Vaccine Management Podcast Episode 1 - 3 ways to close the registration, scheduling, and resident engagement gap
Vaccine Management: Closing the Gap
Nick: Hello, I am Nick Demetriades. Thank you for joining us in the first episode our podcast – Vaccine Management: Closing the Gap
From supply issues and vaccine hesitancy to scheduling and registration failures, the national vaccination efforts are plagued by many problems.
Last week, Infosys Public Services’ President and CEO, Eric Paternoster joined Jeff Kavanaugh, Head of Infosys Knowledge Institute to discuss about COVID-19 Vaccine Management.
They talked about the setbacks, successes, and solutions to make COVID-19 vaccination program more effective. Link to their conversation is available in the show notes.
With the situation changing every other week, we wanted to keep the conversation going.
In this podcast, we interview Dr. Suman De. to discuss the state of vaccination efforts, the challenges that state & local governments are facing, and what should they do to meet, and even exceed, the president’s target of vaccinating 100 million people in 100 days.
Dr. Suman has been a member of the World Health Organization & a national government’s joint taskforce responsible for monitoring the distribution and administration of the polio vaccine. He currently Heads the Government Healthcare Solutions practice at Infosys Public Services.
Welcome, Dr. Suman.
Suman: Thanks, Nick.
Nick: Dr. Suman, what’s the situation with COVID19 vaccination efforts this week?
Suman: We all know about the logistics challenges. There is another obstacle that states are struggling to cross – pre-registration and appointment booking for their residents.
We have seen long lines of seniors waiting overnight in certain counties. There have been unmanaged queues. Registration sites remain confusing. There’s a long wait to access any helpline. And, in quite a few cases, the vaccine systems have broken down.
These are serious issues that expose problems at the most fundamental level, leading to major disruptions, and a slowdown in the rollout of vaccines across the nation.
Ability to scale to immunize tens of millions of people in phases 2 and 3 will be even harder and more challenging to manage.
Nick: It doesn’t look so good, does it. What are some of the things that states should do to navigate these challenges? Something that they can put into motion immediately.
The first is to make sure people know when they will get the vaccines, where they should go to get them and how to book their appointments: It’s not been easy for people to access the information that’s really relevant [for them]. The phased roll out and constantly changing guidelines have made things more confusing. There’s information overload in many cases and sometimes no information at all. States need to provide easy to understand vaccine FAQ in multiple languages, and through multiple channels like virtual assistants, portals, phones, texts etc. This can address patient apprehension & misinformation.
Put vaccine eligibility screening tools in the hands of the people. Ensure they have access to reliable information and clear call to action. This will reduce inbound calls to clinic staff and call centers.
The second is to make the vaccine registration and scheduling sites scalable & easy to navigate: Finding and booking a slot should be as easy as booking tickets for your favorite movie. The site should offer robust search and automated navigation for people who get stuck.
For the marginalized population, sitting on the other side of the digital divide, the simplest and the best way to schedule appointments would be to call, talk or text.
An intuitively designed, scalable registration and scheduling system, backed up by robocalls, voice assistants, chatbots, free texting, and available in multiple languages will be essential.
And, the final thing is to contextualize the engagement approach based on the people that are being targeted: What works in an urban, digitally-connected community will differ from what’s effective for a rural, digitally-constrained one.
State’s registration & scheduling systems should adapt.
They should be able to avoid and/or resolve overbooking. Real-time evaluation of demand can help optimize scheduling & waiting lines. Automated reminders through different channels like phone, emails etc. will help compliance with dosage requirements.
Nick: You talked about adaptability. I believe it will be critical for state and local agencies to pivot quickly according to new changes or requirements. How can state and local governments build these capabilities that you just mentioned? They don’t have enough time, do they?
Dr. Suman: Agencies don’t have to spend months developing these capabilities. They can extend their existing systems with targeted components or modules quickly to build these capabilities.
For example, Eric in his podcast talked about Infosys Vaccine Management solution. The solution is built on cloud, is modular and leverages latest digital technologies to support the areas that I just mentioned.
If an agency is struggling to schedule and register people for vaccines, they can deploy the solution’s scheduling module in two weeks or less and address all the issues in that area.
Nick: That’s good to know. It’ll be important for states to build these capabilities immediately. Otherwise the issues that we are seeing today will play out across the other phases and render all the efforts in developing vaccines at light-speed ineffective.
Thank you, Dr. Suman for joining us today and sharing your insights.
And, thank you, listeners. Hope you found the discussion interesting. Stay tuned as we cover the state of COVID19 vaccination efforts every two weeks & provide practical insights for states to execute their COVID19 vaccination program safely & effectively.
If you have any feedback or would like us to cover any specific areas, please drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bye for now.