Eligible Victorians can now book in to receive the COVID-19 vaccination using a Microsoft online booking platform the state government purchased for nearly $6 million more than five months ago.
While the vaccine has been available to a range of Victorians for several months now, the only ways to book an appointment had been through a 1800 hotline or directly through GP clinics.
This is despite the Victorian government purchasing Microsoft’s Vaccination Registration and Administration Solutions platform in mid-January as part of a $5.8 million, six-month contract.
At the time, the state government said this platform only needed “fine-tuning” before it could be launched in Victoria.
But following the rollout of the vaccine to those in Phase 1B of the national timeline, and the recent outbreak in Victoria, it was still not in use.
Online booking systems have been in use in other Australian states for several weeks.
The Victorian government has said the online booking platform wasn’t previously a priority due to low levels of vaccines on offer and low demand for them prior to the recent outbreak and lockdown.
The Microsoft-based vaccine booking platform went live on Tuesday, with Victorians now able to use it to register to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Victorian government undertook a whirlwind five-day tender process late last year, before signing a contract with Microsoft for nearly $6 million in mid-January.
The deal involved the purchase of the tech giant’s existing vaccine booking system, which facilitates registration, scheduling of appointments, the automatic replenishment of supplies and the tracking and tracing of prescriptions and deliveries of vaccinations.
The platform can be used by individuals and healthcare providers, and will work alongside the federal government’s own booking platform, developed by HealthEngine as part of a contract worth nearly $4 million.
There has been an increase in demand for the COVID-19 vaccine in Victoria following the recent outbreak and the opening up of eligibility for anyone aged 40 years and older.
The Victorian government has brought in a number of large tech players to assist in its efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, often on lucrative contracts.
Last year the state government purchased an IBM platform for $4 million to assist with contact tracing, but it was scrapped within days after it was discovered to not have the artificial intelligence and predictive capabilities required.
The Victorian government has also implemented a new Salesforce CRM platform to lead its contact tracing efforts, with automated text messages to close contacts.
Consulting giant Boston Consulting Group was paid more than $11 million as part of the shift to this new tech giant, after Deloitte was paid $5 million to start this process. In February this year, a UK-based tech consultancy was paid a further $3.8 million for “ongoing support and development” of the Salesforce contact tracing platform.