CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario) launched a new online portal last week. It allows parents to schedule COVID-19 tests online for their children. The appointment takes place at the Brewer Arena test site. Even though the site has been operating for a short time, it has already had a lot of negative responses. Many believe that the system is flawed and sluggish. A University of Ottawa professor also expressed his opinion, calling the online test booking system discriminatory. According to computer science teacher Timothy Lethbridge, booking a test is a real lottery. You have test slots posted on the site at 8:30 p.m. And to schedule an appointment on the online portal, you need to literally game the system.
The real game of chance begins, when test slots just appear on the site. As a specialist in the IT field and as the father of a daughter who also needed a test, Timothy Lethbridge commented on the situation. According to his words, due to sluggish processing and a large number of requests, the system fails. The processing speed is very slow, and while you fill out the appointment details, someone might be ahead of you and take your slot. Unfortunately, the system does not notify you that there are several other applicants for one slot along with you. Lethbridge said he spent a lot of time refreshing the page in the hopes that one of the appointments would be available again. He did the same the next day, but he did not succeed in taking the slot. This is real discrimination, as people are in unequal conditions. Some may have slow internet speed, while others simply do not have sufficient technical skills to complete the registration quickly. He complains that some groups of people, such as disabled people, just don’t have a chance. However, Timothy Lethbridge was not the only one who faced a similar problem on the site. It took Josh Hendry several tries to schedule an appointment for his child. All attempts failed, and he had to personally go to the assessment center early in the morning. This outcome of events disappointed him even more. Already at the earliest time – 5:45 am – a huge queue lined up for the test. It was almost impossible to get inside with a three-year-old child.
CHEO representatives gave feedback
None of the CHEO representatives were able to be interviewed on Friday. However, Patrick Moore answered this question in an email. In his letter, he explained that the problem was due to the huge number of requests on the site. This led to slow down the performance of the online platform.
It’s the same as buying a ticket to the world-famous band concert
Lethbridge, like Hendry, got tested for the coronavirus only after heading to the assessment center on his own in the early morning. He heard from other people that it was possible to work around the system’s flaws. It’s like booking a ticket to a concert of a famous band. To win this crazy lottery game, you need to get help from friends and family. Using several devices increases the ability to capture one of the available slots. Disappointed with the current work of MyChart, the computer science professor makes a presentation of an improved version of the online portal. He suggested the Children’s Hospital to add several useful features for users that would make the site much easier to use. Besides, the development of these functions will take a minimum of costs and only a couple of days. Otherwise, Timothy Lethbridge says, it’s easier for people to come to face-to-face meetings at the assessment center in the early morning. In the current situation, it is much more efficient than using an online-portal.