The Covid-19 vaccine rollout has encountered significant challenges across the country. The incredibly complex task of ensuring every single American who wants the vaccine can get it has been stalled by issues ranging from storage malfunctions to weather delays to poor planning to lagging technology. These supply-side challenges have been exacerbated by the need to allocate limited resources across a massive unmet demand.
It has never been more timely to remind government entities that technology that can make a real difference for vaccine distribution already exists. The insights and workflows currently afforded by care management can further optimize access to the Covid-19 vaccine while supporting adherence to ensure individuals receive the full required dosage.
Traditionally, care management technology has been utilized by health insurance companies. However, its tremendous benefits are being increasingly understood by providers and Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) on the front lines of the vaccine distribution effort. Care management technology has the infrastructure in place to rapidly identify and stratify the most vulnerable patients, looking at risk factors as diverse as age, underlying conditions, geography, and profession. These automated protocols can take the burden off providers and health officials trying to manage the difficult process of determining who should be first in line for something that is needed by hundreds of millions of people.
The granular population data tracked by care management solutions can help determine vulnerability levels by area, pinpointing locations and individuals at highest risk. In turn, this can help establish equitable distribution by determining where to set up vaccine clinics to reach the most recipients, and then identify who among them meet regional criteria for eligibility. At the same time, these technologies can provide a more accurate picture of how many doses are needed in each area, helping to optimize supply chains and ease the shortages we have experienced across the nation.
At the consumer level, care management has the power to reduce the burden on those who are less technologically-adept, and individuals who do not have access to technology in the first place. We have seen that our most vulnerable individuals – the elderly and the disadvantaged – are shut out from sign-up systems that all but mandate access to and knowledge of technology in order to be successful at securing a vaccine. Instead of relying on people to sift through pages of information to determine their respective eligibility tiers, their nearest vaccination site, and directions for how to actually book an appointment, care management technology can automate this process. It can enable qualified personnel to proactively reach out to eligible individuals with clear, simple instructions and assist them in navigating the process of signing up, finding transportation, and following up to schedule a second dose within the required timeframe.
With widespread vaccine shortages alongside continuing deaths from Covid-19, we must act now to leverage existing technology in order to improve the distribution process. With vaccine makers doing their part to ramp up production, as health care leaders we need to do our part to assist with an optimal rollout. This is not about placing blame or looking backward, rather it is about exploring as many avenues as possible to get back on track. Ultimately, the insights that care management technology provides can be a huge asset to this effort – we must not leave that possibility unexplored.
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