Vendors move quickly to fill tech void

The decision by the Victorian government to order a snap five-day lockdown from midnight on Friday shows just how crucial the COVID-19 vaccination program will be. As Nobel laureate Peter Doherty said, if we want to avoid this sort of constant economic and social disruption, we are going to need a vaccination rate of over 80 per cent.

That will mean retaining confidence in the vaccines themselves, and getting them out as quickly and efficiently as possible. And that will need good, efficient management of the first phases of distribution and administration in hospitals, residential aged care, general practice and pharmacies.

Unfortunately, there are still some misgivings about whether we can successfully pull it off. You’ll remember that when Pulse+IT readers were surveyed about whether you thought Australia was adequately prepared for the mass vaccination roll-out, just 7.5 cent of respondents said yes. There was also a great deal of concern over the lack of clarity around the national booking system that the Department of Health has promised to healthcare providers chosen to take part. We asked readers last week if you thought this system was going to work. Again, Pulse+IT readers were not at all confident: nine in 10 said no.

The good news is that vendors have already started rolling out solutions to help customers prepare for the vaccination program. Appointment booking system vendors like HotDoc and MyHealth1st have or are about to release new applications, and clinical software vendors like Telstra Health are upgrading their products to streamline links to the Australian Immunisation Register and to bring out new solutions like pre- and post-appointment forms.

And on Wednesday, appointment booking service HealthEngine and pharmacy solution vendor MedAdvisor announced they’d got together to build a solution for pharmacies, starting with TerryWhite Chemmart. We expect to see a lot more of this happening and have set up a dedicated technology resources page on Pulse+IT ‘s homepage to feature new services for the vaccine program. We’ll keep this updated regularly as new resources are released.

New Zealand is also gearing up its systems, announcing this week that the National Immunisation Solution it has been building to replace the aged National Immunisation Register is now available and ready to be put into action once vaccines arrive. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Friday that they are due to arrive next week, with the first being administered to frontline and essential workers from February 20.

While there is no firm date for Australia as yet, the government at least is exploring the idea of vaccination certificates, with work underway to create digital and paper vaccination records using existing technology like the immunisation history statements already available at Medicare online through the AIR.

This capability will be essential in the coming year for international travel. Airlines are already working on the problem, as are organisations like the Commons Project and the Vaccination Credential Initiative. In news this week, tech trailblazer Estonia announced it was working with the World Health Organisation on developing global standards for recognising electronic vaccine certificates and checking the source.

Let us hope these efforts are more successful than various Covid contact tracing apps, some of which appear to have been very useful, although others appear to have not.

That brings us to our poll question for this week:

Do you support the idea of a digital Covid vaccination passport?

Vote here and feel free to leave your comments below or on the poll form.

Last week, we asked: Is the national booking system going to work? 90.5 per cent said no, with just 9.5 per cent saying yes.


+1 # Andrew Baird 2021-02-13 08:58
Currently, Australia will not be vaccinating people under 18.
Proportion of Australians under 18 = 22%
Proportion of Australians eligible for COVID-19 vaccination = 78%

If everyone in Australia who is eligible for COVID-19 vaccination gets vaccinated, then 78% of the population will be vaccinated ... less than Peter Doherty's requirement for an 80% vaccination rate. And we know that not everyone who is eligible for vaccination is going to get vaccinated. Probably much less than 78%.

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