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North Kansas City Hospital leverages Cerner technology to expedite COVID-19 vaccine distribution

by Cerner Corporation

Published on 5/5/2021
As COVID-19 vaccinations are administered across the world, communities are hosting mass vaccination events to help gain control of the pandemic. North Kansas City Hospital staff worked with Clay County Public Health Center, Liberty Hospital and Cerner Corporation to form Operation Safe, one of Missouri’s designated high throughput vaccination providers. As the coalition’s goal was to vaccinate as many people as possible, efficiency was critical, so the organizations turned to Cerner Mass Vaccination solution (Mass Vacc) to help expedite the process. Over a few short weeks, Operation Safe went from just an idea to over 90,000 vaccinations administered.
 
“We knew the success of the clinic would be dependent on our advanced technology, pharmacists and supplies,” said Stephen Reintjes Sr., MD, president and CEO, North Kansas City Hospital. “With Cerner’s state-of-the-art facility (conveniently located across the street from the hospital) and their expertise, we stood up Operation Safe on very short notice.” 
 
When patients registered online to receive a vaccine, Cerner’s application programming interface (API) added the patient to Cerner Millennium® and scheduled the appointment. When patients arrived for their appointments, staff greeted them and verified the appointment using Cerner Kiosk, which provides a fast and easy workflow on an iPad.  
  
As part of the vaccination administration process, the clinician uses Cerner’s Mass Vaccination Administrative Worklist to verify patient allergies, screen for vaccination safety, and document the vaccine administration either manually or with a barcode medication scanner. Once administration is complete, automated system integration reports it to the state health department’s immunization registry in near real-time, which proved to be beneficial as speed and efficiency helped determine supply for future vaccine shipments. When it is time to schedule the second dose, the list of eligible patients is extracted from Cerner and loaded into the scheduling solution.  
 
“Mass Vaccination offers a tremendously streamlined workflow that allowed us to operationalize quickly,” said Todd Beardman, MD, chief medical information officer, North Kansas City Hospital. “Each week that we leveraged the process, we gained efficiency. I don’t believe we could have achieved our desired throughput without this tool.” 
 
After the patients received their vaccines, volunteers directed them to a recovery room for a 15- or 30-minute observation period. Patients submitted their registration papers before they left, which effectively “discharged” them in Millennium. If patients used the complimentary valet parking service, staff or volunteers retrieved the information on a work list set up within the Cerner system, and called the valet to retrieve their cars. This prevented patients from waiting outside in the cold. 
 
From valet parking to check-in and vaccination administration all within 10 minutes, and a 15-minute recovery time, patients were in and out in an average of 25 minutes.1 
 
“I don't think any one of us could have done this by ourselves,” said Dr. Beardman. “We needed the expertise of everyone in the room, including the space, technology and people of Cerner, who used the workflow we developed in North Kansas City Hospital. We needed our EMS, Fire and Police Departments, our partners at Liberty Hospital and all the volunteers from every organization, including the city municipalities. It's been a huge effort.” 
 
“In a short span of time, we have worked together to pull off something incredible that benefits our community, our families and our loved ones. It's special to be a part of that,” he said. 
 
As of April 26, 2021, Operation Safe administered more than 90,000 vaccinations, with throughput of approximately 70 patients every 10 minutes.  
 
“We brought in incredibly talented and committed people,” Dr. Reintjes said. “I told Cerner Chairman and CEO Brent Shafer personally, one of the things about the Cerner associates that impressed me so much is they brought professionalism and happiness to the task. We are in the business of taking care of people, and we do that every day. But to see Cerner associates roll up their sleeves, work shoulder to shoulder with the North Kansas City Hospital folks inspired me.” 
 
“For 10 months, we played defense, fighting the fight, and people came to our doors sick and dying,” he said. “Now we are fighting back. We can deliver hope to people around us. We're all in this together.” 
 

1 Calculated by tracking four patients with a stopwatch and averaging their results.