February 4, 2021
The world has been facing the COVID-19 global pandemic for almost a year, but it finally feels like there is light at the end of the tunnel – vaccines. The Biden administration is currently pushing for a more accelerated vaccination rollout in the U.S., and the President recently suggested the nation could soon reach an average of 1.5 million shots a day. This push comes as many health experts call the initial vaccine rollout “flawed” and express concerns over the amount of Americans vaccinated thus far. As a healthcare PR agency working with clients across the industry, we are well-versed on the latest vaccine news and “hot takes” from industry executives and wanted to share what we have been hearing lately from our clients.
There are a variety of reasons the vaccine rollout has been less efficient than expected. Distributing hundreds of millions of doses of vaccines quickly and effectively has represented a public health logistics effort on a scale not seen in the U.S. before. It has been challenging to create the amount of doses needed to vaccinate the population, identify vaccination sites, ensure providers are available to administer the vaccines, determine vaccine coverage, guarantee individuals are able to access vaccination sites, and ultimately get the vaccine into people. An added challenge has been convincing the public of the vaccine’s safety and efficacy.
The vaccination timeline varies from state to state, but Massachusetts (the location of our Aria office) is currently vaccinating Phase 1 priority groups like healthcare workers and people in long-term care facilities. Starting this week, those in Phase 2 will also be able to get vaccinated. This includes people 75 and older, early education and K-12 workers, grocery store workers, and individuals with one comorbidity. The plan is to start Phase 3 and vaccinate the rest of the general public in April, and unfortunately many of us at Aria will not qualify until the final phase.
What Our Clients Are Saying
The pandemic has exposed healthcare’s interoperability vulnerabilities in many different ways, and the vaccine is no exception. Tracking which individuals have already received the vaccine is challenging under the constraints of the current healthcare system, which has faced longstanding issues around data sharing. A few of our clients recently gave their expert input on this topic in a HIMSS TV panel.
“Healthcare data is traditionally siloed and the vaccination tracking system set up by the CDC will be disconnected from the EHR in most cases. Paper vaccination cards are being distributed to validate vaccination status, which represents the utter failure of the healthcare system to bring digital data together. The solution to this would be industry-wide interoperability.” – Matthew Michela, CEO, Life Image
“It will be important to know who has been vaccinated and who is still due. Eventually the vaccine will be available at doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and popup locations – but this means there will be uneven methods of tracking data. There will likely be a reliance on the immunization registry and interfaces built into EHRs to input data and share it across locations.” – Drew Ivan, Chief Product and Strategy Officer, Lyniate
“Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) will play an integral part in tracking the vaccines, as many HIEs have direct connection to Immunization Information Systems. HIEs can pull together immunization information and clinical information about an individual. This will be particularly useful for tracking who has received the vaccine and any potential side effects.” – Laurie Peters, HIE Client Director, Orion Health
In addition to providing thought leadership surrounding the vaccine distribution, our clients are also directly involved in supporting health systems and their patients during the pandemic. For example, our client Kyruus recently announced it has expanded its patient access platform to enable health system customers to offer online consumer scheduling for COVID-19 vaccine visits. To date, about a dozen health systems have activated vaccine scheduling with Kyruus, cumulatively booking more than 180,000 appointments in just over a month.
Are you interested in public relations and looking to work with innovative technology companies who are providing solutions to combat the pandemic? Aria is currently seeking an account coordinator and account executive to join our growing, creative team. To apply, email a resume and cover letter to Danielle Johns at email@example.com.