Three Hurdles Healthcare Providers Must Overcome to Quickly Build an Efficient COVID-19 Vaccination System
Following the FDA’s approval of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for emergency use, healthcare providers are looking at the logistical requirements behind a mass vaccination system — with few points of reference as to how to prepare.
Because COVID-19 vaccination administration is happening in designated waves and at such magnitude, there are several unique factors that healthcare systems, primary care providers, community health centers and FQHCs must consider: assessing capacity, balancing supply and demand, and ensuring staff safety, to name a few.
To meet these requirements, providers should be focusing on the clinical and operational aspects, like setting up multi-appointment scheduling, integrating vaccination site referral systems, and communicating with patients about when, where and what they need to do when it comes to getting vaccinated. While these will differ by care model, the concepts are the same for every provider.
When designing a process for administering COVID vaccines, there are three main hurdles healthcare providers will need to consider: patient volume, safety, and vaccine protocol standards. While there are more mountains than molehills, existing technology can help with each of these challenges:
Hurdle #1: Finding a High-Volume Appointment Scheduling System
Some healthcare providers will have to coordinate tens of thousands of appointments a day, and with patient adherence to the booster dose adding extra pressure, providers will need a high velocity, low staff overhead system that relieves intake’s administrative burden and keeps call volumes under control.
To make the scheduling, administration, and follow-up manageable, vaccine centers can facilitate patient self-scheduling and screening processes that verify vaccine eligibility. Additionally, they’ll need to think about a waiting room system that facilitates social distancing (and reduces top waiting room pain points).
Finally, they’ll also need a robust communication and reminder system that reduces no-show rates and ensures patients receive their booster shot.
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A patient messaging solution that can share the right information with the right patients at the right time is essential during COVID-19 vaccinations. Providers must be able to communicate the who, what, why, where, and how to get vaccinations to patients en masse, while tailoring the message to patient populations.
Vaccine eligibility verification screening technology that asks patients questions to determine whether or not individuals are currently eligible for the vaccination, followed by messaging that communicates next steps — whether that means telling the patient where to go to get vaccinated, or when they will become eligible, and how to book a vaccination at that time.
An automated, HIPAA-compliant patient engagement platform to improve patient adherence for the booster vaccine.
A remote patient outreach system that follows best practices for tracking patient reactions or health issues post-vaccine.
Hurdle #2: Managing the Logistics of Mass COVID-19 Vaccinations
Where possible, waiting rooms and immunizations will move curbside, much as they did with the COVID testing system. Providers can seamlessly administer vaccinations with our Patient Scheduling and Mobile Patient Intake products, which includes Zero Contact Check-In.
To facilitate mass vaccinations, some healthcare providers are administering drive-thru vaccines, an innovative model that patients desire. In fact, almost half of all patients (47%) say they are interested in receiving immunizations curbside, according to our State of Healthcare Report.
Prompting patients to do as much as they can on their mobiles should be a big consideration (vs. having all patients touch the same iPad). Distributing customized, direct-to-device check-ins, issuing COVID-specific digital screening forms, and automating text notifications will make it possible for all patients to remain safely in their cars during vaccinations.
Hurdle #3: Addressing the Bumps in the Road (Without Slowing Down)
When offering a new service or changing how patients know things to be done, providers face a communication challenge that sounds simple, but isn’t: letting people know about it.
Because different patients get their information in different ways, COVID-19 vaccine providers will find themselves devoting a lot of time to answering the same questions over and over once vaccinations have begun. When they start, some providers will need to spend time referring patients to the right vaccination sites.
When the vaccine becomes available to the wider population, smaller offices like primary care practices will have to divert resources to resolve the unexpected ‒ and inevitable ‒ snags. One way healthcare providers can cut down on time-consuming surprises is to start before the doses are at their door.
Testing a vaccination education and administration system with patients seeking the flu shot will offer a sense of the experience on a smaller scale, and will help vaccination centers and other healthcare organizations get an idea of what to expect before a mass vaccination system begins in earnest.
If you’re looking for tools that will make your COVID-19 vaccination administration system a breeze, check out our library of COVID 19 solutions for PCPs, clinics, community healthcare centers, and healthcare systems.
RECOVERING FINANCIALLY FROM COVID-19
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