Lean approach to COVID Vaccine appointment websites

Improvement Insights Blog

Lean approach to COVID Vaccine appointment websites

COVID Vaccine Appointment websites are poorly designed. They force millions of people to hack their way through page after page only to discover there are no appointments. What could they do instead, and how can you adopt these Lean principles to your website?

“Well, hi, I’m Jay Arthur, the author of Lean Six Sigma Demystified and QI Macros [software].

“Now, I’m an old IT guy, so I’ve been doing this for 60 odd years, ever since high school. But one of the things that irritates me is just poor design. And so, I recently was able to start getting involved with trying to find a COVID vaccine appointment, as I’m over 65 years old here in Colorado. And so, I just want to show you a few things about what I think is crazy. And then, let’s talk a little bit about what I think the design problems were.

“So, this is Albertsons/Safeway. So, I can put in my zip code here within five miles, or I could say 15 miles, or whatever. I click on Search, it comes down and gives me this bunch of junk here. But notice that, below the fold, I have to scroll all the way down here to find out that I have to click this box to prove that I’m part of the sub-population that’s part of the deal. So, then I click Submit. And so, then up comes this thing and it looks like there’s somebody out there chatting with me. Somebody went to a lot of effort to make this happen. So, select type of appointment, select one. Guess what? There’s only one in there. Let me tell you, if there’s only one choice making me pick it is irritating, that’s just irritating.

“Now, watch what happens next. It’s as if someone’s sort of typing. Somebody worked really hard to make it look like somebody was talking to you when there’s nothing going on. So, now, it finally lets me hit the Next button. How many different steps did I have to go through to get here from there?

“Now, look at this is my nearest Safeway. Notice, there are no appointments. And if I go to the other ones, there’s no appointments, there’s no appointments. At least this way I can go through all of these. I’m not sure I have to go through it all over again. But if there’s no appointments anywhere, why did you bother to run me through all this rigmarole to begin with? So, that’s the whole Safeway/Albertson one, which I think is just flat annoying. Just flat annoying. And it’s gone through all this stuff to make me get there. That’s dumb.

“Here’s my local King Soopers. First thing we have to do is choose a location, of course. And here’s my friendly local King Soopers, if I select that, then I have to choose Continue. I don’t know why I have to select and choose Continue. Then, I discover, oh, there’s no available time slots. Please try another location. So, now you can actually go back here and say, I want to choose another pharmacy, so I can check somebody else. Now, notice when I click that, all of a sudden I got a bunch of blank screen. The thing I need to click is up here. So, essentially, this idiot site just keeps schlocking me around, and I have to do this to go find maybe another pharmacy that might have a dose. So, I still have to select, I can’t see what I’m supposed to do next. And I have to scroll up to click Continue, still doesn’t work.

“Now, here’s the Walmart location. So, I had to log in to get into this one. So, here’s a location, so I can pick that location. But now I have to scroll all the way down here to find the Continue button. Then, I have to confirm that I belong to the right group. Then, here’s your eligibility, here’s all the crap you have to bring. Guess what? There’s no appointments at this store right now. Please try another store.

“So, both King Soopers and Walmart are asking me to keep checking different stores. Why don’t you just look at all your damn stores for me, and tell me which one has the vaccine? Do you understand? This is stupid. And I had to go through a whole bunch of hoops to get to that point. And then, if I ever go back, I have to do that again. So I say, well, let’s try that one, then I get down to Continue, then I have to check on my box again. All these cookies that people leave around, why isn’t it saving a cookie about who I am? And so, then we have to confirm, then we schedule a vaccination. There’s no appointments. Do you get the idea that for millions and millions of people trying to do this, it’s become ridiculous?

“Now, I had to log in Walgreens as well. And so, a limited availability. So notice, again, I have to scroll down to find the button to click. So, schedule it today, now, I have to scroll down some more. Let’s not pretend people are going to read all this nonsense. See if you’re eligible in your state, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Get started. I want to get started. And then, once you scroll down here, then it’s going to fill in a whole bunch of zip codes for me. And I don’t know why. So, I want to search in my neighborhood. There are no vaccination appointments available within 25 miles. So, at least it looked around to all the stores for me and said, there’s no appointments available.

