How do we make web-based scheduling available to patients?
November 26, 2008 10:31 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a way to allow people to schedule their vet appointments via the web.

My friend is setting up an animal acupressure business out of her home. While she is like Dr. Doolittle when it comes to animals, she's like John McCain when it comes to HTML.

We want to set up a pretty basic web site for her: main page, FAQs page, maybe a page with how-to-get-here directions... however,

here's the gist of the question:

She would like to have a page with a calendar so that people can see appointment availability and also make appointments via that same page (that is, say a client sees there's an opening from 2pm to 6pm on Tuesday, so they click on something and then are able to make an appointment from 2–3pm). The calendar could show a month or a week at a time, but would need to have a "next week/month" and "previous week/month" so people could schedule weeks/months in advance.

Once clients filled out the "schedule appointment" form
(which would ask for [day/time], name, phone number, email address)
and clicked submit, the schedule calendar would be updated so that that block of time would no longer be shown as available for other people to make appointments.

If it matters. there are only two durations of appointments that would be needed: 90 minutes for new clients, and 60 minutes for previous clients. It would be nice if she could somehow tell the scheduling software that after a 90-minute session, she'll need 30 minutes to take care of all of her notes (so she would be unavailable for other appointments), but maybe that's too intricate and she'll just have to book 2-hour slots and then tell the people that it'll actually only be 90 minutes in-office.

Finally, there are two forms that new clients need to fax in before their appointment (an intake form about their animals various info, and a form that just needs the signature of their veterinarian). I was thinking that it would be good to have an automatic confirmation email go out right after the person makes their appointment—the email would say hello, list their appointment date and time, and include a reminder about the need to fax in the two documents.

Is there some sort of web plug-in or something out there that can do this calendar-scheduling this for her?

Right now she has no web page, so if your suggestion requires something specific ("...Such-And-Such requires that your web host be running Apache v4.3 with the retro-encabulator and prefamulated ammulite..."), please let me know so we can choose the proper hosting place.

Also, she's on a Mac, so if you happen to know of any WYSIWYG web page builders out there that would allow her to easily set up something like this on her own, please throw those suggestions my way too.

So just to recap: web-based calendar/scheduling program that she can embed in a page and doesn't need to touch or fiddle with—just look at to see her schedule.

Thanks in advance!
posted by blueberry to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My massage therapist uses Genbook. I know it can accommodate different appointment lengths but I'm not sure about the customized email. She just has to add a book now button to her contact page and it takes care of the rest.
posted by stefanie at 10:58 PM on November 26, 2008

Blueberry, your best chance is going to be to either:
  • find a web developer who's willing to work with her and who understands her needs,
  • find a company that provides a service like a clinic management system that she can buy for the mac that comes with an online module for scheduling,
  • find a hosted service like genbook and tweak or tune it to your needs.

As it is, I don't think that there'd be anything you can just drop in place that'd work across all servers, web browsers, and platforms. Just like the simple activities in an animal's life (say, eating) depend on the frighteningly complex neurological and biological mechanisms of digestion underneath (which in turn depend on things like the nitrogen cycle), an activity on the web (i.e. make an appointment and send an email) depends on a bunch of underlying technical activities that are supported by various dependencies on the web server.
posted by SpecialK at 11:25 PM on November 26, 2008

Best answer:

Similar to genbook, but I can't use genbook as it doesn't work in Australia. There are other, more feature rich alternatives out there also, but genbook & Clickbook are both free.

I had a play with this a few months ago (see question here) but it was missing some key features that that meant it wasnt worthwhile for me to bother using it (it didn't do recurring appointments, but I believe this has now been added).

Clickbook allows you to set buffer times in between appointments so your friend will be able to block out half an hour (or however long she likes) from her available schedule after each booking. I think this is a pretty standard feature in all the online scheduling software.

Clickbook will give her a url for her calendar like so she doesn't need her own website.

The developer is very open to user requests, bug fixes, etc. I'm not sure if it has the capacity to automatically email intake forms; I'm guessing no after a quick browse, but you or your friend could ask about it in the user forum and the developer will let you know if it's a possible future inclusion.

(If I take another look, I think I will be asking the developer for more information regarding security, as per my askme.)
posted by goshling at 11:52 PM on November 26, 2008

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