First shared on The Economic Times – Brand Equity. Read the coverage here.
There is a simple design-thinking approach that can help effectively manage the anxiety and emotions of the country and its citizens…
India and the official vaccine registration website
The Government of India’s official website for online vaccine registration and appointment has come under a lot of fire. Many citizens across age groups were unable to book vaccination appointments even after trying for weeks. There have been instances of overcrowding at vaccination centers and occasional uncontrolled mob events too. Angry citizens are making allegations of backend rigging and lack of transparency. Twitter is ablaze with messages full of sarcasm and disappointment from citizens struggling to get a slot for themselves and their families.
While vaccinating 1.3 billion people was never going to be easy, the task has been made even more painful because of the vaccine shortage. Many states had to pause their vaccination drive for adults above 18 years of age. This has led to mass panic.
Although private players have stepped in, the difficulty in getting appointment is still present as that is only possible through the official website. On the other hand, the high mark-up by private hospitals which otherwise are being given free by the Government is leading to further dissonance among citizens. Mass chaos has ensued due to lack of vaccines, inability to get appointments, anxiety and panic.
The best solution to this situation is to enhance the vaccine supply and make it available to all. The central, state and local governments are doing their best to ramp up the supply. Yet, given the large number of people to be vaccinated, only a handful vaccine manufacturers and length and breadth of India, it is bound to take time.
Meanwhile, there is a simple design-thinking approach that can help effectively manage the anxiety and emotions of the country and its citizens. Once that is implemented, it has the potential to yield better outcomes in terms of mental and well as physical well-being of the citizens in India and a smoother progress of the covid19 vaccination drive.
5 ways to make the online process more human-centric
We humans are not at all good with uncertainty. Studies show that as uncertainty of a scenario increases, the rational part of the brain give control to the limbic system, where emotions such as anxiety and fear take control. Therefore, the more uncertain the situation, the more anxiety it generates in human beings. The same is also true for any online experience.
The online registration website has a long log in process and gets even more cumbersome on the small screen. Even looking for the slot nearest to you is a tedious exercise. The drop-down menu has many choices built in are not displayed according to relevance or location accessed from. One has to click about 6-7 time before one gets to see the available slots and then appointment itself takes another three steps. All this makes it an extremely frustrating and time-consuming journey, especially for the less digitally savvy (of which we have plenty in India).
Here’s how human-centric design can help manage the uncertainty on the official vaccination website:
⦁ Real-time SMS notification on availability of appointments
Not knowing when the slots for appointment are being made available for the day is also leading to citizens missing out on opportunity to book one. Different private hospital and vaccination centers open at different times. While local bodies send out twitter alerts for government centers, a real-time SMS alert will help people know exactly when and where a slot opens up. Thus, making it convenient for them to manage their appointments accordingly. Currently some private players like Healthifyme are sending notifications, however this must be a feature that citizens can subscribe to for free on the official website.
⦁ Map-showing ‘near me’ vaccination centers
A great example of online user interface design is Uber. Uber’s success, among other things, can be attributed to the fact that you can see your taxi arrive. In the early days, a radio taxi would take almost the same time as an Uber. However, the uncertainty that a person would go through of not knowing where the taxi is while fearing a missed flight or doctor appointment or a pitch meeting, was extremely stressful. That’s where Uber real-time map interface worked as a masterstroke. The ability to track your cab visually on the screen and view an ETA helped manage the anxiety and became the option of choice for users.
A visual, location-based system should be designed for the vaccination registration website (Fig 1. a. & b.). The system should allow for the user to be identified by their location and shown only the ‘Near me’ centers on a map. In case, of non-availability, approximate Expected Date of Availability (EDA) in the local area should also be shown. There should be a personal dashboard to show how many slots are available and how many people are logged in currently, so the users can make an informed decision.
⦁ Incentivize citizens
Human beings are behaviorally predisposed to act on incentives. In the US, Krispy Kreme has offered to give everyone who gets vaccinated a free donut every day for the rest of the year. Anheuser-Busch is promising, which President Joe Biden also endorsed, to buy all above the age of 21 a round of beer if 70% of all people are vaccinated by July.
For every shot taken, Indian citizens should receive a gift voucher through a SMS for a local store in their location. A parallel system of recording the redemption through unique numbers should be set up to benefit the store owners. The government should then compensate the discount value to the individual business where the voucher is redeemed directly to the bank accounts of the store owners. Not only will it help more people come forward to get their vaccination but also help restart the markets at local level and the also the national economy by reviving offline purchases.
⦁ Vaccine Assistance and Second Dose Hotline
There are many elderlies who still haven’t been vaccinated, due to lack of proper ignorance or even fear of vaccines or getting infected at the crowded centers. A few citizens are even complaining of getting the vaccinated certificate without getting the jab. On the other hand, citizens who have been vaccinated are now waiting for their second dose. There is a lot of confusion about when it is to be taken, due to the change in the official recommended gap between doses for Covishield. Additionally, due to shortage of Covaxin, the ones who are looking for it are also worried of not getting theirs shot on time.
A dedicated assistance service supported by a toll-free number and manned call centers. should be activated to help citizens report their individual problems and receive assistance. A city-level, citizen-groups backed ‘Special Cases Cell’ should be created to manage and address the subsequent queries and problem of the vaccinated population.
⦁ Donate a jab
Nobody is safe till everybody is safe. Vaccination is the only way out of the current pandemic. The official registration website should also feature a section where people can nominate family and friends in other parts of the country to get vaccinated. A lot of people have someone who needs the vaccine but due to various reasons can’t access it. The ability to pay and arrange for a vaccine for someone who needs it, in one’s own city or another city will go a long way in spreading the safety net of the vaccination drive.
As the war against Covid19 is still being waged in hospitals and streets and even in manufacturing facilities that are trying to meet the massive vaccine shortage, these simple intervention in online consumer experience can make the process more human and less anxiety-generating for both, citizens as well as the administrators.
Enhancing the human-centricity of the online experience can prove to be the much-needed shot in the arm for the vaccination drive in India. And hopefully, after successfully managing the pandemic, these recommendations can also benefit other vaccination drives that had to take a backseat due to the covid19 pandemic.
The author is the senior creative director, Ogilvy Health & Wellness. Views expressed are personal.
to News Alerts