ServiceNow Working to Solve the COVID Vaccine “Last Mile” Challenge

ServiceNow, a company that delivers digital workflows through a SaaS platform, has quietly been working with healthcare providers on their vaccine distribution programs. Their solution helps automate and bring coherence to the myriad of tasks associated with notifying, scheduling and dispensing the vaccine to patients.

Healthcare IT Today recently sat down for a conversation with Mike Luessi, General Manager of Global Healthcare and Life Sciences at ServiceNow to learn more about their work in healthcare. Personally, it felt good to be talking about vaccine distribution, the light at the end of our long COVID tunnel rather than the continued hardship and disruption the pandemic is causing.

Tracking Vaccinations

According to Luessi, ServiceNow is deeply involved with helping vaccine tracking and distribution for large employers, universities and other organizations that need to organize large groups of staff, students, or members. ServiceNow is helping to:

  • Inform people about the vaccine
  • Notify people when vaccines are available
  • Scheduling people for vaccination appointments
  • Obtaining and tracking consent
  • Verifying the identity of everyone showing up at the vaccination site
  • Scheduling the follow-up appointment for the 2nd dose
  • Reminding people of their 2nd dose appointment

A workflow challenge

“We’ve never seen something like this before,” said Luessi. “Internally we talk about it as being the greatest workflow challenge of our lifetime. We’re looking to automate as many things as we can.”

Luessi’s comment is understandable when you consider all the moving parts that must come together to administer two doses of a COVID vaccine to an individual. Having a backbone that brings systems from different vendors together would certainly make the process smoother and less frustrating. It is also, potentially, safer.

Workflow solutions like ServiceNow’s ensure that each step of the process is completed before proceeding to the next step. In the rush to get things done quickly, it can be tempting to skip a step, but that can lead to errors which can sometimes harm patients.

The Last Mile

Transporting the vaccines from the manufacturer to various destinations around the world, requires a great deal of coordination and planning. Care must be taken at each step. According to Luessi, that same degree of care needs to be applied to the “last mile” – from the time the vaccines arrive at a facility to the time they are administered to a patient.

To illustrate the point, Luessi shared a personal story about his in-laws and their experience with the vaccine. His sister in-law had to get involved to schedule an appointment for her parents and help them navigate the entire process because it was so complex. On top of that, they got in line at 3 am!

“I look at this and it’s clear there’s so much work to be done,” explained Luessi. “Everybody’s figuring this out in real time but it’s all workflow driven, and it’s all broken in that last mile. Our platform was built to solve these types of problems. Right now we just want to help as many people as possible.”

With more than 15 billion doses needing to be delivered in a 12 month period worldwide it is important that these last mile challenges are addressed.

An opportunity

During our conversation, Luessi and I spoke about the golden opportunity that the COVID vaccine is presenting for population health and public health. With so many people coming in to see health professionals, there is an opportunity to educate them about other vaccines that will help keep them healthy – like the flu shot (next year), HPV, Shingles, etc.

With a system like ServiceNow’s it would be easy to add this extra step into the process.

Watch the full interview with Luessi to learn:

  • How complex vaccine distribution really is
  • How NHS Scotland is leveraging ServiceNow’s solutions to vaccinate all of their citizens
  • The role bulk scheduling plays in vaccine distribution
  • Why older adults may be more accepting of new technology than we think

Learn more about ServiceNow:

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About the author

Colin Hung

Colin Hung

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

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