Role of Technology and Temperature Monitoring in COVID-19 Vaccine Administration
The development and approval of the COVID-19 vaccines were met with wide-acclaim by people across the globe. However, the challenge of the COVID-19 does not end with the production of vaccines. The end of the pandemic lies in the successful administration of vaccination programs. This requires a complex web of coordination between governments, suppliers, hospitals, and pharmacies. Furthermore, the transportation of the vaccine itself involves a complicated process. Vaccines are time and temperature-sensitive, therefore vaccine temperature monitoring solutions deployed in the cold chain have become a priority.
Information Technology plays an integral role in ensuring the effective transportation and administration of COVID-19 vaccines. Using the right vaccine temperature monitoring technology improves patient access, widens reach, enhances connectivity, and ensures proper storage. In order to attain a holistic and inclusive recovery worldwide, it is vital to utilize all available resources to facilitate effective vaccination programs.
Due to the uncharted territory brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and the unfamiliarity of the public to the diseases, doctors and healthcare providers received a lot of inquiries with regard to vaccine eligibility or qualification. In order to facilitate the queries, proper communication with patients is essential.
One of the challenges brought by this pandemic is how to educate, inform, and encourage the population to undergo vaccination. Many of the public have fears and concerns with regard to the safety and merit of the vaccines. In order to bolster vaccination efforts, the active involvement of the government and healthcare providers is critical. The use of technology would be to amplify these efforts and messages. It will also be able to deliver specialized recommendations to individuals.
Keeping the public informed about the vaccine distribution status is key to maintaining trust. Due to this, many public organizations have launched public-facing dashboards. These dashboards have the ability to track available doses, a number of vaccinated residents, and other fundamental data points. Integration of vaccine temperature monitoring data to these dashboards is another feature that can aid public confidence.
To address communication concerns, contact center technologies that can be easily scaled for expansion are important. Their ability to accommodate dynamic communication needs is crucial in mitigating possible risks. These technologies offer HCOs, public health entities, call centers, and other communication initiatives that involve automation and artificial intelligence. Human intervention is then effectively minimized through the use of this advanced equipment.
With the onslaught of the pandemic, AI-based chatbot technology were heavily utilized to mitigate the spread of the virus. AI also enabled the delivery of responses to users who were seeking answers to their COVID-19 questions. Individuals who were identified as at-risk based on their answers were referred to a telehealth visit. Another recommendation was to undergo a COVID-19 test. This streamlined the screening process and allowed medical professionals to focus on delivering healthcare. Recently, new chatbot templates were released that allow for the screening of eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines. It also provides answers to related questions.
AI chatbot technology has proven itself a powerful tool in addressing specific questions and providing specialized suggestions to a large population. It has the ability to answer user questions and facilitate vaccine registration.
Pre-Registration and Phased Scheduling
Since COVID-19 vaccines are currently limited at the moment, they need to be sorted depending on the priority level. Several models to determine points of focus have been proposed, but adoption of these are subject to local interpretation. However, the constant factor among all countries is the need to move promptly and not waste time during the delivery. Large-scale campaigns regarding public awareness, prioritization, and pre-registration should be held. Individuals who pre-registered can then be notified via automated means once they have been determined eligible for vaccination.
Pre-registering involves the registration of individuals prior to them being deemed eligible. At the moment, COVID-19 vaccine registration and scheduling of individuals happen simultaneously. These two processes can be separated by enabling pre-registration to happen in advance. This can be done through the use of scheduling analytics. AI can be used in the pre-registration results to help identify which group requires immediate attention, their specific location, and the type of initiative that needs to be conducted.
One of the efforts currently being conducted is the Vaccine Credential Initiative. This union of public and private partners aims to give digital access of vaccination records to individuals, taking into account privacy-preserving standards. As per open industry standards of digital identity, a secure and scalable foundation for verification is required.
