Which of these buttons would you press first?

Posted By on 21 May 2021

Just as we did not think we would draw links between medical and healthcare rostering and domestic appliances, we had not really contemplated the link between good software design and Covid vaccination rates. Until this week.

This week’s news is all about Australia’s lagging vaccination rates*. It appears it may not be all the fault of lazy Aussies…

We tried this week to book a vaccine from our HosPortal HQ in eastern Sydney. Finding the ‘book’ option on the main government site takes some searching and reading. The landing page is four screens long (see this extract in the header of this post). You need to read it all to realise that the link you want is possibly the one about half way down the first screen that you umm-ed and ahh-ed about a little while back (btw, it is NOT the one that says ‘Find out more’, nor the one that says ‘How to get vaccinated’).

The next stage is better – kudos to the Healthdirect team for how you enter your personal details. But then we are presented with a long list of GP practices over many screens, most of which say ‘none available’ for Covid appointments for the foreseeable future. Is there some reason I need to see these? Are these practices actually enrolled in the program at all? Give up here.

OK, let’s instead try the new and famous NSW government-run Homebush vaccination centre in western Sydney. No reference to that on the main government site we we were just on, so a Google search results in a series of options, none of which are obviously a government facility. Maybe it is the [insert name here] Vaccination Centre, also at Homebush? The complete lack of details about who is running it, on either its website or the SMS communications confirming your appointment, all make it feel like it was a joint venture set up between Bernie Madoff‘s personal physician and Melissa Caddick‘s strategy adviser. Not something that gives you confidence you want to trust your health to, even if you don’t have vaccine reluctance.

The next option is to look harder for the actual government site…which has its first available appointment in 2 weeks.

It is easy to just give up, regardless of exhortations by all sorts of officials that we the people need to do more.

The last attempt is maybe to just call the GP practice near us, like we would have done without any of the website or search tech in the old days. Remember the Yellow Pages? No long screening questions, no phone queue, no entering lots of data. We’re not even patients there. Just ‘How old are you and do you have a Medicare card?’. Then the musical sound of ‘Are you available tomorrow morning at 11am? We can squeeze your wife in too.’

At HosPortal we know that you often want to do a specific task easily and quickly. Moreover it is important to haveĀ confidence: confidence that if I want to do task X, I should look here first. Confidence that this is the button I press, and confidence that – once I press that button – I am pretty sure what is going to happen next. Australian government Covid roll-out strategists: you are welcome to give us a call.

(*Let’s leave aside for the moment the clearly ridiculous proposition that a strategy that seeks to get almost 100% of the population vaccinated, with sub-groups of different eligibility, using a scarce and hard-to-transport vaccine, seeks as a primary strategy to coordinate with 25,000 GPs and their staff of various capability in medical practices of varying logistical readiness and varying connectivity to the central booking system. Mass vaccination centres would appear to be the obvious first choice.)

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