BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — A glitch in the BruHealth app last week caused overbookings at all vaccination sites, forcing the health ministry to reschedule 4,000 COVID-19 vaccine appointments.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Acting Director Healthcare Technology Department Rudy Hj Harun apologised for system errors that led to the overbooking of vaccine appointments.

He said the wrong operating hours were configured for a vaccination centre and another vaccination site opened more slots than intended.

“I know a lot of people are trying to get slots and they immediately booked them when they saw the available slots, but in reality there were no slots,” he said.

The acting director said 4,000 people reserved their slots within a few hours of the glitch, but their appointments are now moved to October.

There is a sense of urgency to get inoculated as Brunei battles its worst outbreak that saw its healthcare system stretched beyond its capacity.

Brunei has recorded 1,430 coronavirus cases in over two weeks, prompting authorities to maintain COVID-19 restrictions until September 4 in an effort to slow down the infection rate.

Despite the glitch, Rudy is confident that the BruHealth system would be able to cope with the increasing demand for vaccination as the health ministry aims to push the daily vaccination rate to 10,000.

“To be honest with you, the journey has not been as smooth as we had envisioned. We have learned several key lessons along the way and in my opinion, the system will be able to cope.

“We just need to make sure that system glitches don’t happen again. We are taking steps to make sure that it doesn’t happen again,” he added.

A woman receives a dose of the Moderna vaccine. Photo: Rudolf Portillo/The Scoop

On Friday, the BruHealth app introduced a new feature to facilitate confirmation of slot reservations.

Anyone who has booked a COVID-19 vaccination slot must ensure they have received a reservation confirmation via SMS, which is generated by BruHIMS or a QR code notification through the BruHealth app.

“We found out that a lot of people did not update their phone numbers in BruHIMS. That is why we need to have both SMS and QR code notification for confirmation,” he said. 

BruHIMS is the government’s centralised healthcare management system for patients.

In a statement issued on Friday, the health ministry said reservations are not confirmed if the public did not receive a QR code in the BruHealth app.

However, appointments are confirmed if an individual received an SMS despite not getting a QR code. Individuals can expect to receive their QR code 24 hours before their scheduled date.

Asked whether health personnel will scan the QR code before the public can get their jabs, Rudy said the BruHealth feature is still being developed.

“To be honest, when we were developing the app, there were a lot of things that we wanted to do.

“Unfortunately, resources are a little bit stretched and we have to [deploy] manpower to deal with more urgent [matters],” he added.