Microsoft Vaccine Scheduling Software Deal Ended By Iowa

Iowa is backing out of a plan to use Microsoft Corp. software for registering patients and scheduling Covid-19 vaccinations, the latest challenge to the software giant’s efforts to make money helping states overwhelmed with residents looking for shots.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced the change of heart at a news conference Wednesday, saying state officials concluded it would be too hard to combine existing scheduling systems and were trying to avoid disruptions. The state will instead focus on bolstering its current systems. Just last week, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and members of his administration complained about significant glitches in that state’s Microsoft-built vaccination scheduling system. 

“After learning more about the breadth of Microsoft's solution and reviewing the challenges faced by some other states in their rollouts, and speaking with our vaccine partners, we have made the determination not to move forward with the contract," Reynolds said. "It quickly became apparent that integrating the many already existing registration and  scheduling platforms that are used by some of our public health departments, pharmacies, as well as other vaccine providers, it would not be possible in a timely manner without significant disruption to their current systems and we did not want to slow down the progress that we're making."

In New Jersey, the system had yet to work correctly after five weeks,  two administration officials who asked not to be identified said last week. That was a high-profile stumble for Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, which is trying to build a big business by selling software to run hospitals and health care systems and has been touting its ability to aid the nationwide effort to inoculate residents against the coronavirus. 

“We remain focused on helping governments manage their Covid-19 vaccination programs as quickly, safely and efficiently as possible,” Microsoft said in an emailed statement.

Iowa had said last week it would use Microsoft’s tools for the vaccine rollout. The Microsoft system was expected to provide Iowans with a registration system allowing eligible residents to schedule vaccination appointments with approved providers. The state expanded vaccine eligibility to certain Iowans 65 years old or older on Feb. 3.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Iowa was 47th among states ranked by the percentage of state residents receiving vaccine. Reynolds announced Wednesday that Iowa had improved its vaccination penetration rate and now ranks 22nd among U.S. states.

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