“The first day of vaccinations, we had cheers, we had tears, a little bit of everything.”Melinda Joyce
Vice President, Med Center Health
The last few weeks have offered the country new hope as the first shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine arrived at hospitals, health systems, and medical providers. Though initial shipments are limited and designated for hospital staff and healthcare workers, distribution is no small operation. Because there are specific requirements around how to store the vaccine, not all organizations can receive it at this time, leaving “hubs” in certain communities to vaccinate their own employees and employees at other organizations. For some systems, they’re the vaccine destination for several counties surrounding their own.
Relatient customers, like Warren Clinic in Oklahoma (part of Saint Francis Health System) and Med Center Health in Kentucky, acted quickly to organize their communication plans and leverage their patient messaging tools to get information to those who need it, saving time and reducing the risk of no-shows and confusion.
“It’s really important that people who are scheduled show up, you have this precious dose that once it’s been mixed with saline and is ready to inject, is only good for six hours. So having people scheduled that don’t present creates a waste problem.”Collin Henry
Vice President, Warren Clinic, Saint Francis Health System
Warren Clinic is streamlining the vaccination process by automatically scheduling patients and employees for a second appointment 21 days after the first dose is administered. Henry says they started planning early, building out the appointment workflows and triggers in Epic and connecting them to Relatient’s appointment reminders to ensure doses don’t go unused. Henry also talked about their collaboration with other local organizations and health departments, “Because the health department is using our Epic set up, they’re also able to utilize our setup with Relatient’s reminders.”
Over the next couple of months, as the FDA approves vaccines from additional vendors and production of the vaccine increases, distribution will expand to the general population and more organizations will be able to store and distribute the vaccine. Relatient customers that have yet to receive the vaccine are starting to plan now for how they’ll communicate with their patients when they do receive it, ensuring minimal no-shows and a process patients can navigate with ease. And according to leadership at organizations like Med Center Health and Warren Clinic, planning ahead is key to a successful vaccination program.
Melinda Joyce, Vice President for Med Center Health said, “We started planning back in November because we didn’t want to find ourselves with vaccines and no plan. One of the things you worry about is that someone gets the first dose and thinks, ‘I’m good, I don’t need the second one.’ You clearly don’t want that so being able to use technology to help get people back in for the second dose is really important.”
Here’s how Relatient is partnering with medical providers to help in the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine:
Broad communication via on-demand messaging. When it comes to getting critical information about the vaccine to a large group of patients, including staff members or a specified list of recipients, customers are using Relatient Broadcast Messenger to send this information quickly and efficiently.
COVID-19 configured appointment reminders. Relatient customers are leveraging appointment reminders in a specific COVID-19 configuration to ensure minimal no-shows, confusion, and wasted time. It’s no secret that doses of the COVID-19 are precious commodities, so it’s more important than ever that scheduled patients arrive for their appointments. But appointment reminders configured by specific departments and appointment types also help staff keep patients organized and make it easier to track which manufacturer’s vaccine they’ve been given and which dose.
Some healthcare organizations have established a new department dedicated to the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, this serves as a generic “provider”. This also allows them to specifically keep track of the flow through the vaccination process. Within the COVID-19 department, appointment types are created specific to the manufacturer and dose of the vaccine, allowing for specific messaging and tracking of the appointment.
Other Relatient customers are operating a more decentralized vaccination model and have created the specific appointment types by existing provider locations instead of creating a designated department. Both scenarios work well to notify patients of their appointments, give them easy options if they need to make a change, and save staff time and effort helping patients navigate the process.
In either situation, healthcare providers are opting for primarily text reminders because they are quick, efficient, yield the highest response rate, and are intuitive to nearly every patient demographic. Response time is particularly important with COVID-19 vaccine appointments because the time between scheduling and the appointment itself is likely to be much shorter than most appointments.