This verification can be in the form of certification that indicates individuals have already received the vaccine, a QR code can be used in lieu of traditional, paper-based documents. Patient privacy should be preserved at all times when using this electronic verification method. In order to be successful, these should be accepted universally as well. Health cards should be created with international open standards with interconnected infrastructures. Currently, several efforts are underway to align the various approaches for a decentralized health care infrastructure.
A decentralized digital identity hub is being developed by Microsoft. This can be used for the pre-registration process and as part of the future digital identity wallet. In addition, citizens will still have complete control of their data access, altogether preserving data security.
The number of individuals that need to be vaccinated per day needs to be considered in order to increase vaccination rates. Aside from that, the number of vaccines available, vaccine storage capabilities, number of staff, access to protective equipment, and size of the clinic need to be factored in as well. It is also important to make sure that rooms are uncrowded, patient lines are short, and that there is sufficient social distancing because of the new normal situation.
In order to increase efficiency, scheduling needs to be seriously taken into consideration. Automated reminders with appointment confirmations, scheduling blocks, rescheduling maneuvers, standby lists in case of cancellations, and wait-time reports are useful approaches that can be leveraged through the use of technologies. Microsoft has developed a Vaccine Registration and Administration Solution that can aid in throughput efficiency. El Paso has utilized this solution by establishing a public website where residents can register for the COVID-19 vaccine and make appointments. This enables better management of vaccine dosages, vaccination phases, and other logistical tasks.
Since COVID-19 vaccinations amass the entire global population, a thorough and efficient verification process needs to be in place. This will verify a patient’s age, occupation, and presence of high-risk conditions that may compromise the effectivity of the vaccine. If not conducted in advance, vaccine eligibility verification may serve as a bottleneck in the vaccination process. Pre-verification can be performed through automated or semi-automated means by matching credentials using established databases. It is important that access to these databases are secure and done so only by authorized personnel to ensure data privacy. In order to facilitate the auto-verification process, partnerships with public health agencies can be done since they have access to data sets of large populations.
It is essential for the venues of the COVID-19 vaccination programs to be able to accommodate the influx of people coming in for the vaccines. Since they would be large-scale vaccination programs, they would also require large venues as well. These sites need to operate 24/7 in order to respond to the vaccination demands promptly. However, the challenge lies on finding well-trained staff and organizing the process and infrastructure needed to deliver the COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccination sites should expand to include mobile units in churches, community centers, schools, and other local sites. This will ensure that the vulnerable and high-risk members of society are reached by the vaccines. In order to augment vaccination programs, the necessary IT infrastructure should be installed. This will enable systematic delivery of vaccines, accurate reporting, and effective process management.
Storage and Vaccine Temperature Monitoring
The transportation, storage, and temperature monitoring of vaccines is another challenge that surrounds the healthcare industry in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is known that COVID-19 vaccines are temperature sensitive and need stringent temperature controls. Due to this, they should be supported by the right equipment to ensure that the required vaccine temperatures are maintained throughout the process.
There are many solutions for vaccine cold-chain logistical issues. One example of this through the use of AKCP’s Central Monitoring Software that allows remote vaccine temperature monitoring of cold storage environment. AKCP provides centralized monitoring, graphing, and alerting that will enable effective vaccine cold chain transportation.
This technology of temperature monitoring is made possible through the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT will be able to integrate sensors, temperature monitors, and refrigerator units. This technological infrastructure will allow real-time tracking of various vehicles transporting the vaccines such as planes, trains, and trucks. Therefore, paving the way towards effective vaccination programs.
The vaccine administration strategies evolve and improve with each passing day. New methodologies for making work more efficient continue to be developed as well. It is crucial for these distribution and administration strategies to be supported by the necessary technology to actualize the vaccination programs. Providers should coordinate with trusted technology partners like AKCP, who possess the necessary experience in developing safe and secure IT infrastructures. Choosing the right technology partners and using the proper equipment will allow integrated solutions to efficiently implement vaccination programs and pave the way for holistic recovery.