Healthcare Deals with COVID

Challenges Healthcare Organizations Are Facing with the COVID Vaccine Rollout 

By: Natalie Cheng

As if the healthcare industry hasn’t already been dealt enough stress, they are now facing several challenges in administering vaccines. Here are 3 challenges that healthcare organizations are currently facing with the COVID vaccine rollout:

1. Inconsistent Vaccine Availability

Even though some healthcare organizations have enough capacity to vaccinate thousands of people a week, inconsistent vaccine supply has frustrated many. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, “Many administrators said they were frustrated about underused distribution capacity because of inconsistent vaccine supply. One hospital said it has the capacity to vaccinate 5,000 people a week, but only received 2,000 doses a week.” Vaccine manufacturers are working as quickly as they can to get supplies out. Although, unfortunately, a factory mix-up did ruin up to 15 million vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson whose one-dose vaccine has been credited with speeding up the national immunization program. Healthcare executives predict that there will be up to 6 or more vaccine manufacturers by summer hopefully alleviating vaccine supply inconsistencies.

2. High Demand for Service and Diminished Resources

Because of all the COVID cases, there’s been an even higher demand on hospitals to deliver care. Most recently, France is battling a new virus surge with COVID-19 patients occupying all beds in an ICU ward of the President’s hometown hospital. According to Becker’s, “bottlenecks in the ICU and emergency departments have led to longer stays at some hospitals, with one reporting at the time of the survey that 13 of its 17 emergency treatment rooms were occupied by COVID-19 patients waiting for admission.” Beyond treating patients for COVID, hospitals have to stand up and operate vaccination clinics. They must navigate daily operations while managing a population of patients that have put off health services during the pandemic thus increasing their need for emergency services. The result is a strained healthcare system that continues to face added stressors daily. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “What the public doesn’t see is that the same health care workers they rely on to provide care are the same ones being pulled to distribute vaccinations. They can’t be everywhere at once.” High turnover especially among nurses has also exacerbated the problem. Hospitals have reported that high turnover and competition for medical staff have created staffing shortages that in some cases have affected patient care.

3. Inflexible System

In terms of having a system to manage and coordinate vaccinations, most hospital systems already have software in place. However, healthcare organizations must report vaccinations to the state and federal government and these systems aren’t always the most flexible, requiring vaccine administrators to input the same vaccine information multiple times for state, federal, and any additional reporting. This adds on to the time required for administrators to work on vaccination efforts when they could be helping patients instead. In Texas, not all healthcare organizations’ electronic records sync with ImmTrac2, the state’s immunization registry. For example, a local pharmacy’s electronic records weren’t syncing with ImmTrac2, which led to four employees having to re-enter all information by hand, a task that took six hours to complete.

Next Steps

A solution that could help alleviate some of the problems that healthcare organizations are currently facing could be a flexible vaccine management solution. A vaccine management solution can help with preregistering and scheduling patients for a vaccine once organizations know how many vaccines they will receive at a given time. In addition, having a vaccine management solution will put less of a burden on vaccine administrators by freeing up valuable resources. For example, the solution can reduce the number of staff needed to run vaccination clinics so that nurses and other clinical staff can go back to caring for patients. A vaccine management solution can also save valuable time by integrating with state and federal immunization registries so that vaccine administrators won’t have to spend time re-entering the same information in various systems.

Looking for help in your vaccination efforts? Reach out to us for a free demo of our vaccine management solution, Innoculate.

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