“Do you start to get the idea that people are banging away at all of these sites, and the sites are making everyone work way too hard to find out there’s no vaccines available? It presupposes that there was going to be ubiquitous supplies of vaccine. I mean, there was all kinds of assumptions built into it. And we tried to make it pretty, and make it seem like you’re talking to a real person, or something like that. No. Just get me to the vaccine appointment. You either have vaccines or you don’t. If you don’t have it, I don’t want to fill out the rest of that junk.

“Okay so, here’s the CVS Pharmacy. Now you notice here, again, I have to scroll down here, and then I get a map of the world, and then I get a button I can click. And guess what? They’re all booked. And we’ll add more as these become available status of 11:00 AM Eastern Time, all booked. Well, at least they told me everything in my neighborhood is booked. So, this one’s a little bit better. So, this one helped me out some.

“But, now, I think sometimes it takes private industry and private groups to go out and say, “Hey, what’s the best way to go about this?” So, there’s actually a site out here called vaccinehunter.org, which has information about all this stuff. And you got to scroll on down and then you can find out… And click on Colorado. And Colorado tells you there’s a Facebook group that is working on this. And so, I could go out, and look at my Facebook Colorado group, and find out what they’re talking about.I want to see what all the posts are today, so I can start looking at that. Now, I actually joined that group. And that’s where I got the idea that came next. Somebody out there actually… No, that’s not it. Somebody out there actually wrote some code that will go out and screen scrape all of these sites, and find out who has appointments. It’ll go out and find out who’s actually got appointments. And so, it’ll check online. Now, unfortunately you can see here, we have no appointments. Earlier this morning, Pharmaca had a few appointments, but those are gone. But, now, you can see that across our region, CVS, Pharmaca, Safeway, Walgreens, Walmart, King Soopers, none of them have anything. That’s what I wanted to know when I came in. But this was written by a guy just to automate all this for the rest of us. Thank God for this guy. And he open-sourced the code so you could do this in any state.

“This is what I wanted when I started trying to do this, I wanted to know who, if anybody, had any appointments. That’s all I want to know. And the state of Colorado one shows a map of the state and it’s the whole state, not anything close to me, so I have to scroll way down to get to my neighborhood. And it shows me a few places that might or might not have vaccines, but there’s no way to figure out how to get to those vaccines.

“So, all I’m trying to tell you here is that your whole process… This one times out after a while. The King Soopers one is bouncing you around. Walmart’s not helping me that much. Walgreens, at least, says there’s nothing available in my region. CVS was smart enough about that. But this particular one is actually helping us all to find out if there’s any appointments available. Now, because of the storm last week, everything was delayed, so there’s nothing new out there. I expect that to change.

“All I’m trying to tell you is we talk a lot about “leaning” things. Well, a lot of this stuff has a whole bunch of unnecessary steps to get to the “Do you have vaccines?” And “Do you have appointments?” Then, I’ll worry about all this other nonsense. So, the process is very convoluted and it’s no wonder people are going out of their mind trying to figure this out.

“So, I want you to think about your own website, is there a way to simplify, streamline the steps, the trips, the whatever? And trying to make it cute is stupid. What you want to do is try and make it direct, help them get to the direct thing, which is what we keep trying to do here at QI Macros.

“That’s my Improvement Insight for this week. Take a look at your information systems, your websites, and find out how many unnecessary steps are involved in getting people to the outcome they want. That is the challenge, I believe, for many of us is it’s not just the thing you make, it’s the thing that helps you sell the thing you make. Or the thing that helps you support the thing you make, that’s all online now. And so, what we have to do is find a better way to run and design these websites.

“That’s my Improvement Insight for this week. Let’s go out and improve something this week, like our websites and our customer experience.”

