6 essentials for an online clinic diary

The concept of a clinic diary is something not everyone understands.

It might seem odd to people whose work is calendar led, whose day is full of appointments, but there are other people who never use calendars at work. They work on a job and then another one and only occasionally make an appointment with a client. They have no idea what you need from a calendar if you work to a day full of bookings. Software designers often fall into this category. I actually can’t find a realistic photo of a clinic diary on Shutterstock; they all have only 1 or 2 appointments in a day – hardly enough to keep you in business.

There are many online calendars and diaries out there and/or sometimes a calendar comes as part of a website package, but – is it going to fulfil your needs? Should you get one designed for you?  Why would a practice management software be different?

6 Key pointers.

Essential Checks:

  1. Security – encryption: your data must be held securely, and (currently) held within the EU.
  2. It needs to be easy to use, easy to see when you work and when you don’t.
  3. You want to be able to find a free appointment easily, and search for an existing booking using the customer’s name.
  4. Your receptionist service need access to the full diary, including the back end, so they can look up a client if they need to cancel an appointment. Is this included? If there is a fee how much
  5. Do you pay a monthly fee or purchase the software licence. If it’s a purchase do you get upgrades, support, do you have to pay for that too?
  6. You need to be able to log several people at the same time, can you? Is it Free? If not how much? Some of these are admin people, can you vary the permissions?

Nice to have:

  • Embedded into your website so customers can book and cancel.
  • Online payment link?
  • Is there an audit trail, can you see who booked what?
  • Can you list appointment types so that e.g. you can choose a new client appointment and the software allows a longer appointment duration?
  • Does it update you with a text or email when there is a booking or cancellation?
  • Does it send an appointment confirmation and/or reminder to clients?
  • Clinical notes – especially useful if you might see clients at more than one location.

This may seem like a lot to consider. Some diary vendors are seasoned veterans and you can use their experience to help you choose. Remember you can usually take a free trial, or if you are getting it written for you, you should be able to have it personalised to your needs, but you will need to be clear what those needs are. Bear in mind that longstanding appointment booking software will have been tried and tested by many colleagues.