As several biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies begin to apply for and receive emergency use authorization from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for their COVID-19 vaccines, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has activated the distribution phase of its Operation Warp Speed Strategy for Distributing a COVID-19 Vaccine. The playbook for this phase of the plan is complex and relies on several critical components including the need for appropriate IT architecture to support an extensive data monitoring infrastructure.
The data monitoring infrastructure will be relied upon to identify when a person needs a potential second dose, to monitor outcomes and adverse events, and to account for products the U.S. government is spending billions of dollars to research, develop and produce. Organizations that administer vaccines will need the capability to accurately capture and share data at the federal, state, local and tribal levels to ensure efficient management of the vaccine program.
Because the initial supply will be limited, the CDC has recommended that healthcare personnel be the first to receive the vaccination, followed by workers in essential and critical industries, people at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions, and people 65 years and older. With healthcare workers at the top of the priority list, the impact of the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines is significant for many healthcare systems.
Enterprise Health, an employee health IT solution used by several large employers and health systems to manage the health, compliance and wellness of their employees, has been working behind the scenes to configure a COVID-19 immunization workflow within the solution. Dr. Rich Hammel, chief product evangelist and on-staff medical director and Emily McComb, director of account management for Enterprise Health have been leading the effort in partnership with a large healthcare system client in New York.
The COVID-19-specific workflow within Enterprise Health is based on modifying the proven existing mass immunization functionality already routinely used by the company’s health system and other large employer clients to manage large-scale employee vaccination events such as annual flu immunizations. The workflow will be finalized by the Enterprise Health team as soon as published contraindications, administration schedules, CDC CVX codes, VIS and associated barcodes, and other details for each vaccine become available.
According to Dr. Hammel, the Enterprise Health COVID-19 immunization workflow will enable employers to manage vaccine administration to employee populations based on prioritization using rules-based health surveillance panels. These panels can be based on factors such as job role, department, work location or other criteria established to identify critical populations.
Employers will also be able to automate the sending of invitation and reminder emails to notify employees they are eligible for a vaccine and direct employees to a portal to schedule a vaccine and provide electronic consent or declination. Clinicians will use a mass injection screen to rapidly document vaccine administration, and because all employee health information is stored in one place, the system will alert clinicians of missing consents prior to vaccination.
Dr. Hammel and the Enterprise Health team are also closely monitoring the CDC’s position on requiring organizations to report COVID-19 vaccines to a registry. Enterprise Health already has real-time interfaces established with many state immunization information systems (IIS) which should simplify reporting if the CDC leverages these existing systems to electronically feed information to a COVID-19 registry.
As the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccines begins, organizations that will be administering vaccines are quickly ramping up to ensure a rapid and safe distribution. Enterprise Health’s comprehensive occupational health IT solution with its extensive immunization functionality is already several steps ahead and positioned to help its health system clients rapidly vaccinate their employee populations.