The SAM Search Criteria Screen

After you select a patient, you will see the SAM Search Criteria screen shown below. From here you can review information about the patient, add more patients and relatives for scheduling, jump to several other Partner programs, or enter visit criteria to schedule a new appointment.

The customizable patient information in the middle of this screen can be very helpful. If the patient has been dismissed or transferred, for example, you may see a flag indicating that in one or more of the “STATUS” lines at the top. You can also confirm address, phone, and insurance information on this screen and use F6Demographics to correct any problems. Best of all, this screen is customizable. If your office needs to add or remove certain information, contact PCC for help editing this screen.

Note: Before scheduling, check out the “LAST PHYS” and “NEXT APPT” fields in the upper right hand corner. Many insurance companies will not pay for more than one physical a year, and another family member may have already scheduled this patient’s appointment. The “NEXT APPT” field will show you this patient’s first upcoming appointment after today.

Enter Visit Criteria

The SAM Search Criteria screen contains patient information and scheduling tools, but the primary purpose is scheduling appointments. After reviewing the information on the screen, you continue scheduling by filling out the information at the top of the screen. The top row of fields are: Visit Reason, Provider, Minutes, and Location.

As you enter information, press ENTER to move from field to field. You can also use the TAB key. TAB moves the cursor through every field; ENTER only selects the most important fields: Visit Reason, Provider, and Time Frame. To go back one field, press BACKSPACE or use the left arrow key.

Default Values: The criteria fields can have default values. If your office has only one provider, or almost always performs the same visit reason, ask PCC Support about configuring a default value. Partner can also automatically enter the patient’s Primary Care Physician, instead. In either case, Partner can automatically enter the provider’s preferred visit length (in minutes) for the Visit Reason.

Status Flags Can Block Scheduling: Some patient and account flags can restrict your ability to schedule. If the patient has the “Deceased” flag, for example, that flag will appear in the Visit Reason field and you will be unable to proceed. Contact PCC Support for help configuring the “Prevent Scheduling” feature for certain status flags.

Visit Reasons

Is the patient coming in for a standard sick visit or a physical? Does your office schedule flu shot visits and ADD consultations? Partner contains a predefined list of visit reasons that can be entered into this box. Your office has its own list which can be configured to your particular scheduling needs in ted, the Table Editor.

Do you want to see a list of visit reasons defined on your system? Enter an asterisk (*) and press ENTER. To learn more about defining different visit reasons for your office, read the Sam Configuration section of the Partner Manual or contact PCC support.

Remember to abbreviate. Instead of typing out Sick Call for a sick visit, just type s and press enter. The screen will show you what your abbreviation stood for, so do not worry if you make a bad guess and use an improper abbreviation. Abbreviations are customizable and can be changed for your office.

Providers or Provider Groups, Minutes

Just as Partner knows your office’s visit reasons, it also knows your providers. You can see a list by entering an asterisk (*) and selecting the provider desired. You may notice a letter next to the Provider field. That letter is an initial indicating the patient’s primary care provider as stored in the Patient Editor (notjane) and checkin programs.

Groups? In addition to using a provider’s name, your office may use provider groups for scheduling. For example, you may enter “any” to find open times for any available provider. PCC support can create any provider group you would find useful for scheduling. Many large practices have “male” and “female” groups for use when the patient wants an appointment with any male or female provider.

PCP or Other Default: PCC Support can configure the Scheduler to automatically enter a default provider or the patient’s Primary Care Physician (if record in the Patient Editor).

Minutes: Each provider may have a default visit length for each visit reason. If Dr. Smith needs ten minutes for a sick visit, Partner can be configured so the Minutes field will automatically display that time without you having to type it. If you press ENTER from the provider field, sam will skip the Minutes field entirely. Some offices leave the length of consultations or other visit types unspecified. For those visits you can press TAB and enter a time in the “Minutes” field. You might also do this in order to extend a sick or recheck visit for a patient who needs extra time (indicated with a status flag).


The “Location” field shows an abbreviation for the office in which you are scheduling. It can be changed if you are making an appointment in a different location. You can skip this field by using the ENTER key to move among the fields. As with the visit reasons and the providers, you can see a list of scheduling locations by using the asterisk (*) key.

