Communications can now be in your patients' local time zone!

:point_up:Important! If you see patients in other time zones, please read below!

As of today, your patients can receive appointment-related communications in their time zone, and you can record their local time zone right in their details. Outgoing messages (such as reminders and confirmation emails) can have “time zone” placeholders—basically, this means that your patient will see their appointment as booked in their local time!

This is the first step in a larger change that involves patients being able to book appointments in their local time when making a booking through your online bookings page. :tada: (This isn’t live yet—it will be released soon. We’re letting you know about it beforehand, though, because if you service patients outside of your local time zone, there may be some things you’ll want to do to prepare.)

So, what’s this change about?

As you probably know, when a patient books an appointment, it has historically been booked in your clinic’s time zone. This is fine if your patients happen to be in your time zone, but not so great if you’re offering telehealth appointments to patients that live elsewhere (or perhaps your clinic is situated on a border town, and the folks that live two streets over are an hour ahead of you).

We know that some of you are currently using workarounds for dealing with multiple time zones—such as making note of the time zone difference in your appointment confirmations and reminders or including this in the extra information on the bookings page. The new change today, and the upcoming change to online bookings, mean that you will probably want to remove those workarounds.

What exactly is happening?

There are three main changes (two of which are currently live):

  • The patient details in Cliniko now can include the patients’ time zone.
  • You can now (and should, if you service patients in other time zones) change any time placeholders with the new placeholders that include time zone information (typically in your appointment confirmations and reminders).
  • Soon, but not yet released, patients will see availability in their time zone when they’re making an online booking.

We’ll walk through each of these below!

Patients’ time zones are included in their details.

Right now, a patient’s time zone can be viewed (and edited) within their details:

Any appointment reminders and confirmation emails will be sent using the patient’s time zone, so they’ll see their booking in their local time, even if it’s different from yours.

Time zone placeholders can be used in outgoing communications.

The new placeholders can be found in your confirmation and reminder templates, and look like this:

When added to your templates, they will appear like this:

:point_up:Note: Even if you choose to not use the new placeholders, including the time zone, the times will still be shown in the patients’ local time zone. The placeholder simply adds more information to be specific and clear.

Online bookings will display in the patient’s time zone (coming soon).

Each patient will see available appointments in their own time zone (which is based on the time zone their device is set to). No longer will patients need to calculate the time difference between a 10am appointment (your time) and what that equates to where they live!

:point_up:Note: With this change, restricting the number of appointments shown per time slot can have odd results for patients in other time zones. We strongly recommend that you set the “Max appointments per day segment” to “Unlimited” if you service patients in other time zones—the reason for this is because with different time zones at play, the definitions of morning, afternoon, and evening become a bit arbitrary. (The patient’s morning, for example, might not be your morning!)

Does this affect the calendar that I see in Cliniko?

Nope! All appointments, regardless of the patient’s time zone, will be booked into your calendar under your clinic’s time zone. So, for example, if the patient’s appointment is at 10am their time, but noon your time, you will see that appointment in the 12pm slot.

If you have patients outside of your local time zone, this is a summary of the actions you’ll probably want to take:

  1. Update the placeholders in your confirmations and reminders.
  2. Set the “Max appointments per day segment” to “Unlimited”.
  3. Get ready to remove any custom text from your online bookings page, as it will no longer be needed when the final part of this change goes live.

For detailed information on the steps you can take to prepare for this change, head to our support site. In the meantime, if you have any questions, our support team can definitely help out!

Once the online bookings part of this change has gone live (so, when your patients can book their own appointments in their time zones through online bookings), we’ll certainly let you know!