Monday, May 17, 2021

Why Are the Federal & ACT COVID-19 Vaccination Booking Websites So Difficult to Use?

WHO Digital Vaccination Certificate
This is to suggest improvements in the COVID-19 vaccination websites of the Federal and ACT Governments. In contrast to those of a private medial provider, the government sites do not appear to have been designed to prioritize vaccination of the general public. It is suggested a booking link be added to the top of the federal and ACT pages, and the ACT use the same Medicare number format as other providers, and not limit online booking at its clinics to existing patients. This is based on my experience helping design emergency websites and teaching how to do this. 

Below I detail some changes, and why they are needed. Australia's vaccination rate is currently far below that needed to have everyone eligible offered at least one dose buy the end of the year. There are obvious flaws in the federal and ACT vaccination websites, including incorrect, and misleading formation. By making it harder for the public to get vaccinated, are placing lives, and the economy, at risk. It is suggested changing the government sites to make it easier for the bulk of the population to book a vaccination. It would also be useful to offer something tangible, such as a vaccination certificate, with a QR code.

Suggested Changes

1. Booking Link at Top of Page: Both federal and ACT governments should have a line at the top of their main COVID-19 web pages for booking:

  • Fifty or over? Book your COVID-19 vaccination now:  50+ Book! 

2. Show online booking sites first: The federal government page should display vaccination centers which have online booking first. Public high capacity clinics should be displayed first, followed by GP clinics, and GPs last.

3. Allow ACT residents to register online with ACT Health: The ACT Government should delete the map from their page until there are more ACT centers for the public to choose from. The Medicare number entry field on the MyDHR registration page should be changed to use the same format as federal government and private medical sites. The restriction that only existing patients can register should be lifted. 

Finding Where to Get Vaccinated

A web search using Google for "covid19 vaccine booking", has as the first four responses:

  1. COVID-19 Vaccine Booking - Book An Appointment (Ad)
  2. COVID-19 vaccinations - Available now in Canberra (Ad)
  3. How will I get my COVID-19 vaccine? | Australian Government 
  4. Booking your COVID-19 vaccination - COVID-19 - ACT Health

The first two of these are paid advertisements and the next two native responses. The first is to the federal health website, the next a private clinic in Canberra, then a different Federal Government page and lastly the ACT Government. That there are two different federal government pages resulting from the one search is confusing. 

Federal Health Website

The first Federal Government page says "... book an appointment if you are eligible ...", but this is below the fold, below the first screen of information, in the middle of a sentence and thus very difficult to see. 

From: COVID-19 vaccines, Australian Government Department of Health, 17 May 2021 (detail).

The priority in the design of this page appears to be to educate the public as to who is eligible, so as not to overload the system. With the decision to permit all over 50s to book, I suggest this is misplaced. The priority should be on getting people vaccinated and saying "book vaccination".

After three screens the federal system displays the nearest vaccination centers. Here they are for O'Connor, ACT:

Vaccination centers suggested for O'Connor ACT.

The screen is headed with "Please use online appointments where available to reduce call volumes to clinics. If you can’t find an appointment or a clinic in your location, please check back in a week.". However, four of the five entries displays are for phone bookings only. Following the instructions given, the user would select the one and only clinic which takes online bookings.

The only entry which has a link for online booking is to the ACT Government clinic. However, this only accepts online booking from previous patents of ACT Heath (and I was unable to make a booking even though I had been a patient). 

National Health Co-op

National Health Co-op is a non-government, not-for-profit health service. The web link leads to a vaccinations page, with two buttons, for "Covid 19" and "Flu Shot". This then shows the six locations where a shot can be booked. The details of how to registered and book are left until later.

National Health Co-op COVID-19 Booking details

This is a good design, the user gets to see where they could go, without having to enter a lot of personal details first. However, the information presented contradicts that on the Federal Health web site. The Federal site lists the Co-op's ANU clinic as available for phone bookings only. That clinic is not listed by the Co-op's website and all of those listed can be booked online. It appears the Federal government site is incorrect, listing a clinic which is not available and also not listing those which are. 

Second Federal Government Web Page

The second federal government page to appear in the web search results is "How will I get my COVID-19 vaccine?". This has a link for "Book or register for COVID-19 vaccination", but below the fold, so the user has to scroll down to find it. This then links to the COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker, discussed above. Again the booking link is not prominent, and the page does not appear to be designed to have vaccination booking as a priority.

Federal how will I get my vaccine page.

This is not a good design, as the link for booking a vaccination is not prominent. 

ACT Health

The ACT Health Booking your COVID-19 vaccination page, has the link "How to book your COVID-19 vaccination" above the fold. 

ACT Health Booking your COVID-19 vaccination page

This then displays a map showing the clinics:

ACT clinics map

However, only one of three of the clinics shown are for the general public. As a result showing a map is misleading, not useful. The one clinic shown requires online booking via the ACT Government booking system "MyDHR". This system requires entry of the Medicare number in a format different to that used by the federal government and private providers, and the number is not displayed as it is entered. Also online registration is only available to those who are already patients in the ACT health system (and in some chases even not then). 

MyDHR Registration screen obscuring Medicare number.

Previously I provided some "Suggested Improvements to ACT Health COVID-19 Vaccination Booking System". Unfortunately so far the ACT Government has not made the suggested improvements. The only response received is a Tweet (3:01 PM · May 14, 2021) from ACT Health: 

"Hi, if you have any technical issues when using MyDHR, please call 02 5124 5000 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Please refer to our FAQ 'I'm having issues signing up to MyDHR' for other reasons you may be having issues"

While this doesn't address any of the issues, it at least indicates the suggestions have been received by the ACT Government.

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