Time Frames

After entering other appointment criteria, sam users enter a date or one or more time frames to indicate when an appointment should take place.

Time frames help a busy scheduler find the best available appointment.

A time frame can be nearly anything a caller says to you on the phone: a date, a day of the week, a month, a range of dates or times, or even a few everyday phrases. You can combine up to four time frames and use abbreviations. If someone asks you for Thursday afternoons in December, just enter “thurs”, “aftn” and “dec” to view appropriate openings.

Optional: Time frames are optional. If you leave the Time Frame fields empty, sam will offer you the first available time slot on the next four days the provider has free time.

Time Frames vs. A Scheduling "Book": With traditional scheduling, if a family had Mondays off work and needed a 1 month recheck, you would have to flip through from Monday to Monday. Using sam’s time frames, however, you can enter “Mondays” and “in 1 month” and find all available times that match the patient and family’s needs. sam will show you the first available time on each Monday starting one month from now. You can then confirm one of those times or scroll to more matching offerings with the touch of a key.

You will need to practice using time frames for a while before you become an expert. Until you learn all the tricks, remember that you can always just enter the date and/or time that the caller desires. You can also leave the question blank and sam will offer you the earliest available times.

Different Kinds of Time Frames

Many different words and phrases work as time frames. Below are the basic elements of different time frames you might use, along with some examples. Notice that the examples include both the full text as well as some of the abbreviations that are allowed.

Basic Element

Possible Time Frames
Dates01/16/2004, 01/16, Jan 16
Daysmonday, mondays, mon, tues, wed, mo, tu, we, …
Times10:30am, 1:00pm, 1pm, …
Monthsjanuary, jan, feb, mar, apr, ja, fe, ap, …
Rangeswed-thu, 10/01-10/15, 3pm-6pm
How Far Outin two weeks, 2wks, in 1 month, 1m
Time of Daymorning, morn, evening, eve, afterschool, afts, afternoon, aftn
Not…not monday, not tuesday, not mo, not tu
Before…Before 10/01/06, not before 09/01/06, before june
Everyday Phrasesasap, sick, today
Multiple Patient Indicatorconcurrent, serial

As illustrated above, the Time Frame fields accept two and three letter abbreviations for days and months. The exceptions include march, may, june, and july, which all need at least three letters.

Sick, “Today”, and asap

The abbreviations “asap” and “sick” are not standard time frames.

The “asap” time frame looks for the first available time over the next several days. The “sick” time frame (which can also be typed as “today” or “t”) concentrates on times for today only.

Use the “sick” time frame to see one column, with times for today only. This can be very helpful if you handle a lot of triage phone calls and do not wish to see any day except for today. If you use the “any” group as your provider, the sick time frame will show you one column for every provider who has available time today.

Multiple Patient Indicator

Another special time frame is the multiple patient indicator. If you are scheduling for more than one patient or scheduling the same patient for multiple visits or multiple providers, you can use one of these two time frames. You either want the visits to be “concurrent” (scheduled at the same time with different providers) or “serial” (scheduled back-to-back). The default behavior is “serial.” For more information, read the Scheduling Multiple Patients topic.

Time Frames in Action

Now that you have seen the basic elements, some more examples will help you see how time frames can be entered. Below are some examples of appointment requests you might receive and what time frame to use. Remember that you can always just enter a date if the caller gives you a date. The tricks below might help you to find more appropriate openings more quickly.

Common Requests and Possible Time Frames

If the caller asks for:Use the time frame(s) of:
A sick/office visit for todaysick OR t
As soon as possibleasap
September 15th or after09/15
1 month from now1 mo
A recheck 2 weeks from today2wks
Any Monday afternoonMonAftn
Any time between 10 and 210am-2pm
In the morning on Oct 20thmorn10/20
Any Thursday afternoon in Julythurjulyafternoon
Either Monday or Tuesday afterschoolmon, tuesafts
At 2pm, but not Tuesday or Thursday2not tue, thur
Any Monday afternoon before June 10thmoaftnbefore 06/10/06

As you can see, you can combine time frames to focus in on what the patient needs. Using time frames is a skill that grows with practice, so you may want to review the elements above once you have used sam for a few weeks. Even if you only use dates, days of the week and asap, you will still find available time slots much faster than by searching through the entire schedule.