(P.S. Walgreens website failed when attempting to book both first and second doses.)

“Well, hi, I’m Jay Arthur, the author of Lean Six Sigma Demystified and QI Macros [software].

“Now, I’m an old IT guy, so I’ve been doing this for 60 odd years, ever since high school. But one of the things that irritates me is just poor design. And so, I recently was able to start getting involved with trying to find a COVID vaccine appointment, as I’m over 65 years old here in Colorado. And so, I just want to show you a few things about what I think is crazy. And then, let’s talk a little bit about what I think the design problems were.

“So, this is Albertsons/Safeway. So, I can put in my zip code here within five miles, or I could say 15 miles, or whatever. I click on Search, it comes down and gives me this bunch of junk here. But notice that, below the fold, I have to scroll all the way down here to find out that I have to click this box to prove that I’m part of the sub-population that’s part of the deal. So, then I click Submit. And so, then up comes this thing and it looks like there’s somebody out there chatting with me. Somebody went to a lot of effort to make this happen. So, select type of appointment, select one. Guess what? There’s only one in there. Let me tell you, if there’s only one choice making me pick it is irritating, that’s just irritating.

“Now, watch what happens next. It’s as if someone’s sort of typing. Somebody worked really hard to make it look like somebody was talking to you when there’s nothing going on. So, now, it finally lets me hit the Next button. How many different steps did I have to go through to get here from there?

“Now, look at this is my nearest Safeway. Notice, there are no appointments. And if I go to the other ones, there’s no appointments, there’s no appointments. At least this way I can go through all of these. I’m not sure I have to go through it all over again. But if there’s no appointments anywhere, why did you bother to run me through all this rigmarole to begin with? So, that’s the whole Safeway/Albertson one, which I think is just flat annoying. Just flat annoying. And it’s gone through all this stuff to make me get there. That’s dumb.

“Here’s my local King Soopers. First thing we have to do is choose a location, of course. And here’s my friendly local King Soopers, if I select that, then I have to choose Continue. I don’t know why I have to select and choose Continue. Then, I discover, oh, there’s no available time slots. Please try another location. So, now you can actually go back here and say, I want to choose another pharmacy, so I can check somebody else. Now, notice when I click that, all of a sudden I got a bunch of blank screen. The thing I need to click is up here. So, essentially, this idiot site just keeps schlocking me around, and I have to do this to go find maybe another pharmacy that might have a dose. So, I still have to select, I can’t see what I’m supposed to do next. And I have to scroll up to click Continue, still doesn’t work.

“Now, here’s the Walmart location. So, I had to log in to get into this one. So, here’s a location, so I can pick that location. But now I have to scroll all the way down here to find the Continue button. Then, I have to confirm that I belong to the right group. Then, here’s your eligibility, here’s all the crap you have to bring. Guess what? There’s no appointments at this store right now. Please try another store.

“So, both King Soopers and Walmart are asking me to keep checking different stores. Why don’t you just look at all your damn stores for me, and tell me which one has the vaccine? Do you understand? This is stupid. And I had to go through a whole bunch of hoops to get to that point. And then, if I ever go back, I have to do that again. So I say, well, let’s try that one, then I get down to Continue, then I have to check on my box again. All these cookies that people leave around, why isn’t it saving a cookie about who I am? And so, then we have to confirm, then we schedule a vaccination. There’s no appointments. Do you get the idea that for millions and millions of people trying to do this, it’s become ridiculous?

“Now, I had to log in Walgreens as well. And so, a limited availability. So notice, again, I have to scroll down to find the button to click. So, schedule it today, now, I have to scroll down some more. Let’s not pretend people are going to read all this nonsense. See if you’re eligible in your state, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Get started. I want to get started. And then, once you scroll down here, then it’s going to fill in a whole bunch of zip codes for me. And I don’t know why. So, I want to search in my neighborhood. There are no vaccination appointments available within 25 miles. So, at least it looked around to all the stores for me and said, there’s no appointments available.

