Booked slots are a way to assign PATCHS requests to specific users for them to deal with on a future date. This can help spread demand and match it to your staff capacity. It combines the advantages of an appointment book, with the flexibility of an inbox to prioritise and respond to patients as you see fit.
There are three main parts to booked slots:
- Setting up booked slots at your practice
- Assigning requests to a particular date
- Managing booked slots in your inbox
Setting up booked slots at your practice
Only PATCHS admins can set up booked slots. To do this, go to the 'Feature settings' tab on the 'Edit practice' page, and tick 'Enable booked slots' under 'Booked slots settings'.
You will then see the following warning.
If you click 'Yes', you will then see a new 'Booked slots' tab has been created. Here you can view and set optional limits for requests that each staff member should be assigned on future days. You can scroll forwards and backwards using the arrows or calendar icons.
Click a box in the table to set limits for pre-bookable (can be booked in future) and on the day slots (those reserved for urgent requests).
Use the copy icon to duplicate set limits across all staff.
You must click Submit to save your changes.
Assigning requests to a particular date
When assigning a request to a user, you will now see an additional field where you can choose a future date. You should select the date first to see who is available.
When you do this you can see how many pre-bookable slots they have available on that day.
After clicking the 'Assign to staff member' button, the request will be assigned and the patient will be sent the following email:
Your request submitted on date has been scheduled for review by staff_name on review_date.
They will contact you on that date during practice_name's opening hours opening_hours either by:
- Secure message - please keep an eye on your messages page and email inbox (including junk folder).
- Phone - please keep your phone nearby. They may call from a withheld number.
The contact details they have for you are:
- Email - patient_email
- Phone - patient_phone
Click here to update your contact details if they are incorrect.
Please call practice_name on practice_phone if:
- You do not hear from staff_name on review_date, or
- Your symptoms change.
If you need help outside practice_name's opening hours please call 111 or go to 111.nhs.uk.
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The assignment date and details are then visible in the 'Message details' box.
When the future date comes around, user's request limits are increased by the number of slots they have available for on the day requests. When a user's limit is reached (either pre-bookable before the date or pre-bookable plus on the day) you see the following warning when trying to assign further requests.
Managing booked slots in your inbox
With booked slots, your inbox works exactly the same except you have a different 'inbox' for different dates. You can toggle through the days to see which requests are assigned to you in future. There's also an 'All' tab where you can see all requests assigned to you regardless of date.
Important things to note
Any requests that have been assigned to dates in the past and are incomplete will move in to today's inbox. So will any requests that have been assigned to you without a date. If you send a message to a patient with a request assigned to a future date, the request will stay in that future date's inbox when they reply - unless you assign to a different date or remove the request from your inbox.
Can I switch off booked slots?
Yes. PATCHS admins can switch off booked slots at any time on the 'Edit practice' page. If you do this, you will remove any maximum limits for assigning requests to staff members, and collapse the Requests inbox for each staff member into a single inbox.
Assigning urgent and emergency requests
According to the definitions used when making triage decisions:
- If a request is marked as urgent, the patient could be harmed if this request is not resolved within the next 48 hours.
- If a request is marked as an emergency: Patient could be harmed if this is not resolved on the same day.
Therefore, for safety reasons you cannot assign urgent requests beyond 48 hours, and you cannot assign emergency requests to future dates at all. To assign these requests beyond those time limits you must first change the urgency.