After you have entered a visit reason, provider, time, location and time frame(s), press F1Schedule to browse available times.

Overbooking and Jumping to a Specific Date

The sam program is designed to first show you all open, available slots. There is no time frame that will show you a day that is booked solid. Depending on how you enter time frames, searching for a date and provider where there is not enough time will either result in the next day or show no available appointments.

How can you overbook? You can review a full day and overbook a provider by using the Detail or Day View screens.

Function Keys on the SAM Search Criteria Screen

You can perform a wide range of Partner functions from the opening screen in sam:

F1 – Schedule

Press F1 to continue the scheduling process using the information you entered at the top of the screen. See the Enter Visit Criteria articles for more information on completing the Visit Reason, Provider, Minutes, Location, and Time Frame fields.

F2 – Inquire

Press F2 to run the inquire program. In inquire you can view complete visit information on a patient’s future and previous appointments. You can delete, cancel, or mark these appointments as missed. You can change the notes for an appointment and reprint the encounter form. For more information, read the [prog]inquire[/prog] article.

F3 – Find

Press F3 to find more patients. You can then view and schedule more than one patient simultaneously. After you find them, they will be listed at the top of this screen. As you select each one using the arrow keys, the demographic information will change to show information for each patient. You can enter appointment criteria and schedule for each patient or you can clear unneeded patients from the screen by selecting them and pressing F8Clear.

See the Scheduling Multiple Patients topic for more information. In addition to scheduling several different patients, you can schedule the same patient for a simultaneous visit with two or more providers or a provider and an assistant.

F4 – Customizable Function Key

Press F4 to perform a custom action. If your office frequently adds a pen note, views a scheduling report, or performs some other common Partner function while scheduling, you can assign that function to the F4 key on the Search Criteria screen. Contact PCC support (<> or 1-800-722-1082) to set up a custom action for the F4 key.

F5 – Next Relation

Press F5 to add a relation of the current patient. A relation is any patient who shares a custodian with the current patient. This is particularly useful when scheduling siblings. When you press F5, sam will show you a list of all the patients related to the currently selected patient. Select the ones you wish to work with and press F1Process. See the Scheduling Multiple Patients section below for more information.

F6 – Demographics

Press F6 to run the checkin program. This is a very important tool, as checkin contains links to most other Partner programs. Do you need to look up the patient’s immunization record before scheduling? Jump to checkin and then press F2Edit Patient to run the Patient Editor (notjane). From checkin you can also review outstanding balances, update insurance information, or even post payments.

F7 – Customizable Function Key

Press F7 to perform a custom action. If your office frequently adds a pen note, views a scheduling report, or performs some other common Partner function while scheduling, you can assign that function to the F7 key on the Search Criteria screen. Contact PCC support (<> or 1-800-722-1082) to set up a custom action for the F7 key.

F8 – Clear

Press F8 to remove the currently selected patient from your list. If you only have one patient listed at the top of the screen, press F8 to search and schedule for a new patient. If you have used the Find or Next Relation keys to add additional patients to the top of the screen, you can use F8 to remove them from the list before scheduling.

Jumping Back to the Criteria Screen

After filling out the visit criteria and pressing F1Schedule, you will have access to the three sam scheduling screens and can pick the best available date and time for the appointment. If you need to jump back to the Search Criteria screen and make a change to one of the items described above, you have several options.

F2 – New Time Frame

Press F2 to jump back to the Search Criteria screen and put the cursor into the first Time Frame field.


Press V to return to the Search Criteria screen and put the cursor into the Visit Reason field.


Press P to return to the Search Criteria screen and put the cursor into the Provider field.


Press L to return to the Search Criteria screen and put the cursor into the Location field.


Press M to return to the Search Criteria screen and put the cursor into the Minute field.


Press T to return to the Search Criteria screen and put the cursor into the Time Frame field.


Press F12 to return to the Search Criteria screen and put the cursor into the first (Visit Reason) field.

The above hot-keys will help you quickly change visit criteria while scheduling a patient.

  • Last modified: August 3, 2015