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Supporting the COVID-19 vaccination process with technology and data

Estimated read time: 5 minutes

by Cerner Corporation

Published on 4/20/2021

Managing and distributing the COVID-19 vaccine is one of the largest and most complex challenges facing healthcare today. Providers are optimizing technology and using data to anticipate and overcome operational and clinical hurdles. In this blog, we explore the ways digital tools can help make the vaccine distribution process more patient-centered, effective, efficient and safe from start to finish.

Vaccine inventory and event management

It has been widely understood that getting as many people vaccinated, as quickly and as safely as possible, is key to slowing down the COVID-19 pandemic. As hospitals and health systems around the world set up large-scale events to inoculate their workforces and communities, digital tools are helping to streamline the process.

The Cerner Mass Vaccination (Mass Vacc) solution is helping 175 organizations, such as Boston Children’s Hospital, the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Coast Guard, Northern Light Health in Brewer, Maine, Cook County Health in Chicago, Truman Medical Centers/University Health (TMC/UH) in Kansas City, Missouri, and Milton Keynes University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in the U.K. deploy and track thousands of vaccinations a day. With this technology, clinicians can register patients when they arrive for the vaccine and easily capture important information like allergies and drug interactions within the electronic health record (EHR).

Vaccination events require an abundance of clinical staff, and some health organizations are already dealing with unique staffing challenges due to COVID-19. Transferring staff or hiring additional personnel may be needed to adequately meet the demand. Workload forecasting solutions like Clairvia® can use clinically driven data to predict workforce management needs and ensure that the right caregivers are in the right place, at the right time. The resource reports available within Clairvia help administrators quickly identify who is working and where they are working to better address staffing complexities.

“We looked to Cerner as our partner for the technology to support our people and processes. We asked how they could help respond and take care of our own. Cerner responded, ‘We’re right there with you, we've got a workflow and will work together to develop a mass vaccine strategy.’” – April Giard, DNP, MSN, NP-BC, NEA-BC, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Northern Light Health

Post vaccination follow-up and billing

As we all know, the vaccination process doesn’t simply end with the shot. Hospitals and health systems must follow up with patients regarding second doses and possible side effects. They must also bill for their community vaccination efforts.

Mass Vacc enables providers to quickly and easily document and discretely report any symptoms or reactions a patient may experience post-vaccination. Providers can send messages to patients through the HealtheLifeSM portal to communicate information around symptoms, second dose reminders, proof of vaccination, etc. Other clinical documentation and reporting tools like Discern Analytics®, HealtheAnalyticsSM dashboards, and Dynamic Worklist ─ which provides real-time user-driven reporting ─ help clinicians track who’s been vaccinated and how many doses they’ve had.

Cerner has implemented a new vaccine rule within the EHR, originally developed by University of Missouri (MU) Health Care in Columbia, Missouri, that automatically charges a patient’s encounter when a vaccine is administered. Taking out this manual step can save valuable time for nurses.

Consumer access to vaccination records

Patients need easy access to their vaccination record to safely engage in activities like travel and in-person work. While people are now given paper copies at the time of vaccine administration, electronic credentials are a more convenient and reliable option for many. Cerner is joining other industry leaders in the development of a secure digital COVID-19 vaccine passport, which would allow people to keep an encrypted copy of their vaccination record on their mobile device or provide a QR code for those without access to smartphones.

Also, within the HealtheLife portal, patients will have access to their vaccination records.

Analytics and reporting

Healthcare organizations are collecting comprehensive data on things like who has been vaccinated, wasted doses, second dose follow-ups, adverse reactions and supply levels. These data elements often must be documented and reported to public health agencies and immunization registries.

The Cerner Millennium® EHR is optimized to capture critical codes and discrete data elements around vaccinations within the workflow, allowing for seamless analytics and reporting.

To increase the open and secure flow of vaccine data, organizations such as MU Health Care and TMC/UH are leveraging the Cerner Immunization Hub to send and receive vaccine information at the state level.

Patients are seeking vaccine doses from many different sites, and this can make tracking disparate vaccination data outside the organization difficult for health systems. To manage the care of their patient population more comprehensively, health systems are relying on dashboards that bring in multiple datapoints. Cerner has created dashboards that take into consideration multiple EHRs and claims data within the HealtheAnalytics tool. These dashboards help organizations identify which patients have tested positive for COVID-19, who has been vaccinated, as well as other demographics, including geospatial analytics.

Community partnerships and patient engagement

Community partnerships have proven to be essential in combatting COVID-19 from mitigating risks, standing up testing sites and building public confidence in the vaccine to reaching high-risk populations and reducing disparities.

“We knew health disparity existed before COVID-19, but one of the coolest things Truman has is a connection to the community. Our job is to get out and listen. We must pinpoint trusted voices and entities, make sure we have a finger on the pulse of the community and know what they need. We understand how diverse our community is, and we mirror our team to reflect it.” ─ Hayat Abdullahi, Senior Director, Community Health Strategies and Innovations, TMC/UH

Using mobile units and partnering with area churches and community centers ─ while leveraging Cerner technology to support vaccination efforts ─ the staff at TMC/UH is vaccinating people in traditionally underserved populations as quickly as doses become available. Through mid-March 2021, TMC/UH administered nearly 4,000 vaccinations in Kansas City, and mobile sites are booked through June 2021. On average, two mobile sites vaccinate nearly 200 people per day, per site, two days a week.

Health systems across the globe are working tirelessly to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to as many people as fast and as safely as possible. Technology and data can help enhance the process for patients and providers and move us closer to getting the pandemic under control. 

Cerner is proud to partner with hospitals and health systems across the globe to meet the care demands of COVID-19, including providing technology and support for mass vaccination.

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