Do I have to opt-in or out to use these features? Where do I sign up?

You don’t need to do anything 😊. The Self-Book option will automatically appear on your ‘compose SMS’ screen, and within Batch Messaging, for all practices. This is because the licence fee for these features has been covered by NHS England. You will need to ensure you can cover SMS fragment costs for these features, whether that’s directly via your practice, or via your ICB or local federation.

I use the Self-Book feature within SystmOne. What is different about yours?

Accurx’s Self-Book feature is super user-friendly and adaptable, giving you the most flexibility when it comes to appointment slot types. There’s no login necessary for patients, meaning it’s quick and easy for them to book in. It also works really well with other Accurx features used by primary care organisations, including Floreys and appointment reminders.

Can patients select which GP/clinician they would like to see? Can we invite patients to book an appointment with a specific GP/nurse/clinician?

Patients can currently only choose the appointment type. This is something we are looking into amending in the future. Practices can set up additional appointment slot types if they wish to invite patients to visit a specific clinician.

A workaround for this would be to set up a slot type for each clinician. For example, create a slot type for ‘Face-to-Face consultation with Dr Example’ and add this slot type into Dr Example's sessions.

How does the integration work? Do I need to set up new appointment slot types for the integration to work?

Our integration with EMIS and SystmOne means we can see existing active appointments. If you have your appointment slots already set up, all you need to do is select your preferred slot type from the list and your patients will be able to book directly into your clinical appointment book. You’ll just need to ensure that you have some available slots for the next three weeks.

Can I invite patients for a combined appointment e.g. COVID-19 and flu vaccinations together?

Yes! You just need to set up an appointment slot type for a joint COVID-19 and flu vaccination.

How do I set up the new slot types?

We have created some short user guides on how to set up new slot types in EMIS and SystmOne. Please click one to find out how to do this for your relevant clinical system! ☝️

I’ve just created a new slot type, why can’t I see it in the dropdown?

It will take roughly an hour for new slot types to appear in the self-book drop-down. (It also must be added to the appointment book within the next 3 weeks). You may also need to restart your toolbar to see the changes.

Can we schedule the date and time when we send these self-booking links?

No, sadly this isn’t available at the moment. However, our user researching team would be very interested in when you’d like to do this and how helpful this would be. Please fill out this form in as much detail as possible! 😊

How long do the booking links last?

The booking links sent to patients will expire after 48 hours. There is potential for this to be extended, should the need arise.

How far in advance can I invite a patient to book an appointment? Can I reduce/extend this?

You can currently show appointment availability up to three weeks in advance. We know that some practices would prefer less/more than this, and we’re looking into whether we can amend this. We find that three weeks is the optimal time to encourage appointment bookings while keeping DNAs to a minimum.

Can I invite patients to book across different practices? Do the Booking Module features work on SystmOne hub units or PCN-wide clinics?

The Booking Module features currently don’t support hub-style working. This is something we are looking to support in the near future. Watch this space 👀 .

Can patients cancel their appointment via the same link? Can they decline the invite?

Patients will not be able to decline or cancel self-book appointments. If a patient wishes to decline, or cancel, they will need to call the practice directly. This is something we are looking to support in the near future. Watch this space 👀 . At the moment, your patient will only get the opportunity to cancel the appointment through an appointment reminder (if the practice has appointment reminders set up for that slot type).

Can I upload a list of patients to book into a specific appointment slot type?

Yes! You can do this using our Batch Self-Book feature. This works a lot like accuBook for COVID-19 vaccination clinics, except it integrates with your clinical appointment book and can be used for any appointment type.

Can I offer more than one appointment slot type e.g. a face-to-face or telephone option?

At the moment, you can only offer one appointment slot type.

Can I use Self-Book and Batch Self-Book for appointments other than flu vaccinations?

Yes, you can use it for other appointments! This functionality was built to support vaccination programmes, but it’s super flexible and can be used for other things too. The only thing to bear in mind is that the SMS costs for these use cases would need to be covered by your practice, local Federation or ICB. This includes those wanting to use it for Polio vaccinations this year.

Are there any measures in place to prevent patients booking into an inappropriate appointment slot?

Yes! Patients will only be able to book into appointment slots that the practice has chosen to show them. You will choose the specific appointment type before sending a booking link, for example, a COVID-19 booster appointment, or a smear test.

Can appointment availability be restricted to a certain time period, for example, only one week of appointments showing as available?

Yes! If you embargo the appointments for that time period, they won’t appear as available to your patients. Appointment slots will only show through the Self-Book link once you mark them as available in your clinical system.

How many texts does it take to send a self-book link? Cost-wise is this one or more fragments of SMS costs?

Our Self-Book links are currently set to a maximum of two SMS fragments.

Can you pre-set the message that goes along with the booking link, rather than typing it in every time? Can I set up new templates for Self-Book and Batch Self-Book messages?

You can use your existing SMS templates, or make new ones, for individual Self-Book messages. This also means you can add a Snomed code to these texts. For Batch Self-Book, we will provide some Accurx recommended templates, which will include messages for flu, polio and COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

Do these appointments go towards online booking targets?

At the moment, Self-Book appointments won’t go towards online booking targets. Accurx continues to work with NHS England on how this might work in the future.

Can you identify which appointment links were not used? Can you see when they have expired?

You can see which booking links expired in your 'sent' folder in the inbox. This may look different in Batch Self-Book, and we’ll keep you updated on this.

Does this require new slot types that are only reserved for Accurx? Do we need to flag visibility of slot types in EMIS/S1?

This is not required. You can use the appointment slots you have already within your clinical system. And you can make more slot types if you’d like as well!

Can you post-date the invites, so say a patient needs an appointment in 2 weeks can we send it now so they get sent the link in 2 weeks?

This feature isn’t currently available, but it’s on our roadmap for the future. 🚀

Can I access Self-Book and Batch Self-Book in Wales or Northern Ireland?

GP practices in Wales and Northern Ireland can use our Booking Module if they use EMIS. Please contact us if you’d like to find out more about using the Booking Module in Wales or Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, we don’t currently integrate with Vision.

Can I send the patient multiple booking links?

Yes, but you’ll have to send them in separate messages.

How will we know if a patient has booked an appointment?

There will be a status for the link in the message thread.

Do patients get a confirmation message once they’ve booked an appointment?

Yes, they’ll get a confirmation message with the appointment time, date and location.

If we have Accurx’s appointment reminders product, will an appointment reminder still be sent to a patient who has booked in via self-book?

Yes, as long as you have the slot type set up in appointment reminders for the slot type they are booked into.

Can I cancel a link that I have sent?

Unfortunately, this is not possible at the moment. However, if you open the link and input the wrong date of birth 15 times this will disable the link! We would also recommend messaging the patient to let them know the link is now invalid.

Can I send a self-book link on the same day that I want the patient to book an appointment?

No, same-day appointments are not currently supported by self-book links. More specifically we will not show patients any appointments within 24 hours from sending a link.

If I send out a self-book link on Saturday or Sunday when will the patient receive their link?

If you are sending a booking link outside of practice hours the message will default to send from 8 am the next working day.

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