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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 to present appointments that clients can request. All new appointment requests will need to be either approved or declined by you. 

Note: Clients can only request appointments online if your account is on the Essential or Plus plan. See our Pricing page to learn more about our subscription plan options. 

In this guide, we'll cover: 


Turning on the 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

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 or Domain. This is the link that clients will click to see your available times 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

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  • Enter your desired URL, and click Save & Lock

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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 submit a help request to our team.

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  • After locking the URL, click View Link to preview your Client Portal and what it will look like to your clients

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Note: We recommend locking your Client Portal URL before you invite 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. You can customize it to be anything you like.

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Office location

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

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Note: You can decide whether you want to hide or display your exact address from prospective clients here.


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 to 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 sessions 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 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 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 sessions available 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 sessions available 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 sessions, we recommend allowing clients to book appointments 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 sessions starting on the half hour here: 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.
  • 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 what works best for you.

Important: 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.

To update each client's settings to allow for booking online:

  • 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 establish your Availability. To get started:

  • Navigate to Settings > Client Portal
  • Click Manage availability

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Note: If you already have active future Availability blocks set up, clicking Manage availability will take you to your Calendar homepage > Availability, where you can edit and 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. See Adding office locations to learn more.

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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. For more information, 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 here, 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 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

NoteFor 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 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 instant-sign 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 sign-in 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 Done

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 clicks your Client Portal web address link, they'll be taken to your Client Portal. Here, they will indicate if 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 immediately be presented with the option to schedule a session with you based on your Availability

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Once a new client chooses a time, they'll be prompted to provide information to complete their request.

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Once they click Request Appointment, they'll see a confirmation page that allows them to add the appointment to their personal calendar and lets them know 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.


Confirming and declining appointment requests

After a client requests an appointment, you'll receive an email alert and the request will appear in your SimplePractice account. To view requests:

  • Click Requests at the top of your Calendar homepage.
  • Choose Accept or Decline for each appointment request.

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  • If you’re 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.pendingappointment.simplepractice.calendarhomepage.png

  • If you Accept an appointment request, a window will appear where you can select any documents you'd like share and customize the confirmation email to the client.
  • If you Decline an appointment request, an Inactive profile will be automatically created for the client.
    • If you intend to see the client at a later date, you can set the client 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.
  • Once an appointment request has been accepted or decline, it will appear on your calendar as a scheduled appointment or removed.

Appointment confirmation and decline emails will be pre-populated with a message that you can edit at the time you accept or decline the appointment.


Editing appointment confirmation/decline emails

To customize the content of the appointment confirmation and decline emails on a practice-wide level:

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  • Here, you can begin customizing emails by clicking Edit next to each email type
    • To offer more personalization, you can add macros, or computer shortcuts that populate information from your account, from the dropdown menus

Note: To learn more about the different email templates included your account, and when each type of email is sent, see: When are different email templates sent to clients?

Important: Email is not a secure form of communication and these emails 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 that you use this feature appropriately based on your practice's HIPAA security requirements.


Important details to know

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