter the client's name, email, and any other information you have, then click Create. An email address is required to be able to send the client a Client Portal invitation email. 

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  • Select the documents you want to share and edit the default Welcome email as needed. Click Share & Send Now to send the Welcome email. 

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  • Your client will receive an email prompting them to sign into their Client Portal, where they can request their first appointment. The appointment request will appear on your Calendar homepage for you to Accept or Decline

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  • Once you've approved your client's appointment request, you'll be given the option to send additional documents and customize the notification email.

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.

First, you’ll want to set up a new service code for phone screening:

  • Navigate to Settings > Billing & Services > Services
  • Click Add New 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 Available for online appointment requests and Allow for New Clients

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  • Click Save

Note: You can refer to 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 your Calendar homepage
  • Click Availability in the top right corner
  • Select an existing Availability block to edit, or click anywhere on the calendar to add a new Availability block
  • Adjust the settings as needed
  • Under Service(s), click Add service and select the new initial consultation service that was just created

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  • Click Save

Tip: For detailed steps on creating this phone screening service, you can refer to our on-demand video: How to set up a Phone Screening Service for Prospective Clients.


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

A new client 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 need to confirm the appointment.

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


Viewing appointment requests

When a client requests an appointment, you'll receive an email alert and a notification at the top navigation bar of your account under Requests. To view your appointment requests:

  • Click Requests in the top navigation bar
  • Choose Accept or Decline for each appointment request

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  • If you’re an administrator in a group practice, you can view appointment requests for your entire practice or your requests only
    • To view your requests only, toggle this option on in the Appointment Requests flyout

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Note: You'll be able to visually distinguish Pending appointments on your calendar.pending.simplepractice.calendar.png


Confirming and declining appointment requests

To accept an appointment request:

  • Click Requests in the top navigation bar
  • Choose Accept

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Once you accept an appointment request, a window will appear where you can select the documents you'd like to send to the client and customize the confirmation email.

To decline an appointment request:

  • Click Requests in the top navigation bar
  • Choose Decline

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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 will 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 navigating to your Clients list, sorting by Inactive Clients, and clicking Manage > Make active next to the client's name.

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

When declining an appointment request, you’ll be asked to select the reason you’re declining, with the option to leave a comment. These answers are for our Product team to analyze for further enhancements. If you’d like to include these answers in your Appointment Decline email, see: Editing appointment confirmation/decline emails.

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Note: The reason for declining and the comment won’t automatically be shared with the client.

Before clicking Decline & Send Now, you can edit the email as needed.


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 Portal > Emails
  • Scroll down to Appointment Confirmation
  • Click Edit

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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
  • Video Appointment Confirmation with Documents

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

  • Navigate to Settings > Client Portal > Emails
  • Scroll down to Appointment Declined (New Client) or Appointment Declined (Existing Client)
  • Click 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 drop-down menu and select:
    • Appointment Decline Reason
    • Appointment Decline Note

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  • Click Save

Note: For detailed information on using macros, see: What are macros and how do I use them? 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: Email isn’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.


Important details to know

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