Something that might be helpful is having a break automatically scheduled into your appointments—maybe it's time that you need to do paperwork, grab a coffee, or just relax before your next patient comes in.
With the way that Cliniko's appointments are designed, they can technically be booked one after the other. For example, if you offer hour-long appointments, you could have a patient book for 9 a.m., and then 10 a.m., and 11 a.m., and so forth. Having consecutive appointments with no break in between could be problematic, because you might need some down time in between patients but, if your appointments are stacked on top of one another, getting that down time might be hard!
With a little bit of creativity, you can incorporate break time (also called "padding" or "gaps") into your appointments so that you automatically have some "me time" before your next patient comes in. What you'll want to do is make your appointment types be longer than necessary, so that the break is incorporated into the full duration of the appointment (the patient won't necessarily know the difference, though!).
In this guide, we'll walk you through how to set this up. Please note, however, that this is a workaround solution, as Cliniko currently doesn't offer an "official" way to include breaks after appointments. When and if this changes, we'll certainly let you know!
Include breaks after the end of your appointments
First things first, you'll want to edit the appointment types that should include breaks (or create the appointment types, if you haven't already). Head to Settings, and then Appointment types:
For the sake of this article, we'll pretend that we're creating a new one, but the same process will apply if you're editing an existing appointment type. We're also going to pretend that we are offering a 30-minute appointment and having a 15-minute break afterwards, but yours is probably going to be different! The goal of this guide is to give you the information you need to set this up according to your own preferences.
Okay—here goes! Once you're in the appointment type settings, the very first thing you'll want to do is check out the "duration in minutes" field. For our example appointment, even though we're only going to be seeing the patient for 30 minutes, we're going to set our duration to 45 minutes:
Next, you're going to want to scroll up a bit and make sure that the name of the appointment clearly indicates how long you'll be seeing the patient for—in the example below, we've included "30-minute" in the name, and also in the description:
☝️Note: It's not required to include the duration in the appointment name, nor do you need to include a description, but it may help to make it clear how long the appointment is in the name, especially if you use online bookings and are going to hide the duration (which is recommended if you're adding a break to the total length of your appointment types).
Once you've named your appointment type and set the duration, save the settings. Now, when a patient books this appointment type, it will get booked into the calendar for longer than you'll actually be seeing them—giving you that extra time before your next patient!
You can repeat this process for all appointment types that you wish to incorporate a break into.
A few things to keep in mind
If you're using online bookings, we recommend that you hide the duration of the appointment. If you don't hide the duration, then the patient may get confused, especially if you've named the appointment something like "30-minute appointment". They would see the duration as being 45 minutes, which could result in some questions.
The full duration of the appointment will still show up in the .ics calendar attachment file that's included in confirmation emails, but as long as you name the appointment with the "patient-facing duration" (i.e. "30-minute appointment", even if it's technically 45 minutes), that should help to mitigate confusion.
The "break" that you add is a global setting, and will apply to all appointments booked under this appointment type. If you want some appointments to have breaks, but not others, you will need to amend the settings of each different appointment type to accommodate this.
If you have further questions on adding breaks into your appointments, our support team can definitely help! Just use the "chat" button in the lower-right corner to reach out to us.