Iowa ends Microsoft vaccine scheduling software deal

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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.

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.

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.

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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