eHealth Sask. facing pressure from growing proof of vaccination demand

eHealth Saskatchewan said it is facing its highest demand for its MySaskHealthRecord service since the start of the pandemic.

Vice President of Programs and Technology Davin Church said eHealth "sincerely apologizes" for the delays people have experienced in recent days while trying to sign up for the service that offers online access to medical records, including COVID-19 test results and proof of vaccination.

"Recent announcements from organizations and facilities requiring proof of vaccination has created more demand for proof of vaccine certificates," Church said. "As a result eHealth has had increased call volumes and people have been experiencing longer than normal wait times."

Barry Shefernack and his wife are two of those affected. They have been trying to access the website in order to get their COVID-19 test results.

Shefernack called the process frustrating.

“This is our what, third day of getting messages saying basically due to high demand, all our lines are busy, please call back," Shefernack said.

Church said the growing need for proof of vaccination at events, post-secondary institutions and some workplaces is driving its highest volume of calls since the start of the pandemic.

One issue many are facing is surrounding the need to get a pin by phone to complete the sign up process.

"What that does is it's an additional verification process to ensure that the individual that's registering for access to their health records is in fact that individual," Church said. "It really is just an enhanced security measure whereby by calling in there's some additional questions that are asked that aren't part of the original registration process."

eHealth has expanded its phone line to operate on the weekend to help address the demand.

"Certainly the numbers in call volumes and accesses to MySaskHealthRecord are higher than we had seen at any point previously during the pandemic," Church said. "We’re continuing to work on building our capacity, we are extending our internal capacity to answer those phone lines so in the next few days we should see a significant decline in that or that’s our hope."

Shefernack said the changes should have been implemented in advance instead of when the system became strained.

"They should clearly have known that thousands of people are going to need this information," Shefernack said.

In the month of August, around 60,000 people accessed their COVID-19 proof of vaccination on MySaskHealthRecord and eHealth is averaging more than 2,500 calls a day.