The CVS app malfunctioned causing – then canceling – vaccination appointments. And it got worse.

CVS Pharmacy, the $292 billion retail division of CVS Health, has a widely used app and website used to schedule various vaccinations, including those for COVID- 19. But there was a problemL It had a glitch that allowed customers to schedule appointments that were later canceled without explanation hours later.

The problem concerns the so-called disqualified answers. In other words, if a client says something that could interfere with their appointment (such as they are allergic to an ingredient in a vaccine or their previous shot was too recent, etc.), the application will pause the process. Instead, it accepts an ineligible answer, asks some more questions, and then displays that the appointment has been approved.

Hours later – in one example, it was the next day, the day the shooting was scheduled – it canceled the appointment with no specific explanation. Instead, it provides a list possible but do not give any reason, if any, apply. (In our testing attempts, none of that applied.)

CVS declined to discuss the glitch, including how it happened and what customers should do about it. The company sent out a statement that did not address the issue at all. (How exciting.) For the record, the entire statement reads: “Our team was able to quickly build a digital immunization scheduling experience on and through the App. use CVS. Developed with the end user in mind, we’ve adapted the scheduler to meet CDC’s changing recommendations throughout the pandemic and updated it regularly to ensure a seamless patient experience. our personnel. With guidance from the CDC and the Federal Government, our digital scheduling system uses self-validation to help lower barriers and improve access to immunizations. We have managed 59 million vaccines by 2021, with the majority successfully booked using our digital scheduling system. In the rare cases where an appointment is cancelled, a patient can reschedule it using a digital tool or by contacting their local group of pharmacists. “

What seems to be happening is that the system doesn’t look at the responses closely enough to decide if the appointment should be approved, but is somehow looking at the responses a few hours later. . From a programming perspective, this makes no sense. Answers are not open-ended questions where the user can write an answer. They have a wide selection, along with documentation to provide dates in their format.

Appointment blocking would be an understandable issue as soon as an immediate type reply was received.

The second problem is what happens when the system finds out the appointment was never approved. It sends a cancellation notice and encourage users to try the setup again. That’s the key. If the user doesn’t know why the appointment was cancelled, chances are they’ll make the mistake again and enter an endless loop.

Here’s the helpful message the CVS system sends: “We’re sorry we canceled your appointment(s). If you did not request this, we may have canceled due to weather conditions, a change in vaccine supply, or another issue affecting your pharmacy. We know this vaccination appointment is important to you and apologize for any concern or inconvenience. We are here to help you get your vaccine(s) as soon as possible. To reschedule, please visit our immunization scheduler to book your new appointment(s) or call 1-855-287-3456 (TTY: 711) to speak with an agent to find out. More information. ”

By the way, that referenced delegate doesn’t seem to have access to the reason the appointment was canceled, so it’s a more enjoyable waste of time.

All of this is starting to remind me of a Seinfeld episode in which Jerry pre-orders a rental car, but the agency gave it away anyway. In this case, CVS knows how to make an appointment, but not how to schedule an appointment.

After CVS media relations were unavailable to answer questions about the incident, I reached out to several other CVS people – including a former CVS senior executive who had met with problem, could not resolve the issue, gave up and scheduled an appointment. at Walmart.

It got worse. I tried calling the CVS pharmacy where the injection was scheduled to find out what was going on. The phone system asked if this was vaccine related. I screwed up and answered honestly – this sent me a call center with no info as to why it was cancelled. After begging to be connected to the store in question, they finally agreed – then transferred me to the wrong store.

I reviewed the whole process and they sent me to the wrong store again. For the third time, I selected the option for “are you calling from the doctor’s office?” (I was quickly deemed technically correct by driving to the doctor’s office and calling from the waiting room. But my laziness overvalued my honesty.)

After selecting the doctor option, I quickly contacted the relevant pharmacist, who discovered the problem: the calendar was two days too early. When I rescheduled with the new date, all went perfectly.

This clearly shows that the system – to some extent – understands the calendar problem. Why doesn’t it block the appointment as soon as it sees that reply? And when it’s not, why isn’t the cancellation notice specific so there’s no need to fight to talk to a pharmacist?

The weirdest factor was the delay between the error and the appointment cancellation. Is someone manually reviewing appointments? That seems unlikely. Then again, it’s very likely that the system won’t detect the error, and then somehow finds it hours later.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc. The CVS app malfunctioned causing – then canceling – vaccination appointments. And it got worse.

Fry Electronics Team

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