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Interview

Improving Vaccine Delivery, Operations


February 24, 2021

By Julie Gould 

Adnan Iqbal, CEO and co-founder, Luma HealthAdnan Iqbal, CEO and co-founder, Luma Health, identifies what is lacking in vaccine delivery and operations, and offers tips for health administrators and health systems that are looking to improve their vaccine rollout.  

Can you talk a little about what is lacking in vaccine delivery and operations? How does Luma Health’s new solution help address these challenges?

Right now, providers are grappling with logistical and administrative challenges and there is a critical need to streamline vaccine operations and enhance patient experience as well as ease the burden on providers’ staff and call centers. 

Vaccinating patients against COVID-19 requires significant logistical preparation, much more so than mainstream vaccines like flu shots. Healthcare providers must actively plan for CDC reporting requirements, shipment coordination, staff training, vaccine storage, scheduling, and keep up with the ever-changing directives from the local government, even before the vaccine reaches their doorsteps.  

Health care providers also need to engage effectively with patients, from educating them about vaccine safety to vaccine appointment scheduling and communicating the importance of adhering to the second dose.

The Luma Health COVID-19 Vaccine Operations Solution allows health care organizations to rapidly operationalize and execute COVID-19 vaccine education, deployment, and administration strategies into a single, integrated patient journey. 

Why are solutions needed to improve COVID-19 vaccine education and deployment, as well as reduce administration strategies into a single, integrated patient journey?

With entire communities needing vaccinations faster than health care providers can manage, vaccine operations need to be streamlined and enhanced while reducing the burden on call centers and providers. Vaccine adoption and adherence is our strongest weapon in the fight against COVID-19. Yet, the coordination and communication of vaccination eligibility, access, and scheduling is a gargantuan task. Engaging patients quickly, at scale, and encouraging compliance throughout the vaccination process is imperative. 

What tips do you have for health administrators and health systems that are looking to improve their vaccine rollout? Why are solutions like the COVID-19 Vaccine Operations Solution so important? How does it help improve patient outcomes?

Health administrators must keep communication lines open and continue to build a great patient experience. Communication around supply and demand will be critical. It will be important to use patient engagement tools to communicate around—and despite—challenges in supply. This way providers are not only engaging patients when there is supply of vaccine, they are communicating through the process and helping patients know if and where they are eligible.  

By using the right scheduling tools, you can also enroll them in a waitlist. This approach to patient engagement not only reduces the administrative and resource burden of managing a consistent influx of inbound calls around if or when patients will get a vaccine, it demonstrates providers are “there” for every patient.    

Additionally, providers need to be mindful of the demographics of their community.  Age and language of a patient can for example often determine how well or effective engagement is.  Younger demographics for example consume and respond to text quickly, and are able to navigate clicking through multiple weblinks, patient portals, etc. That isn’t always the case for the 65+ demographic or for patients with little tech literacy, where it can be difficult to manage login information, navigate websites, etc. Text is best across age group, demographic, and socioeconomic status. Language of course is key as well, so tools that provide automated language preferences will pay dividends in impact—particularly in communities where English isn’t typically a first language.

Health systems will need to lean on their technology partners more to improve their vaccine rollout strategies. For example, our end-to-end patient engagement platform streamlines COVID-19 vaccine operations and enhances patient experience including patient education, screening and consent, scheduling, appointment reminders, check-in, post-appointment follow-up and next-dose reminder. 

Where do you see the future of care going? This particular solution is specific to COVID—do you see solutions like this becoming more popular for other vaccines?

Care disruptions are going to continue for the foreseeable future. And, that’s bad for both patients and providers. According to a recent study we conducted, 91% of healthcare providers expect covid-19 will continue to disrupt care for months ‒ and possibly years. Providers are bracing themselves for a tough road ahead.  

When more than half of all health care providers (56%) across the nation are operating at less than 80% capacity, and 91% say they expect care disruptions to continue for the foreseeable future, the problem becomes exponential. 

Patients aren’t seeking the care they need, and providers are operating at dangerously low levels. Without a solution, this could cripple our nation's health care system. Luma Health will continue working hand-in-hand with our customers to help solve this problem.  

One trend in care that will continue in 2021 is virtual/telehealth. Curbside care will increase, as patients like the convenience and safety of waiting in their cars. Virtual waiting rooms will continue, and remote healthcare is going to gain more and more traction. Technology will facilitate regular check-ins with patients between visits to ensure they are on track with treatment plans, and to prevent chronic conditions from moving to an acute situation. This is really important for chronic care patients.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

The COVID-19 pandemic has stretched and tested our healthcare system in every shape and form, with healthcare technology transformation being accelerated by 7+ years in the span of just months. The incremental improvements in terms of adopting technology and rethinking decades-old processes is allowing healthcare to meet patients where they are in their life and care journey, as well as ensure the safety and well-being of healthcare providers and staff.   

That being said, what we’re most excited about at Luma Health is the big opportunity to automate everything except care delivery, helping healthcare providers deliver more exceptional care to more patients. 

We’re starting by unifying and automating all patient journeys—clinical, operational, and financial—with the immediate 2021 goal of helping 50 million Americans get to the right care with the right health care provider quickly. 

About Mr Iqbal

Born and raised in the Bay Area, CEO and co-founder Adnan Iqbal turned his passion for biology and patient health into a career developing new technology that helps get patients to care faster and empowers healthcare providers to maximize patient health by managing the entire patient healthcare journey. Population Health Learning Network previously spoke to Adnan here.

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