Pandemic ripe for surveying patient experience
Our blog from last week on the difficulties some people have had trying to find and book in for a vaccination took on extra meaning this week, as metropolitan Sydney’s outbreak worsened and Melbourne snapped into a hopefully short and sharp lockdown. Vaccination is the key to all of us getting out of this, but besides the problem with adequate supply in Australia and late supply in New Zealand, it’s our IT systems that we are relying on to help us navigate our way out of disaster.
NSW Health’s systems are among those that have come in for a lot of criticism, and confusion still reigns over what exactly they plan to do about it, but we have also been closely watching what each state and territory in Australia is doing, along with the national system in New Zealand.
NZ puts up a good front but it has put all of its eggs in one basket in just choosing the Pfizer vaccine for the whole population, and it has also come in for a bit of criticism about its immunisation register and national booking system, which isn’t even scheduled to go live until the end of July.
The NZ Ministry of Health’s head of data and digital Shayne Hunter has been at pains to explain that there were other priorities before rolling out the booking system, now being dubbed Book My Vaccine and using the Skedulo app, originally designed to manage mobile healthcare staff and built built to interact with Salesforce’s health cloud. It is also being used by Western Australia.
Health Informatics New Zealand is reporting that all of the old district health board appointment systems have now migrated to the national system, so fingers crossed that all goes well when the national system goes live in a fortnight.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has been touting the benefits of its system for Victoria, although we understand that not all health services are using it even though it was destined to be a statewide solution at a cost of $9 million. Austin Health, for example, is now going to implement a local solution from HotDoc, as is St Vincent’s in Sydney. Queensland is also using the Microsoft solution, and from what we can garner from our readers, it’s doing pretty well.
South Australia is using its Allscripts EMR for some purposes, the ACT is using its Epic system known as MyDHR, and Tasmania is using Oracle. NT Health finally came back to us with an answer to questions lodged a while back about what it is using, in stereotypical bureaucracy speak: “NT Health has worked with the Department of Corporate and Digital Development to develop the Territory’s COVID-19 vaccine online booking system using specialist resources sourced from local Northern Territory digital businesses.” No, we don’t know what that means either.
Unlike Pulse+IT’s experience in NSW, down in Tasmania we have pretty much found the process seamless. When the 40 to 49-year-old cohort became eligible in early June, we hopped onto HealthDirect and found the recommended Pfizer vaccines available through the Royal Hobart Hospital Community Clinic. We clicked on that clinic as the preferred choice (it was the only one), were directed to the Tasmanian COVID-19 vaccination booking system, which uses Oracle’s mass vaccination solution, and were able to book in for our first shot within five weeks.
We were sent an email confirmation on booking, another the day before the appointment and another two hours beforehand. The whole process was exemplary, including the shot itself, the information provided, the shake of the head from the nurse when Pulse+IT’s staffer told her we didn’t read the website properly and didn’t download and pre-fill the consent form, the QR code to scan in for the AusVaxSafety survey while waiting the mandatory 15 minutes, the booking of the next shot on the spot, and the backup emails from Tas Health and AusVaxSafety with second-shot booking confirmation and the side-effects survey within hours and days. We also were able to see our vax status on our My Health Record and Medicare the next day.
While Tasmania’s system has been seamless, it also must be said that a state of half a million people is not an actual metropolis like Sydney or Melbourne, and the load on its systems is minuscule in comparison. The only criticisms we have, and these are minor, are poor signage and wayfinding at RHH – it’s not alone there – and that patient experience data is not being collected when it should be.
This brings us to the results from blog and poll from last week, which garnered a lot of comments and votes, most of which were overwhelmingly positive about everyone’s experience so far, whether it is in a hospital, a mass vaccination centre, a pop-up clinic or a general practice. In particular, we received some really good data – both positive and negative – from 135 free text comments, which are incredibly constructive and something that health services could learn from.
The ease of use of SMS booking reminders and patient experience surveys, and simple technologies like Press My Button, should really be used to refine health service provision not just for pandemics but for everyday experience. But in a time of pandemic, when our attention is purely on it, this is the time to gather patient experience data and use it to refine the booking and vaccination journey.
We particularly like this tweet about the side-effects of the vaccine and the willingness of patients to tell their stories: “Experienced some shortness of breath after getting vaccinated; quickly realised it was from telling everybody I'd been vaccinated.”
Our poll last week set out to gauge where people were getting their shots, but we also asked for optional feedback. 43.5 per cent said they attended a hospital, while the rest were a mixture of GPs, mass vaccination centres or pop-up clinics. The vast majority had an excellent or good experience, although some found the process very difficult to navigate, much as Pulse+IT did last week with the NSW booking system.
Overall, we found that the more difficult people found the process, the more detailed were their criticisms. There is something we can all learn from this.
That brings us to our poll question for this week:
Has the vaccine roll out in Australia and New Zealand been handled competently?
Please feel free to leave your comments when you click here to vote or leave your comments below.