6 AI Tools That Are Helping With COVID-19 Vaccination Rollouts
“When I think back on the pace of scientific advances in 2020, I am stunned. Humans have never made more progress on any disease in a year than the world did on COVID-19 this year.”
Over the last year, the spread of the COVID-19 virus had been matched only by the spread of fear that hospitals will become overwhelmed with patients (a fear that came to a tragic passing in far too many instances and locations from northern Italy through to New York City) and that a vaccine would not be developed in time to prevent further calamity. Now that the COVID-19 vaccines are here and rollouts have begun at a voracious pace, hospitals and medical providers are fighting on all fronts.
They are inundated with unprecedented spikes in call center traffic, answering a barrage of patients' questions, scheduling appointments, routing patients, administering the vaccines, and more. They also face a new pandemic of concern and confusion surrounding the vaccine's safety, thanks mainly to a tsunami of misinformation and fake news. However, an increasing number of AI developers are rushing to the rescue, bringing forth tools and solutions to help hospitals and medical providers ensure the global success of vaccination rollouts. Among them are Microsoft, Google, Salesforce, VigiLanz, BioButton, and Hyro.
Here’s a zoom-in glance at six AI healthcare tools and how they're assisting healthcare organizations and governments worldwide streamline their COVID-19 vaccine operations.
Almost as soon as the pandemic broke out, Microsoft (guided by its iconic, infectious diseases warrior and founder Bill Gates) was quick to offer funding and assistance, collaborating with governments, nonprofits, and academia on finding solutions. The IT giant has provided access to Microsoft AI, technical experts, data scientists, and other resources and deployed over 230 emergency COVID-19 response missions globally.
Its latest initiative is the Vaccination Registration and Administration Solution (VRAS) that advances its COVID-19 solution portfolio capabilities and enables compliant administration of resident assessment, registration, and phased scheduling for vaccine distribution, streamlined reporting, and management dashboarding with analytics and forecasting. The solution also helps organizations confirm vaccine availability and maintain adequate doses, syringes, and PPE stock levels. These offerings aid health agencies and healthcare providers deliver the vaccine to individuals efficiently, equitably, and safely.
Global CRM leader Salesforce launched its new Vaccine Cloud technology on January 27th, 2021, to allow healthcare organizations, governments, businesses, and nonprofits worldwide to build, design, integrate, and manage their vaccine rollouts at scale. Using Salesforce's Customer 360 platform, the solution is flexible, trusted, and quick to deploy. Key features include inventory management, a public health command center, scheduling vaccines, clinical vaccine administration, outcome monitoring, analytics, public health notifications, and more.
On January 25th, Google made headlines announcing that it will provide over $150 million to promote vaccine education and equitable distribution and convert several Google offices into vaccination sites.
Days later, reaffirming its commitment to help customers and societies "rise to the challenge of getting vaccines to more people," Mike Daniels, VP Global Public Sector, Google Cloud, introduced the Intelligent Vaccine Impact Solution. The AI-powered tool helps increase vaccine availability and equitable access to those who need it and allows governments to build confidence, awareness, and vaccine acceptance. The solution is easily integrated with existing technologies. It comprises COVID-19 forecasting and analysis, a vaccine information portal to stymie the flooding of state and local agencies with questions, scheduling management, and sentiment analysis.
On December 18th, 2020, clinical surveillance company VigiLanz launched a new mass vaccination support software, Vigilanz Vaccinate. The software is offered free to existing customers and provides hospitals with an end-to-end admin and management solution to streamline their frontline healthcare workers' mass vaccination. By automating workflows for program admins, the tool makes it easy for staff to register for and consent to be vaccinated and receive the second dose. The solution comprises a vaccination dashboard that tracks everything from the quantity of staff vaccinated to how many are still waiting.
Explaining the importance for staff to opt-out of the second dose, Stacy Pur, Vigilanz VP of Product Development, says that "the system will prioritize them for the second dose of the vaccine, but there is still a secondary consent that is needed. If that consent is not provided, then their dose is released back into the pool so that it's available to others." The tool also addresses the limited availability of vaccines, which is becoming a glaring new challenge for healthcare organizations.
The rapid uptake of wearable tech has brought it to the forefront of IoT. With life-changing applications in medicine and other fields, it makes sense that the virus's overall management would include hands-free devices. Introducing the BioIntelliSense' BioButton™ - the coin-sized, FDA-cleared medical-grade wearable COVID-19 screening solution. The BioButton™ system is a cost-effective and scalable solution for COVID-19 symptom monitoring at work, school, and home. The user-friendly device features include continuous vital signs and temperature monitoring for up to 90-days (based on configuration) and advanced analytics to identify statistically significant trends and screen for early potential COVID-19 infection. BioIntelliSense stresses the unreliability of traditional screening and testing for early risk detection.
UCHealth healthcare staff who received the vaccine were given the BioButton to monitor potential adverse effects. The importance here is a scalable post-vaccine monitoring program that could be more widely deployed, especially for high-risk patient populations.
On December 22nd, 2020, Hyro released VAXA- an AI-powered vaccine access solution designed to deflect the load of incoming calls for vaccination information and scheduling queries handled by live support centers staff and clinicians. Since VAXA's launch, the company began equipping U.S. hospitals and chief healthcare systems, including Novant Health, with VAXA voice assistants to handle the mass-scheduling of appointments. The AI solution is projected to offload at least 40% of the anticipated 500% increase in calls to virtual assistants capable of engaging in natural conversations.
VAXA also enables healthcare providers to automate vaccination appointment-setups, minimize vaccine waste, and allow easier post-inoculation monitoring. An essential aspect of the solution is countering the spread of fake news and misinformation about the vaccine's safety and efficacy, causing patient hesitancy. Providers outfitted with VAXA can expect implementation to take a week. They can also anticipate a 65% drop in the number of callers on hold who hang up out of frustration without receiving the information they seek and, more significantly, without scheduling a vaccine.
Hyro CEO Israel Krush commented that "when the pandemic struck last February, the biggest fear was that hospitals would be inundated with infected patients; but, today, with the warp-speed availability of COVID-19 vaccines, that fear has shifted from hospital ICU overload to overload of hospital switchboards." He stressed that if people hang up without scheduling the vaccination, "we could see fewer people than hoped for being immunized, which might prolong the coronavirus pandemic."
VAXA also makes it less likely that patients will miss their inoculation appointments, minimizing vaccine waste. Krush explained that to Hyro's "AI virtual assistants - powered by our natural language understanding engine that includes voice and text capabilities — automatically reach out with phone reminders and confirmation requests ahead of the upcoming appointment."
A core advantage is VAXA's capacity to reveal — through the solution's designated analytics suite — the most popular questions and topics for patients surrounding vaccinations and offer accurate information.
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