The Appointment Book is generally the most integral part of any PMS. It’s where the whole consultation process begins and finishes and is central to most staff members’ day to day activities. VETLINKSQL’s appointment book has been designed with each type of staff member’s role in mind, from Receptionist to Veterinarian, to provide a fast, easy to understand, and efficient system while tracking important information about the client throughout the process.
The Appointment Book in VETLINKSQL is fully configurable
for Layout, Look N Feel, and Functionality. Users can set up multiple appointment books of different types depending on the final purpose. Each book has a full calendar so you can quickly navigate to a day in the future, and also look up past appointments. Using a specially designed “Holding tank”, appointments can be easily dragged between different days and books. Appointments can be made for a client with one animal or multiple animals using the linked appointment feature. The linked appointment feature allows one bill to be produced with items grouped by animal. Reception staff can also admit and take weights of animals ready for the Vets to begin the consult.
Appointment Book Types
Consult Room Diary
The Consult Room Diary enables appointments to be booked to a Consult Room instead of a particular Staff member. When consultation is started, the user is asked to select the Staff Member performing the consultation, and the appointment is copied across to the Staff Column as well. Appointment times can be quickly adjusted and moved directly from the appointment book using your mouse.
Staff Based Diary
The Staff Based Diary allows appointments to be booked directly to a staff member at a specific time of day. Appointment times can be quickly adjusted and moved directly from the appointment book using your mouse.
Hospital / Rollover Diary
The Hospital / Rollover diary is a list based diary that does not require a time for a booking. At the close of each day appointments that have not been finished are rolled over to the next day. This format can also be used to create lists for various other purposes such as Waiting Lists, Debtor Chase-up Lists and call-back lsists.
Surgery / List Diary
The surgery / list diary is a list diary that does not require times for booking. Appointments stay on the day they were added. This format can also be used for various purposes to create lists for a day.
Equipment / Room Diary
This is three dimensional of sorts. The Equipment / Room Diary allows appointments to be booked directly to a staff member at a specific time of day and a “resource” allocated. Users can choose from a configured list if resources to book out a piece of equipment or room. Appointment times can be quickly adjusted and moved directly from the appointment book using your mouse. This feature is useful when equipment or other resources are not allowed to be double-booked. Examples may include Dental Equipment/Rooms, Ultrasound Scanners, etc.
The Arrivals diary is specifically designed for the Vet in the consulting room. This split screen will list the animals that are due today in the top half of the screen and the animals that have been marked as “arrived” by reception in the bottom half of the screen. A timer will also show the length of time they have been waiting. This will instantly notify the Vet that a patient has arrived and they can begin the consult from this screen as well.
Visual icons are a lot easier to spot. On diary appointments and in the billing window, icons provide information to the user about the client. They may identify the customers as a new client, how old outstanding balances are, sales and client groups or if they can be charged to account. VETLINKSQL can automatically record no-shows, and an icon will indicate specific information relating to past no-show history. There are other icons such as manually-allocated coloured “flags”, special auto-sales-calculated VIP coloured “coins” and happy faces to indicate a booking with a requested staff member.
Most Appointment Books tend to show the standard month by month grid to select a future page/date. Considerable resources were allocated to develop a different type of day picker in VETLINKSQL. The custom designed drop-down calendar in VETLINKSQL is a combination of Month, Day and Week. This view allows a user to select a day that suits the client from the top column and then navigate down by the number of weeks, with the month also visible on the left pane. We believe this design supersedes the standard in-built windows components that most systems use.
As a consultation is processed through the system, the colour of the appointment changes to inform the user as to it’s progress. When an appointment is first booked it is coloured white to indicate it is still due. If an SMS appointment confirmation is sent and the customer replies with anything but “Y” or “Yes” the appointment turns orange to let the user know there is an SMS reply. If the SMS reply to the appointment confirmation message is “Y” then the appointment turns purple. The appointment can be manually confirmed as well if they were phoned or emailed. When the patient arrives at the clinic, the appointment turns yellow to indicate they are waiting. Once the Vet begins the consultation it turns red to show it is in progress. After the vet has finished adding items to the bill he/she can release the bill, at which point it turns green turns green to let reception know they can take payment. Finally once payment has been taken the appointment will turn blue to complete the process.
