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It is not about DX it is about Mindset Transformation!

The nice graphic used for the Vaccination sites in Piedmont, Italy. Behind it a nightmare of inefficiency is lurking. Image captured from Regione Piemonte

This is the sad story I have lived, actually I am living, in first person: how to get vaccinated in Piedmont, Italy and the IT infrastructure supporting, hampering actually, it. Beyond the frustration it has some lesson to learn.

It all starts with an SMS message informing that I need to go on the “Il Piemonte ti vaccina” website. Pronto, I connect to the website and after a few clicks (it requires the unique digital identification, SPID, to access: this provides a bunch of data about myself, birth date, resident address, mail, …).

Once you are in the first thing you need to do is to type in… exactly the same data they already have about me. OK, let’s do that. Next I am proposed with a list of 7 vaccination centres I can choose. Let’s choose the closest one to my home. No availability through December nor January (no other window is provided).

Bad luck. Let’s pick another one. Same story: no availability. I start to wonder why do they offer me a choice that is not viable? Let’s keep going. After having exhausted all 7 possibilities with the same “no availability” result I don’t know what else to do.  I’ll check the web and I see that it is not just me,. Everybody is facing the same “no availability issue”. The offered solution is to try again because they are opening slots once in a while. To avoid overloading the system they also inform you that you have only three try per day (worse than the national lottery!).

So far I have not managed to win the vaccination lottery. My wife did not received the message but since she had her second shot before mine was eligible to make a reservation two weeks ago and she managed to get a slot.

Last Sunday she went to get her shot. The reservation was impressive. She was asked to report at the vaccination centre at 11.28 am, not at 11:30 please, we run on a tight schedule. There she was at 11:28 and asked for the vaccination booth.

No, she was told, that’s not the way it works. She had to queue and wait for her turn. The fact that her turn was supposed to be at 11:28 was not relevant. She queued for over one hour (in the cold outside the vaccination pavilion, but of course that was not a responsibility of the organisation, it is up to the weather to set the temperature…). In the meantime she received a form where she was asked to write her data (yes, the same one they already had and that she was asked to fill in at reservation).

Once she reached the end of the queue (or the top) she was asked for the Health card (again something that was already in the reservation ticket) and then went to see a doctor that again asked for the Health card. She also had to fill in a paper form indicating that she took responsibility for the vaccination (since she asked for it would that be sufficient, may be adding a sentence describing possibile side effects and asking to accept them?). After half an hour finally she got her shot and to get her certificate (she had to wait for it in spite of the fact that the certificate is issued electronically and ends up in her EHR) she had to show once more the Health care card.

There might be some reasons behind these procedures but I really cannot see them.

We have all data in the cyberspace, we have an authentication system to protect them and preserve privacy, doctors can access them on a need-to-know bases. Yet paper still rules. It is paper that is filled in and most likely destroyed by the end of the day (if it is stored somewhere I wonder about the cost and how it could be retrieved, actually why should it be retrieved since it is already available on line!).

It is actually worse than that. To create a system that clearly does not provide even a minim level of service, the Regione Piemonte shelled off quite a bit of money (not sure how much…) to get a system that was already available (every Regione in Italy has one, hope they work better, difficult to imagine they could be worse). Why are we wasting all that money to replicate support systems?

Couldn’t a national system be enough? Actually couldn’t a European system (with small language adaptation) be enough?

It is not about technology, it is about mindset. Before engaging in the Digital Transformation we should transform our mindset, otherwise the DX will just cost money without improving the services to the citizenship.

The worst of this? I do not see any awareness from the political system hence no attempt to fix it.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.