Cerner plays key role in mass COVID-19 vaccination efforts

Tech plays key role in tracking, administering
Posted at 9:12 PM, Dec 21, 2020

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Months before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for emergency-use authorization, technology teams at Cerner were hard at work.

The Kansas City-based supplier of health information technology services was thinking of ways it could help its clients prepare for mass vaccination efforts.

“We knew right away our clients would need help responding to COVID,” Dick Flanigan, Cerner’s senior vice president of policy and regulatory strategy, said. “There had to be good, quick ways to enroll people so that that vaccination experience can be two or three minutes.”

To meet the demand for immunizations, Cerner worked with its clients, like Truman Medical Centers, to help streamline patient scheduling and registration for the vaccines. The goal was to create a quick and socially distanced setting for the vaccine administration, which Heather Gleason said has been successful to-date.

Gleason is the senior director of IT Applications at Truman Medical Centers.

“We have iPad kiosks that we can check in the patient with just (their) last name, first name and date of birth," she said. "It automatically fires the order. We are really limiting the touch with the patient or the workforce member.”

Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses within a specific timeframe. Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine requires a second dose be administered 28 days after the first dose. Pfizer’s requires a waiting period of 21 days.

The waiting period, according to Katie Korte, director of pharmacy at Truman Medical Center Lakewood, is critical.

“We need every single person who we give a first dose to, to come back for their second dose," Korte said. "That’s what the studies are based off of, that’s how we know the vaccine works."

The technology Cerner developed will help patients and health care providers with this task, by providing physicians with information about the specific type of dose and date a vaccine was administered, as well as providing patients with reminders on their phones.

“Technology is at every step of the way," Flanigan said.