Since the COVID-19 outbreak began in the US, healthcare has had to swiftly adapt to help test and prevent the further spread of the virus. Now, as vaccinations have begun to roll out across the country, healthcare systems are adapting almost daily to handle the ever-changing public vaccine demands. Healthcare interoperability is essential for an effective nationwide vaccine rollout. We can only reach herd immunity and return to “normal” life if most of the country receives the vaccine. Thanks to increased interoperability, getting the vaccine is easier today than ever before. From automated scheduling to increased patient engagement, electronic health records (EHRs) and other tools utilized to schedule, administer and record vaccinations. Let’s take a closer look at some of the major ways interoperability makes the COVID-19 vaccine accessible to all individuals.
Healthcare Interoperability Allows for Faster Scheduling and Registration
Increased healthcare interoperability streamlines the vaccination process for providers and recipients alike
When mass vaccine rollout began in 2021, many were unsure how to register and schedule their vaccine appointment properly. Now that vaccines are much more readily available to the general public, confusion over scheduling can still prevent some from getting their vaccine. However, thanks to healthcare interoperability, registering and scheduling a vaccine appointment is now easier than ever. For example, many eligible candidates can now register and schedule simultaneously, making the two-step process much more efficient. Additionally, scheduling and registration can be completed without calling or visiting a vaccination site in person. It is important to consider that everyone needs the vaccine, so it should be as accessible as possible to those who may not have reliable transportation or phone access. By implementing interoperable workflows, the vaccine becomes more available to priority groups.
Increased Patient Engagement
Professionals are banking on advanced technology to help raise awareness about the vaccine
Now that the vaccine is readily available to most individuals, mass vaccination sites are becoming more common, and demand for the vaccine is beginning to drop. Healthcare professionals previously did not have enough vaccines; they are now finding that they have too many. This is problematic as the vaccines can expire quickly if they are not used. Because of this drop in demand, healthcare professionals are relying on advances in interoperability to assist with outreach efforts. For example, when a patient visits their physician for a regular checkup, the EHR system will show whether they have received the COVID-19 vaccine. If they have not, the physician will schedule a future vaccine appointment during the routine checkup. With added interoperability, doctor’s offices can automate emails to all patients inquiring if they are still in need of the vaccine.
Expedited On-Site Vaccination Process
Interoperability creates easy to use and scalable solutions for mass vaccination sites
When it comes to mass vaccination sites, efficiency is key to distributing vaccines without wasting any doses. If a vaccination site is not able to administer a predictable amount of vaccines, some could end up expiring. Because these sites have to operate seamlessly, they rely on interoperability to expedite the registration and vaccine delivery. For example, each vaccination appointment lasts roughly 15 minutes. Suppose the EHR system is not fully integrated and cannot search for and verify vaccine appointments quickly. In that case, the process slows down and candidates cannot get their vaccine within the 15 minute time window. This hold-up could lead to long lines and wasted vaccines at the site, resulting in fewer total vaccinations per day. Thanks to healthcare interoperability with EHR systems, workers can quickly verify appointments using a code and administer vaccines within 15-25 minutes.
Readily Available Vaccine Credentials
After vaccination, EHRs can store and distribute credentials to vaccine recipients
As we move closer to herd immunity, many wonder how they will access their vaccine credentials after they have received their shots. These vaccine credentials have many uses for vaccinated individuals to return to normal activities. Soon, you will likely have to present your verifiable credential to board an international flight or return to your in-person job. With advanced interoperability, individuals will be able to access their verifiable credentials through an EHR system easily. The more easily accessible the verifiable credentials are, the more quickly can safely return to normal interactions and travel. Though healthcare IT providers are still working on distributing these credentials universally, advancements in interoperability ensure that everyone’s vaccination data is stored and verifiable.
Since mass vaccination events have begun immunizing the public in 2021, healthcare providers have constantly adapted to the rapidly changing public demands. As vaccination sites become more accessible, the challenge for healthcare providers now becomes getting as many vaccinated as possible, making the process as simple as possible, and keeping accurate and verifiable data on vaccinated individuals. Without healthcare interoperability within EHR systems, none of these goals would be possible and vaccine rollout would be much slower. Thankfully, EHRs are advancing every day to meet the continuing demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, every healthcare provider must have access to the most cutting-edge technology to assist their patients. Iron Bridge remains at the forefront of these EHR integrations with its leading IT solutions in data technology, aggregation, public health management, healthcare interoperability, and patient access systems. Contact the team today to learn more about Iron Bridge’s innovative health IT solutions.