As the UK prepares for its greatest mass vaccination programme, doctors have raised concerns about the IT system for booking and recall of patients.
A COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech is due to be rolled out next week after being approved for use by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority (MHRA) yesterday.
But questions remain about logistics of the vacation programme, which involves the administration of two separate injections, 28 days apart.
NHS Confederation’s primary care network (PCN) director, Ruth Rankine, told the BMJ it was unclear how national mass vaccination centres would link to primary care IT systems to ensure shared records of who has the jabs.
However, an NHS England spokesperson said: “There are well established processes for vaccination call and recall, including practice systems and the National Immunisation Management Service which NHS Digital is integrating into an end-to-end service for COVID vaccination.”
Amid the concerns, UK health tech firm Q doctor is rolling-out a vaccination booking platform with its network of 3,200 GP practices and has recently signed the Enfield Unity Primary Care Network (EUNPN).
EUPN will use Q doctor’s updated functionality to send out its first bulk flu vaccination booking appointments and is looking at it as a solution for the COVID vaccination.
WHY IT MATTERS
Britain faces a huge logistical challenge in the upcoming mass vaccination programme and a secure, effective patient booking system will be essential to its success.
THE LARGER CONTEXT
Last month, UK startup DrDoctor launched a solution which aims to streamline the vaccination booking process for NHS staff by linking the two appointments required.
Meanwhile, the MHRA has paid software company Genpact UK £1.5 million for an artificial intelligence (AI) tool that will be used to process adverse reactions to COVID vaccines in the UK.
ON THE RECORD
EUPN GP and clinical director, Dr Anita Shah, said: “We’re already seeing an increase in patient interest in the vaccine and this is only going to grow in the coming weeks.
“Our current system isn’t prepared for this and won’t be able to cope. We need to prepare for this influx of patient enquiries and bookings and we need a robust way to contact patients, send reminders, and follow up that is integrated with our IT. The booking system is going to be crucial to making sure that our whole population is vaccinated.”
Q doctor chief medical officer, Sumithra Sukumar, said: “The number of patient contacts (compared to a similar time last year) has increased. This, combined with the newly emerging data regarding the successful trials of a usable vaccine, means it has never been more important to have a viable, adaptable, secure and easy to use booking system to ensure patients are able to access the vaccination programs as they are rolled-out nationally.”