The 5 most important logistical questions to answer before COVAX
We should hear any week now the government’s EOI results for medical practices to start the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. This vaccine roll-out will not be the same as any we have completed previously in the industry.
With the start of the roll-out fast approaching I wanted to piece together 5 logistical questions you need to answer before the COVAX roll-out. If you’re worried about the financial impacts, check out our free financial modelling tool – the COVAX Feasibility Tool.
With the COVID-19 vaccine comes a potential logistical nightmare. You will want to continue to refer to the federal government’s COVIDSafe COVID-19 vaccine national roll-out strategy to ensure your practice’s logistics work out. That includes:
- Phase 1b
- Phase 2a
- Phase 2b
- Phase 3
Each of these phases in the federal governments’ COVID-19 vaccine national roll-out strategy includes appropriate population estimations and age range.
1. Do we have enough space in the practice?
Firstly, I have spoken to many practices which have reached out to their landlord and asked for additional rooms or capacity at their site, which may currently be vacant.
It’s vital to model your demand, and how long the patient may have to be supervised after their vaccination with your practice’s physical capacity.
Measure your current room utilisation; if you’re using Cubiko, you can find this in our Past Clinic Metrics cabinet. If you aren’t currently using Cubiko, look at your rooms and the practitioner’s diaries that work in there. Over the last month, measure your practitioner’s diaries in those rooms and how full their diaries have been.
COVAX Feasibility Tool
We’ve created a free tool for medical practices to analyse whether the COVID-19 vaccine is the right decision for their business.
2. Car parks?
Secondly, we can look at our allotted car parks.
Are there any other car parks at your site that may be available for your patients for short term parking? Do we change our processes to ask for non-critical patients to park on the street? There are many questions to ask here, and your plan will depend on your area and your patient’s expectations and standard presentations. Think about where your staff should park, should they park on a side street during busy periods? If you’re opening for extended periods during the national roll-out of COVID-19, make sure that your centre’s car park is also open for that time.
3. How do we store the vaccine?
Refrigeration is essential.
I hope we have all organised our required fridges and back-up freezers, and processes to manage them for our vaccines. With the freezers though, there are other factors to take into consideration. We need to make sure our policies and procedures are in place. Does the freezer change our utility costs or insurance premiums?
Finally, I’ve spoken to some practices who have taken precautionary methods to ensure security over the vaccines. That may extend to installing locks on equipment or installing CCTV to monitor the access.
4. How do we manage both the Flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine?
This year is a double whammy, with both COVAX and the regular flu season impacting our practice. Preparation for flu season should be well underway. The initial question regarding flu season is, will we do the flu vaccine this year? Making that decision early and communicating it to the team can help reduce ambiguity.
Speaking to one larger practice group, they’ve proposed some of their peer practices to share the flu and COVID vaccines’ load. Depending on your circumstances, this may not be appropriate but specialising in only one type of jab provides significant efficiencies in operational processes. It may also pose risks concerning the loss of patients. Factor in the balance of patient needs and access with your business efficiency and requirements for your decision-making.
Taking into account both jabs reanalyse whether there will be enough staff on the roster, sufficient waiting areas, storage for consumables and protocols detailed enough to fit our new context. If you are doing both jabs, make sure you’re up to date with the latest clinical guidelines for what to do when a patient has both the COVID-19 vaccine and a flu shot.
Do you have a clinician lead responsible for monitoring changes and flagging at the practice times for reviewing protocols? COVID will continue to be a moving beast, build in accountable offices and share the load for monitoring different types of advice, system changes and the like. It is not just one person trying to stay across everything.
5. What is our expected demand?
To plan for your practice to meet the different demand levels, it’s essential you also analyse your patient cohort database. For instance, does your patient cohort include a larger elderly population, and therefore you should expect that most of your patients will come through in Phase 1b?
If you are using Cubiko I recommend using our Patient Cohort Growth cabinet. This cabinet details the change of your patient cohort over time. The cabinet will also detail your patient cohort, who are currently marked as active in Best Practice and who are active as per the RACGP’s guidelines.
You may not be using Cubiko. Therefore we recommend running reports in your relevant Practice Management System. It is important to map out your patient cohort and the local area demographics to plan for the varying stages.