Kevin Grauman, President and CEO, QLess
After months of uncertainty, hope is finally on the horizon as three viable COVID-19 vaccine candidates approach approvals for public distribution. Getting to this stage took a lot of work, but unfortunately it is not the end of the trials. The coronavirus vaccine will represent the largest vaccine distribution in U.S. history, and vaccine manufacturing and distribution will have its own share of challenges for health systems. In order to optimize vaccine distribution, healthcare providers will need to use technology and data collection to stay organized. Unfortunately, vaccine approvals are looming fast, which means the necessary technological infrastructure must be implemented soon. Healthcare facilities need to understand what solutions can be deployed to facilitate a safe and effective distribution plan – and how to implement them before it’s too late.
Organization and distribution of vaccines
With three potential vaccines, each with different immunization schedules and side effects, managing the distribution will be a complicated endeavor. Patients should be matched with the appropriate vaccine, taking into account medical history. Once a patient is matched to their vaccine, healthcare providers should track side effects and, in the cases of Pfizer and Moderna, when the patient will receive their second dose. This requires significant data collection, which can expose healthcare providers to cybersecurity threats. Data breaches increased by 171 percent this year due to the pandemic, which means cybersecurity and secure data storage must be at the forefront of any healthcare IT strategy.
the CDC is working to implement a data use agreement to determine what information should be communicated to different levels of government. This will include information on patient pairing, which can help determine how much of each vaccine is used, the supply remaining and what should be ordered. Once these guidelines are in place, healthcare facilities will need to start planning and implementing their cybersecurity strategy. Information sharing will be important over the coming months as vaccines roll out, but this needs to be balanced with access management to reduce the risk of violations. Make sure that all team members, as well as anyone else with access to important personal data, understand the risks, as well as the protocols in place.
Once the vaccines are administered, governments will need to closely monitor patients and those who have chosen not to receive the vaccine. Vaccines are voluntary, which means that parts of the population may refuse to be vaccinated. Many governments and businesses are already discussing the implications of this, including restricting access to things like travel and common spaces. This means that additional data will need to be collected and shared to inform the public of those who are not vaccinated. UK, there was a discussion of an app, similar to the contact tracing app, that reveals a person’s vaccination status. In Canada, they discussed an immunity and vaccination passport. It remains to be seen which path the US government chooses, but there are clear implications for data collection with these new technologies.
The distribution of vaccines will also pose challenges for health care providers due to the large number of patients who need to access services. Currently, hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients …
- According to the source Benefit Technology and data for the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine –
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