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Story from the Field


Name of Health Department/Agency: Delaware General Health District
State: OH
Date Added: 12/23/2009
Themes: Communications - General H1N1
Issue Summary: Use of technology to improve communication and clinic operations
Description of Issue(s): Our agency conducted the first mass H1N1 Immunization Clinic in Central Ohio which served children, pregnant women and healthcare workers on Monday, Oct. 26, 2009. We were the first area clinic that served all children up to age 18 rather than limiting based on ages or chronic diseases. An overwhelming turnout caused a major traffic jam. Some clients ended up waiting five hours or more. Many expressed great frustration and anger, particularly because they were trapped in line and didn't know what was going on. To overcome the issues observed during this clinic it was decided to a process in place to provide our clients with more real time information. We were featured on CNN & The Today Show. Other intended sites were cancelled or delayed because of the concerns expressed by local law enforcement. Therefore plans were made with the goal of preventing traffic and parking problems as well as getting large groups of individuals vaccinated as soon as possible.
Actions taken to address the issue(s): Our review identified communication needs, so we implemented several improvements immediately.
Social Networking: We tapped into the social network system to keep our clients informed. We registered into Twitter and requested our population to follow us for the latest information. Twitter took the visitors or followers to our website.
Agency Website: The agency website front page was completely revamped to focus on H1N1 information. The website was updated with the latest local, state and national information on H1N1 vaccination. The new clinic time and location with maps and map quest links were provided for the client's convenience.
Web Cam Live Feed: We implemented live webcam feed on our website during H1N1 vaccination clinics so clients could view the live feed and see the length of waiting lines by visiting the agency website. We used the live webcam for all of our remaining high-risk-only clinics until we implemented a new online scheduling system in December for appointment only clinics.
Online Appointment System: We were the first to implement the online appointment system through eMedischedule.com in Central Ohio. The online system enables our clients to make their appointments for the whole family 24/7. We have had some requests from the clients who have called our agency to make appointments for them. Our staff has very efficiently met their requests. Clients designate their age bracket when scheduling, so appropriate staffing and vaccine needs can be determined. The system also shows the client flow during the day.
Outcomes that resulted from actions taken:
Twitter: We have some individuals, large groups and media following us on Twitter which leads them to our website for detailed updates.
Web Traffic: There has been a 155% increase in our website traffic between September and October when we revamped our website front page. The flow of traffic has slowly increased each week.
Web Cam Live Feed: The feedback from our clients regarding the live webcam view was very positive. Many of them used the webcam to monitored and head to the clinic when the line became short. In addition, several news media outlets publicized the live webcam for us. Some clients reported traveling from other counties because of the live web cam feed.
Online Appointment System: The online appointment system made a total of 3686 appointments from December 15 to December 22, of which a little more than 500 appointments were made by the agency staff and more than 3100 appointments were made by clients online. This system has reduced the use of public health resources that would be have to be used if we continued with mass clinics. The clinic flow has been very efficient, the clients have not had to wait in line more than 10-20 minutes from the time they come in, and we are able to manage the clinic with 8 staff including contractors/volunteers nurses. This compares to the dozens of staff, volunteers, contractors, agency partners needed to stage a mass clinic. Cost savings have not yet been quantified as information is still being complied.
Bottom line: We have not had any significant traffic backups or waits in line exceeding half hour since the first appointment only clinic. The appointment system is working very well. Ohio Health Grady Memorial Hospital has provided their newly built unfurnished facility (at no cost) to run our appointment only clinic. It has been convenient for agency staff, has sufficient parking, easy access and the equipment does not have to be moved after each clinic. Appointments have allowed for better planning with regard to staffing and vaccine needs. All the steps we have taken have reassured our residents that we are doing everything possible to make H1N1 immunization clinics efficient and user-friendly for them.

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