The COVID-19 Vaccine: 4 Considerations for Health Systems



With healthcare workers and nursing home residents across the country already receiving the COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna and Pfizer, health systems are scaling up processes to prepare for the upcoming mass vaccination of the rest of the U.S. population. While it’s estimated that total investment in a vaccine rollout could cost an incremental $10 billion, the economic and life-saving benefits of widespread vaccine adoptions will be magnitudes higher. 

Without proper processes and tools in place, vaccination distribution could be fraught with slowdowns, increased costs, and patient resistance. As health systems look forward to vaccinations in 2021 and beyond, four important considerations must be addressed with digital solutions to ensure a safe, effective rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

1. How can COVID-19 vaccine data be shared?

While the U.S. is still in the early stages of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution, the need for health systems, payers, providers, and local and state governments to have a shared vaccine data system is increasingly apparent. Health systems and providers need a way to track patient’s COVID-19 tests before administering the vaccine. Payers need a comprehensive view of members in their network who have received a vaccine, and local and state governments require data to manage the safe, effective rollout of vaccines. 

With so many different players, digital is the only way to effectively manage and share data across organizations. Even without a nationwide shared data system, payers, providers, and state governments can collaborate on a local level to implement a shared data management system. Many electronic health records (EHRs) have rolled out COVID-19 data tracking solutions, or low-code solutions using APIs that can be built and implemented in days or weeks, enabling vaccine stakeholders to quickly share essential data.

2. How can health systems ensure equitable vaccine distribution in their community?

COVID-19 has hit low-income and minority communities the hardest. A survey of predominantly black U.S. counties showed a COVID-19 infection rate three times higher and a death rate six times higher than white communities. Health systems must ensure this disparity does not persist when distributing and administering vaccines.  

While leaders at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced they are considering holding 10% of the vaccine for “hot spots” identified using the Social Vulnerability Index, more work must be done at a local level to ensure vaccine adoption by the community. Communities, health systems, or states can adopt digital patient-facing solutions to aid in vaccine education, like websites, apps, or chatbots. Digital tools can also be used to reach patients at scale, sending vaccine reminders through phone and SMS to members of the community.

3. How can health systems offer a seamless vaccination experience to patients?

Data sharing, education, and patient-facing digital solutions must come together to create a seamless vaccination experience for patients. Without these features in place, patients could face unnecessary obstacles to getting vaccinated. They may be required to fill out additional paperwork or show proof of a negative COVID test, despite having previously presented that information to a health system. 

To ensure a smooth, low-effort experience for patients, health systems must implement digital front door solutions. These digital components allow patients to search for nearby vaccine locations, complete paperwork online in advance of their appointment, check in remotely, and receive texts or push notifications when it’s time for the second vaccine dose. On the backend, health systems can store data for future use, including the patient’s testing and vaccine records and preferred methods of communication, to further improve the patient experience in subsequent appointments. 

4. How can health systems encourage vaccine adaption with skeptical patients?

A recent McKinsey poll found 63% of U.S. citizens polled are cautious about or unlikely to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Without strong vaccine messaging from the federal government, much of the impetus falls on health systems and local communities to educate and promote vaccine adoption. 

The digital solutions listed above that support vaccine data sharing, enhanced education and outreach, and a seamless patient experience must all come together to minimize barriers that vaccine skeptics face. Patients must have easy access to accurate, fact-based information about the vaccine and avoid barriers during the administrative process that would deter them from following through with shots. Health systems, payers, providers, and government must come together to create a persuasive vaccination experience for all. 

Digital solutions and the COVID-19 vaccine

Implementing new digital solutions or enhancing existing solutions is essential for health systems working to distribute and administer the COVID-19 vaccine. AVIA is here to help you get your vaccine digital solutions vetted, implemented, and running as quickly as possible. Contact our experts today to learn more about what a partnership with AVIA means for your patients and community.