Brant County Health Unit vs Ottawa

I’ve been reading stories about hours and hours worth of waiting in line for H1N1 vaccine in Ottawa.

Seems to me the problem of “how do we get a lot of people through a lineup” should be fairly well solved by now.

There are some key principles that make this sort of wait less painful. Don’t make people wait around. That seems fairly obvious, but so many stories I’ve heard from folks in Ottawa, through CBC, CFRA and blogs, tell of hours worth of waiting in lines, waiting in waiting rooms, waiting in staging areas, etc.

From the Ottawa citizen:

At a clinic outside Ottawa, people said they had started lining up at the Kanata Recreation Centre at 2 a.m. local time.

How can you keep people from having to wait around? Well, first off, give them some idea of the current load, and suggest an arrival time. Handing out tickets or wristbands is one way, and some clinics have done that. But why should I have to line up at 2am to get a wristband?

Here’s how I’d set this up.

You go to a website and register. Or pre-register anyway; I know some of the registration process has to be done by medical professionals. But get some of the details out of the way. Give me an approximate time when I should arrive, that’s got a half hour or so of buffer, but let me enter my cell number so I can receive SMS updates as my arrival time gets closer.

So, for example, when I register it tells me that I should plan to be at the clinic at 3pm. At 2:30pm I receive an SMS that says I should arrive at 2:45pm, or 5pm. Whatever the updated information is. Too many times I’ve been waiting in the doctor’s office for over an hour for my “scheduled” appointment, fuming that they could have called me and let me know they were running late. Why not let the system do the calling?

Anyway, that’s my ideal system, and that’s not what the Brant County Health Unit has, but they have something pretty close.

You visit this website (apparently built with Joomla – kudos), and pick an available 5 minute time slot. Assuming things don’t get too far behind (and that may be a big assumption, we’ll see), that’s it – you show up at the time slot that’s reserved for you and get your shot.

You’d think the big cities would have the best processes, but maybe the smaller communities have a level of agility that the big cities can’t manage. Anyway, we’ve booked an appointment for our son and I’ll post back with how it went.