How Solv is providing high volume COVID vaccine distribution
Digital healthcare platform Solv recently announced plans to enable over 100 million people in the US to get a same-day appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine. This comes ahead of an anticipated surge in vaccine supply, and President Biden's May 1 deadline for open vaccine eligibility.
The company is currently working in partnership with 20 state and local public health departments across six states, to provide vaccines on a large scale to the population. In addition Solv is also now working with VaccineFinder.org, the tool used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to provide real-time vaccine appointment availability via the Solv app and on its website.
Solv’s CEO Heather Fernandez and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rob Rohatsch explain that a major challenge to vaccine rollout is that people aren’t sure where to go or what to do to get an appointment. "They’re getting different directions from the state, county and city officials as well as healthcare providers, friends and the news media. Some people are anxious to get vaccinated because of their own compromised health status and the fact that until recently vaccine supply was limited.
"Additionally, consumers are dealing with scheduling systems that weren’t designed to handle a deluge of people registering and sites that are simply not developed well to satisfy consumer demand for easy, frustration-free, and clearly-defined sign up processes."
To tackle this, Solv for Vaccines lets vaccination providers set up an end-to-end process that requires only a few minutes from patients to book appointments, and includes pre-screening for eligibility, contactless check-in and appointment reminders. Additionally once someone has received their vaccine, this is automatically reported to the state's immunisation registry, saving time for clinical team members and public health administrators.
"Solv enables efficient, speedy and high-volume vaccination appointments" Fernandez and Rohatsch say. "Inclusion and access are part of Solv's vision for making everyday healthcare more convenient and consumer-centric."
The platform has a link feature that lets state or country health departments invite individuals to book an appointment, making sure that the communities that have been hardest hit by COVID-19 are ensured access to vaccines. Solv links up with state and county pre-registration systems to allow health departments to reach individuals based on their post code and other parameters.
"Technology has a role to play towards herd immunity by allowing ease of vaccination registration" Fernandez and Rohatsch add. "The more people that can get in line, the more people can actually receive the shot - easily, effectively, and quickly, thus building momentum to reach herd immunity."
How health plans can reduce healthcare inequalities
The COVID-19 pandemic has put inequalities accessing the healthcare system in the spotlight. Jim Clement, Vice President of Product & Services at cloud provider Inovalon, tells us that health plans play the most integral role in advancing the health equity movement.
Why did it a global pandemic to highlight the issue of healthcare inequities?
Health inequity in the US has been well understood by healthcare professionals for many years, but it has become more evident due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It wasn’t until the racial and ethnic differential seen in response to COVID-19 related infections, deaths and vaccinations that many Americans became acutely aware of the health inequity due to sociodemographic factors such as race, geography, education and income.
Fortunately, there’s now a growing health equity movement afoot in America which aims to improve public health and achieve equity in health status for all people by ensuring opportunities are available to attain the highest level of health. While the entire healthcare ecosystem is important to this transformation, it is health plans that arguably play the most integral role.
How can health plans help?
Achieving health equity means obstacles to health must be removed, including poverty, discrimination, powerlessness, and lack of access to the basics like physicians, hospitals, medicine, technology, and health education. This is not only a social justice initiative, but also a clear call to action for health plan organisations that are bearing the economic brunt of the costs due to health disparities.
Health plan organisations that recognise the alignment between efforts to improve health equity and broader member engagement initiatives will be in the best position to move the needle. Plans must also understand that the provision of medical services within hospital walls, physician offices and other health services providers is necessary, but not sufficient.
By recognising that health inequity also includes non-medical factors such as employment, income, housing, transportation, childcare, and more, plans will be better equipped to ensure their members are set up for success.
What do healthcare providers need to do generally to address inequities?
Outreach by both health plans and providers is critical to ensuring people have knowledge of available services, the reason those services are critical to their health, and options to access those services based on their unique circumstances. With both stakeholders beating the same drum, progress can be made quickly.
Given the impact of social determinants of health (SDOH), should healthcare providers take a more active role in addressing these, or other agencies?
While communicating with patients is critically important, what is truly required to address inequalities is helping patients take medical actions – like regular PCP visits, monitoring A1C and accepting health coaching – that are necessary to maximise their health, along with non-medical actions –like availing themselves of community resources that address homelessness, food insecurity and employment services.
The most progressive providers and payers have or are putting in place programs to address these non-medical issues. In addition, non-medical tools such as transportation services can certainly help drive the effectiveness of medical services.
How important is it to educate patients about their health and how can this be done?
Education is a social determinant of health and a key lever to be used to drive health equity. Patients who do not understand their medical conditions or the consequences of non-compliance with their treatment plans are prone to poor outcomes.
For health plans, understanding member needs is one of the biggest drivers of quality care. A continuous cycle of engagement through feedback and appropriate responses will provide health plans with an opportunity to uncover, discuss, and resolve problems faster.
Improving member outreach and engagement can be made easier with a programmatic approach involving four stages of intentional outreach: Getting to know your members, educating members, seeking feedback from members and gaining member loyalty. Each stage not only contributes to a better member experience but also to improved outcomes and higher satisfaction scores.
Now that the issue has come to the fore, what do you think things will look like in 5 years or so?
I predict that health plans that get member engagement, education and equity right will achieve better health and greater value, faster. Those who get it wrong or delay will suffer the consequences of competitive disadvantage and pay a larger share of the rising costs associated with health inequity.