Million dollar vaccination hotline of the federal government overloaded
Stand: 00:04 a.m. | Reading time: 3 minutes
The Ministry of Health spends millions on call centers to organize corona vaccinations. But although the big rush is still expected, callers have to wait a long time.
Dhe Federal Ministry of Health is now using the number 116 117, which was previously reserved for the medical on-call service, as a corona vaccination hotline. According to research by WELT AM SONNTAG, the ministry expects up to 500,000 calls per week at peak times at the beginning of the year. These are to be answered and processed around the clock with the help of call centers with up to 2500 employees.
However, there are currently some problems with longer waiting times. We are currently intensively investigating the “very serious indications of overloading the hotline,” said a ministry spokesman when asked by WELT AM SONNTAG. Initial findings indicated technical reasons. For example, the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Health reported waiting times of well over ten minutes.
The operation of the call center will initially cost 50.64 million euros. This emerges from a subsequent publication by the Federal Ministry of Health. Accordingly, a German subsidiary of the world’s leading British advertising agency WPP has received the order. As a general contractor, the Frankfurt-based gkk Digital Group is to place sub-orders with call centers and provide the necessary technology.
From the Federal Ministry of Health it is said: It is an interim award in order to ensure the operation of the hotline until an award is made in a Europe-wide award initiated in parallel. This could happen in mid-March. The more than 50 million euros secured the operation of the hotline even if the upcoming bid should be delayed.
When placing the order for the hotline, the Ministry of Health admits that action had to be taken quickly. It is necessary for citizens to have an easy way to get their Corona questions answered “quickly, reliably and professionally”. Literally: “This is the only way to prevent people looking for information from being negatively influenced by inappropriate or interest-based offers in advance of the vaccination.”
Capacity is being increased
According to the ministry, call centers with around 1,100 employees have been in operation since December 21, which could process up to 200,000 inquiries per week. “The utilization rate is currently a little over 60 percent,” the ministry said. From January 8, the maximum capacity will gradually be increased to 500,000 calls a week. This means that there are criticisms of long waiting times despite the currently still moderate occupancy.
Managing the establishment of the necessary hotline capacities is a major challenge for the Frankfurt-based gkk Digital Group. The tender documents show that in addition to the technical networking, a database with answers to the many questions to be expected must be created and stored. The Federal Ministry of Health is developing these together with the Robert Koch Institute and the Paul Ehrlich Institute.
So far, the gkk Digital Group had not received any orders from the Federal Ministry of Health as part of the Corona information campaign.
If the gkk Digital Group also wins the bid in the European hotline award procedure, the contract would be extended by a further four and a half months to then six and a half months beyond mid-2021. The gkk Digital Group did not comment on request.
This text is from WELT AM SONNTAG. We will be happy to deliver them to your home on a regular basis.