Recurring Dispatches

This powerful feature is a glorious benefit for dispatchers: AngelTrack automatically remembers and reschedules appointments that repeat regularly. For example, a dialysis patient that goes for dialysis every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday can be booked just one time, and thereafter AngelTrack will keep the patient appropriately rebooked until cancelled.

Automatic recurrence

In order to avoid the pitfalls inherent in any automatic appointment rescheduler, dispatchers must understand how recurring dispatches work in AngelTrack.


Recurrence Schedule

When a recurring dispatch completes, it is automatically rescheduled according to whatever recurrence schedule is set:

Auto Reschedule UI

That image shows a typical dialysis patient: every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, forever until cancelled. A variety of settings are available, and they can be changed on-the-fly: they do not take effect until the moment the dispatch closes. When that moment arrives, the dispatch's activation date/time is combined with its Recurrence Schedule, in order to calculate the activation date/time of the next appointment.

Here are some examples:

Dispatch Being Closed Recurrence Schedule Next Recurrences
Monday, January 5th Every week, on Mon/Wed/Fri, forever Wednesday, January 7th
Friday, January 9th
Monday, January 12th
Wednesday, January 14th
Friday, January 16th
...forever...
Monday, January 5th Every 2 weeks, on Mon/Wed/Fri, forever Wednesday, January 7th
Friday, January 9th
...skip a week...
Monday, January 19th
Wednesday, January 21st
Friday, January 23rd
...forever...
Monday, January 5th Every month, on day 5, forever Thursday, February 5th
Thursday, March 5th
Sunday, April 5th
...forever...
Monday, January 5th Every weekday, until 3 recurrences Tuesday, January 6th (2 left)
Wednesday, January 7th (1 left)
Thursday, January 8th (0 left)
...stop

Remember that the Recurrence Schedule is not applied until the moment the dispatch closes. Only then is the Recurrence Schedule applied to decide when the next appointment will be.


The Next Dispatch is Based on the Previous Dispatch

This is the part that confuses dispatchers who are new to AngelTrack.

A recurring dispatch reschedules itself the moment it closes. When that happens, the rescheduled dispatch is created using all of the settings from the closed dispatch.

For example, if a dispatcher makes an adjustment to the patient's room number for today's transport, the new room number will also appear in the rescheduled dispatch (and all subsequent reschedules). If the destination changes, say from Main Street Dialysis Center to Davita Dialysis, then that change will also appear in future dispatches.

That is where dispatchers sometimes make a mistake. Suppose a dialysis patient has the following recurring dispatch booked:

Date Origin Destination Recurrence Schedule
Monday, January 5th Shady Acres Nursing Home Davita Dialysis Every week, on Mon/Wed/Fri, forever

Her week of transports will therefore look like this:

Date Time Origin Destination
Monday, January 5th
(normal day)
2pm Shady Acres Nursing Home Davita Dialysis
6pm Davita Dialysis Shady Acres Nursing Home
Wednesday, January 7th
(normal day)
2pm Shady Acres Nursing Home Davita Dialysis
6pm Davita Dialysis Shady Acres Nursing Home
Friday, January 9th
(normal day)
2pm Shady Acres Nursing Home Davita Dialysis
6pm Davita Dialysis Shady Acres Nursing Home

So far so good.

Now suppose on Wednesday the dialysis clinic calls and asks for her to be sent directly to an Emergency Room. The dispatcher on duty, in a hurry, alters the dispatch for that day to look like this:

Date Time Origin Destination
Monday, January 5th
(normal day)
2pm Shady Acres Nursing Home Davita Dialysis
6pm Davita Dialysis Shady Acres Nursing Home
Wednesday, January 7th
(crisis)
2pm Shady Acres Nursing Home Davita Dialysis
4:30pm Davita Dialysis Memorial City Hospital ER

The emergency transport goes as planned, and by Friday the patient is ready to resume her normal dialysis routine... but now there is a problem in AngelTrack. Because a rescheduled dispatch is built from the preceding dispatch, Friday's schedule now looks like this:

Date Time Origin Destination
Monday, January 5th
(normal day)
2pm Shady Acres Nursing Home Davita Dialysis
6pm Davita Dialysis Shady Acres Nursing Home
Wednesday, January 7th
(crisis)
2pm Shady Acres Nursing Home Davita Dialysis
4:30pm Davita Dialysis Memorial City Hospital ER
Friday, January 9th
(error!)
2pm Shady Acres Nursing Home Davita Dialysis
4:30pm Davita Dialysis Memorial City Hospital ER

The patient is now inadvertently booked to go back to the ER again on Friday. An alert dispatcher will have to remember what happened on Wednesday and then correct Friday's dispatch, bringing it back to normal (as it was on Monday).

Diverting a recurring dispatch

The correct way to handle the Wednesday situation above, is to use the Divert button.

Divert automatically preserves the normal recurring dispatch by cancelling it (causing it to reschedule normally). Then a separate, independent dispatch is automatically created for the trip from dialysis to the ER. For more details, read the Divert button's help page.

