With COVID-19 vaccines finally released, healthcare is now slowly shifting to the mindset of how best to administer doses to frontline workers and those at highest risk. Normally, this wouldn’t be AS big a shock to our health system as we’re seeing now, however, there are new variables to consider. These vaccines require multiple doses split weeks apart AND have very specific storage instructions in order to be effective, meaning the COVID vaccination program is going to require quite a bit of careful planning and data management to pull off effectively.

Many care facilities are beginning to understand that an effective vaccination program will require a streamlined approach to what has been referred to in many circles as “the last mile” — or the final stages of a vaccination program where doses are actually injected into patients’ arms. And gearing up to optimize this part of the vaccination program now can mean attaining herd immunity much faster. In fact, some experts even predict that herd immunity can be attained this year if proper patient engagement and last mile preparedness are brought to the forefront today.

So how can this be done with a healthy combination of hardware such as medical grade computers and patient outreach programs?    

Explore Your EHR’s Capabilities

Providers aren’t the only ones who have begun to realize the importance of vaccination program prep. Plenty of EHR vendors have also already begun preparing their solutions in order to aid their partners. Cerner, for example, began partnering with the CDC back in October, allowing them to draw data from federal and state registries and make documenting vaccine administration easier for the end user.

Greenway Health also took a similar approach, opening up capabilities to communicate with state immunization registries to help physicians more closely track who has received doses and, if so, how many. 

Preparations like these have been occurring at the industry-wide level and these two examples are hardly special exceptions. It’s very likely your EHR solution has already begun implementing or is planning to implement solutions such as these. Getting into contact with your EHR providers now and learning what they have in the woodworks can help you be better prepared on the software side of things when vaccinations become more readily available.

Employ Texting Solutions

EHRs are doing their part, that’s for sure. But communication with patients needs to be optimized as well to ensure:

  • A.) Physicians are aware of any adverse reactions those who have received a vaccine experience.
  • B.) Both physicians and patients are aware of exactly when the next dose is required.

While many may immediately turn to the patient portal for these kinds of communications, we’ve mentioned in a previous post just how cluttered these patient portals have become in recent times. Patients are reaching out to their providers more than ever before and the last thing we need is to further clutter this particular avenue of outreach. 

Thankfully, many have started to implement texting programs and are starting to see merit in their adoption for vaccine adherence. HIPPA compliant texting can give providers the opportunity to reach out to patients directly on their phones — a communication method patients are much more likely to actually use and see.

This results in two benefits: patients are more likely to see texting communications and reminders, and physicians are more likely to remember to send these reminders because their primary means of communication, the patient portal, isn’t being overburdened.

Consider Chatbots

The first priority for any vaccination program is to safely get doses into patients’ arms. And while addressing patients’ questions and concerns is surely a priority as well, when bandwidth is limited, physicians may not be on hand to answer the same questions over and over again. Enter chatbots.

Healthcare chatbots have seen a large-scale boost in adoption due to their ability to blend empathy with automated patient education. And now we see another perfect time for its implementation. Common concerns over vaccine efficacy, dosage spacing, and possible side effects can be triaged over to a chatbot that can answer these questions without requiring time and input from a likely very very busy care provider. These solutions can even be used to automate appointment scheduling and form completion, opening up even more time for nurses and physicians.

Healthcare chatbot use cases can even be expanded in order to function as data consolidation tools, giving a facility the ability to share carefully curated data on vaccine reactions in the early phases of wide-spread dose distribution.

Streamline Sign-Ons For a Quicker Vaccination Program

Streamlining sign ons onto EHRs and patient communication apparatuses serves a dual purpose. On on end, medical cart computers that are outfitted with RFID scanning can make logging in as quick and as simple as scanning a badge, saving time and lowering the odds of experiencing EHR burnout during a time where staff is already stretched thin.

And on the other end, these same workstations also bolster cybersecurity by meticulously confirming the identity of all staff members seeking to gain access to patient data and vaccination records. With biometric readers and CaC readers used in conjunction with RFID scanning, medical tablets and computers can even further empower cyberdefense efforts by way of multifactor authentication. 

Cybersecurity, if it wasn’t already, is sure to become even more top of mind as vaccine supply chains have proven to be incredibly lucrative attack targets for criminals looking to make a handsome ransom. 

The Vaccination Program is Coming. Be Prepared.

As scary as the future can look now that we’re dealing with a vaccine program such as this, there’s some silver lining to be observed. We’re seeing a near unprecedented level of collaboration between med device and EHR providers and caregivers. Looking to the near future and beyond, this collaboration bodes well for the industry as a whole! Of course, capitalizing on these benefits means having the right hardware and tech infrastructure. For more information on how to start building out that infrastructure, contact an expert from Cybernet today.