Reasons for appointments can be added by the user to create a custom list. These reasons can then be assigned to a specific branch. This way an Equine clinic does not see the Small Animal reason and so on. Each reason can be configured with a default time duration and a coloured border can be added for quick identification on-screen. The diary reason can then also be linked to a service (or a Complex Surgery Procedure with multiple items), which will be automatically populated the bill when the consult begins.
From the appointment book a number of forms can be printed quickly when the client arrives. These are fully mail-merged and can be customised to suit each clinic’s individual requirement. These include New Client Forms, Address Confirmation Forms, Consent Forms, Discharge Forms, Admission Forms and so on. Of course, a more "green" and better way to use forms is to use the e-Forms App
- the forms are automatically sent to a Tablet (iPad or Android Tablet) where the client is able to view and sign their acceptance.
Rosters in VETLINKSQL can be pre-programmed to automatically populate the appointment book up to 60 weeks into the future, even though most clinics will set this to 6 to 8 weeks in advance. Rosters can be static where the same roster is used every week, or they can be revolving where two or more rosters may alternate between each other every week or so. Start and End dates allow rosters to start and finish on different days as well. Within each staff members roster you can also enter breaks and allow up to 4 appointments to be booked at once. There are other settings that allow or disallows on a Staff-Day level to “squeeze” multiple appointments into one time slot. This is a powerful part of the Appointment System within VETLINKSQL.
To-Do List (Diary Messaging System)
With the Appointment book being the central part of VETLINKSQL, it has an integrated messaging system. The messaging system (To-Do List) allows you to attach messages to a staff member’s column in the diary. When they view the diary a red thumb tack will appear at the top of their column to indicate they have a message. Once the message is read it will turn yellow until another new message is added. It will disappear once processed as being “Done” or “Cancelled”.
SMS Appointment confirmation
Missed appointments and late arrivals can be a big source of productivity and efficiency loss within the business. It can also affect other on-time clients. Calling each client individually helps to reduce the problem, but this can be expensive in terms of staff resources and actual dollars. VETLINKSQL’s integrated two-way SMS (TXT) messaging system allows a personalised SMS to be sent to all clients on a chosen day with one click of a button. Replies of Yes automatically confirm appointments without any human interration, while any other reply colours the appointment orange to notify staff to check it; the reply can be read on-screen immediately. SMS is a comprehensive feature within VETLINKSQL and it is used in various areas of the application.
SMS Appointment & Messages to Staff
An in-built function allows all appointments and messages to be sent by SMS to the Staff member. This can be useful for large animal Vets or for staff who are on their way to work, or are unable to be located in the meantime. Of course, this feature will soon be superseded with our Mobile App feature.
This feature provides the ability to pre-program recurring appointments into the future even if the Appointment Book has not been planned out that far. Standing appointments can be set to a number of preferences and permutations; some examples are shown below:
- Weekly with weeks to recur on plus the actual day of the week (eg. Every 3 weeks on Friday)
- Day of the Month with a start date to recur on that date every month, or every “x” months
- First, Second, Third, or Fourth week of a month on a particular day
All above options have a start date and an end date, or it can be left to be indefinite. A sophisticated background processor will automatically make these appointments as the Appointment Book is “painted” forward from the Roster on daily basis so there is no chance of a double-booking. If a staff member was selected and that staff member is not working on the scheduled day, a special Clash Management window will guide the user each morning to manage such appointments.
Reporting & Performance Analysis
Special reporting used the Appointment Book data to really focusses on business and staff performance in the areas of productivity and efficiency.
This will add up the hours that a staff member has worked in a selected period; the total revenue divided by this time is referred to as Productivity.
The actual appointment times can also be added up and then revenue from these appointments calculated; this will show Staff Efficiency – this is a great tool to measure how well a staff member is able to “on-sell” more services such as Blood Tests, etc and be compared against other staff and the clinic average.
These figures tend to be used to gauge the level of training that staff may require to up their revenue in different areas of the business. All figures are broken up in more detail with analysis on Services, Retail Only, Retail with Services, and then further analysis to show revenue from New Clients, Regular Clients, and so on.
Live Online Appointments
An optional cloud based feature called Online Booking
allows authenticated users to query the Appointment Book and make appointments online via a secure connection. The user is unable to see the Appointment Book but free slots are shown when a date and day period is selected much the same way that one would book an airline seat. More detailed information on Online Booking can be found here