“Do you start to get the idea that people are banging away at all of these sites, and the sites are making everyone work way too hard to find out there’s no vaccines available? It presupposes that there was going to be ubiquitous supplies of vaccine. I mean, there was all kinds of assumptions built into it. And we tried to make it pretty, and make it seem like you’re talking to a real person, or something like that. No. Just get me to the vaccine appointment. You either have vaccines or you don’t. If you don’t have it, I don’t want to fill out the rest of that junk.

“Okay so, here’s the CVS Pharmacy. Now you notice here, again, I have to scroll down here, and then I get a map of the world, and then I get a button I can click. And guess what? They’re all booked. And we’ll add more as these become available status of 11:00 AM Eastern Time, all booked. Well, at least they told me everything in my neighborhood is booked. So, this one’s a little bit better. So, this one helped me out some.

“But, now, I think sometimes it takes private industry and private groups to go out and say, “Hey, what’s the best way to go about this?” So, there’s actually a site out here called vaccinehunter.org, which has information about all this stuff. And you got to scroll on down and then you can find out… And click on Colorado. And Colorado tells you there’s a Facebook group that is working on this. And so, I could go out, and look at my Facebook Colorado group, and find out what they’re talking about.I want to see what all the posts are today, so I can start looking at that. Now, I actually joined that group. And that’s where I got the idea that came next. Somebody out there actually… No, that’s not it. Somebody out there actually wrote some code that will go out and screen scrape all of these sites, and find out who has appointments. It’ll go out and find out who’s actually got appointments. And so, it’ll check online. Now, unfortunately you can see here, we have no appointments. Earlier this morning, Pharmaca had a few appointments, but those are gone. But, now, you can see that across our region, CVS, Pharmaca, Safeway, Walgreens, Walmart, King Soopers, none of them have anything. That’s what I wanted to know when I came in. But this was written by a guy just to automate all this for the rest of us. Thank God for this guy. And he open-sourced the code so you could do this in any state.

“This is what I wanted when I started trying to do this, I wanted to know who, if anybody, had any appointments. That’s all I want to know. And the state of Colorado one shows a map of the state and it’s the whole state, not anything close to me, so I have to scroll way down to get to my neighborhood. And it shows me a few places that might or might not have vaccines, but there’s no way to figure out how to get to those vaccines.

“So, all I’m trying to tell you here is that your whole process… This one times out after a while. The King Soopers one is bouncing you around. Walmart’s not helping me that much. Walgreens, at least, says there’s nothing available in my region. CVS was smart enough about that. But this particular one is actually helping us all to find out if there’s any appointments available. Now, because of the storm last week, everything was delayed, so there’s nothing new out there. I expect that to change.

“All I’m trying to tell you is we talk a lot about “leaning” things. Well, a lot of this stuff has a whole bunch of unnecessary steps to get to the “Do you have vaccines?” And “Do you have appointments?” Then, I’ll worry about all this other nonsense. So, the process is very convoluted and it’s no wonder people are going out of their mind trying to figure this out.

“So, I want you to think about your own website, is there a way to simplify, streamline the steps, the trips, the whatever? And trying to make it cute is stupid. What you want to do is try and make it direct, help them get to the direct thing, which is what we keep trying to do here at QI Macros.

“That’s my Improvement Insight for this week. Take a look at your information systems, your websites, and find out how many unnecessary steps are involved in getting people to the outcome they want. That is the challenge, I believe, for many of us is it’s not just the thing you make, it’s the thing that helps you sell the thing you make. Or the thing that helps you support the thing you make, that’s all online now. And so, what we have to do is find a better way to run and design these websites.

“That’s my Improvement Insight for this week. Let’s go out and improve something this week, like our websites and our customer experience.”

(P.S. Walgreens website failed when attempting to book both first and second doses.)

This entry was posted by Jay Arthur in Healthcare, Improvement Insights, Lean and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.