Now that the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is well underway across the US, States across the nation are sharing some of the struggles and bottlenecks they have been facing while trying to stay on track with their immunization plan.
It’s no surprise that delivering shots to millions of Americans is a massive undertaking with many logistical challenges. From costs attributed to cold-storage and transport to supply scarcity, healthcare staff are working overtime to find solutions. However, when asked about bottlenecks and challenges, most states are pointing the finger in the same direction: software.
In our first news roundup, we outline the lessons learned from some states, frustrated with the software they implemented, while highlighting the success that others have had.
First stop: North Carolina. Here, the state decides where to send vaccine doses based on the data they receive from health workers in the field. However, the multi-million dollar system purchased by North Carolina is lagging and not updating in-real-time causing vaccine distributors to receive fewer doses than required. To make matters worse, the solution does not integrate with the state’s EHRs, schedule vaccinations, or support sending SMS reminders to patients. With the clock ticking and millions of doses left to administer, frustrations are boiling over.
The Biden administration has given itself the ambitious goal of administering 100 million vaccines in 100 days of his mandate. In order to do so, the CDC worked with a reputable consulting firm to create a software that would be an “easy-to-use, secure tool to manage vaccine administration.” $44 million dollars and a month later, 44 states still aren’t using the software. In fact, some of the States who adopted it, now want to drop it. Many users, both healthcare providers and patients, have reported frustrating experiences with the software, such as complicated sign-up forms (that are especially challenging for seniors), lack of customization in terms of fields to be implemented, and a lack of a Spanish language option. The CDC says it’s listening to feedback and working on fixes.
You might not have guessed it; known for its country roads, mountains and coal industry, West Virginia was predicted to struggle with vaccine rollout. However, they’ve successfully been able to administer 85% of the doses they received and have given more doses per capita than any other state! What is West Virginia doing right? It turns out that its small-town culture might be the reason. West Virginia decided not to rely on the federal government’s partnership with CVS and Walgreens (which can be inaccessible to a large part of the population), instead opting to let independent drugstores administer the vaccine. Those smaller drug stores were better positioned to provide operational and medical expertise. Much remains to be seen, but when talking about vaccine rollout, bigger might not be better.
One of the biggest obstacles to bringing the pandemic to an end is vaccine hesitancy and inaccessibility. In this Harvard Business Review article, experts argue better patient experience is vital for a successful vaccine rollout. The experience they describe at different stages of the vaccination process should inspire trust, maintain engagement, and encourage others to also get vaccinated. At the cornerstone of this mission lies great software. Automated messaging should keep patients informed of when they can expect to receive a follow up dose, or when their immunity starts to kick in. Efficient software can also help ace the vaccination, by minimizing wait times, improving the sign-up process, or even collecting patient feedback and data on how to improve the entire process.
Pomelo Health (formerly Chronometriq) was founded in 2012 with the sole purpose of improving access to healthcare. As one of the fastest growing software companies in healthcare management and patient engagement, Pomelo has helped healthcare providers and governments alike, achieve proven results.
Pomelo’s COVID-19 vaccination management solution includes online scheduling with multi-booking and automated reminders, virtual waiting room management and just-in-time notifications, digital proof of immunization and adverse reaction reporting.