After using Divert, when all is said and done, the dispatch records will rightly look like this:

Date Time Origin Destination
Monday, January 5th
(normal day)
2pm Shady Acres Nursing Home Davita Dialysis
6pm Davita Dialysis Shady Acres Nursing Home
Wednesday, January 7th
(crisis)
2pm Shady Acres Nursing Home Davita Dialysis
6pm Davita Dialysis Shady Acres Nursing Home ← Cancelled, rescheduled for Friday
4:30pm Davita Dialysis Memorial City Hospital ER ← One-time trip, does not recur
Friday, January 9th
(back to normal)
2pm Shady Acres Nursing Home Davita Dialysis
6pm Davita Dialysis Shady Acres Nursing Home

The exceptions on Wednesday were not carried forward to Friday because the recurring call on Wednesday was cancelled.

In that example, we diverted the return trip. If we had diverted the outbound trip, then AngelTrack would automatically cancel/reschedule it and the return trip, preserving the regular schedule.

Dispatch settings that are not carried forward during recurrence

As noted above, all of the prior dispatch's settings are carried forward to the next recurrence except:


Time Exceptions

Often, a regularly recurring appointment has varying pickup times for the return trip. Dialysis patients, for example, have "off times" that can vary by an hour or more. When a variance does occur, we want to make the necessary change in the return-trip's pickup time, but we don't want that change to propagate into future dispatches.

For this situation the Divert button is overkill.

Instead, there is a checkbox named 'Exception'. When the Exception checkbox is checked, changes to the activation time, to the pickup time, and to the dropoff time are not carried forward when the recurring dispatch reschedules itself.

Exceptional pickup times

For example, suppose a dispatcher calls the dialysis center on Wednesday for an off time, and is told that she will be finishing early today. The dispatcher then checks the Exception box and then inputs the earlier pickup time. The schedule now look like this:

Date Time Origin Destination
Monday, January 5th
(closed)
2pm Shady Acres Nursing Home Davita Dialysis
6pm Davita Dialysis Shady Acres Nursing Home
Wednesday, January 7th
(today)
2pm Shady Acres Nursing Home Davita Dialysis
5pm exception Davita Dialysis Shady Acres Nursing Home
Friday, January 9th
(next recurrence)
2pm Shady Acres Nursing Home Davita Dialysis
6pm Davita Dialysis Shady Acres Nursing Home

See how Friday's appointment, rescheduled when the Wednesday appointments closed, has gone back to the normal pickup time? Exactly as it should be.

When viewing the Active Dispatches board, or the schedule, any dispatch with exceptional times will have its pickup and/or dropoff times underlined:

Exceptional pickup times


Dialysis Patients with Different Saturday Chair Times

When a dialysis patient has a Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday schedule, but a different chair time on Saturday, you must book two separate recurring dispatches, like this:

The two recurring dispatches will independently reschedule themselves, maintaining the relevant chair time settings. When the patient no longer requirse transport, you must remember to cancel both.


Reviewing Past Recurrences

It is easy to look back over a recurring dispatch's history. At the top of the Dispatch Edit page, next to the title text "Edit Dispatch", you will find one or two blue triangles, representing forward and backward. Click the triangles to move backward to the previous occurrence or forward to the next occurrence.

Recurrence arrows


Holiday Schedules

Suppose that one of your frequent fliers has a recurring dispatch on a regular schedule, but for the next two weeks will be following a special holiday schedule. During the holiday schedule, the patient's appointments will occur on different days and times than usual... like during the annual Christmas / New Years' scramble:

Holiday recurrence 1

In this situation you can do either of the following:

If you are confident that you (or another dispatcher) will remember to change everything back afterward, then the first option is simplest. The downside is that the workload from the special holiday schedule will not appear on the dispatch calendars until you actually make the changes for the holiday schedule.

If you are not certain that someone will remember to put everything back after the holidays, or if you want to be sure that the holiday schedule workload shows up ahead-of-time in the dispatch calendars, then the second option is better even though it means more work up-front.

Special Recurring Dispatches Just for the Holiday Schedule

To set up special recurring dispatches just for a limited time, then the regular recurring schedule must cease during that time, and then resume again afterward. To do this, configure the recurring dispatch to stop recurring on the last date of the normal schedule (December 22nd in the picture). Then dupe it to create a new recurring round-trip that resumes the normal recurrence after the holiday schedule:

Holiday recurrence 2

Then schedule the holiday trips by duping the original dispatch again... but configured to recur on whatever unusual schedule is requested. In the picture below, a special recurring dispatch is configured to begin on Wednesday the 24th, to repeat every Sunday and Tuesday, and to stop after 2 recurrences (3 trips total):

Holiday recurrence 3

If you did everything right, then the recurring dispatch for the holiday schedule will cease recurring at the end of the holiday schedule, at which time the recurring dispatch for the regular schedule will resume.



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