Princeton,NJ/ 360prwire/ December 20/
Since December 2020, Americans have patiently waited for the Coronavirus vaccine, bringing protection against the lethal virus plaguing the globe. The initial launch of the vaccine program was turbulent and challenging, with many qualified Americans left struggling to find an appointment, dealing with extensive lineups. With the significant supply issues during the initial periods, many people were left scrambling to find a vaccine clinic with openings. These issues were multiplied by the short shelf life of cold storage vaccines, along with difficulty signing up for appointments.
Difficulty Booking Initial Appointments
While the initial rollout included seniors and at-risk populations, surges in appointments blocked countless individuals from booking their scheduled appointments. In fact, initial reports had people waking before down and logging into computers to try and secure the minimal appointments times. Elderly populations were left struggling, asking younger family members to book time slots that seemed to fill faster than the page could load.
Even further complicating the vaccine distribution was the lack of cancelations and no-shows within different facilities. With many people booking multiple vaccine sites to secure an immediate spot, many clinics were struggling to keep up with the demand. Studies have shown individuals ultimately canceled nearly 30% of all vaccine appointments, or the patient simply didn’t show up. That’s 30 doses a day in many clinics administering a hundred vaccines, which leads to excessive waste of a valuable resource.
Why Were Vaccines Discarded?
Unfortunately, cold storage vaccines have strict requirements when it comes to ensuring optimal efficiency and stability. These vaccines require specified temperatures for transportation and adequate thawing before mixing any dilution with the dosage. As such, many clinics need to plan the number of doses ahead of time to ensure a good supply is available for all appointments.
Once the vaccine is thawed or punctured, pharmacists and doctors must use it within a set time frame (often hours). For many facilities, booking for the entirety of the vaccine schedule (including the predicted cancelations and no-shows that will occur) is mandatory; individuals with set appointments require the dose. When patients cancel and can’t stick to this schedule, a vaccine location has two choices – try to fill those vacancies or discard the extra dosages.
Before Dr. B, many clinics tried to fill the cancelation and no-show appointments with individuals within proximity. Many employees were left soliciting shoppers within the center, contacting local customers, or giving the vaccine to anyone waiting for openings. Unfortunately, this practice wasn’t time-efficient, often leaving many vaccines expiring.
Dr. B Filled a Void in Healthcare
As the pandemic raged on in early 2021, Cyrus Massoumi noticed a gap in the vaccine protocol. He believed that the cancelations and surplus of vaccines should be going into the arms of Americans instead of in the trash. As such, Dr. B was founded in early 2021. The premise was simple. Anyone registered in the database would receive notification of extra vaccines available within their geographical area. Providers would simply contact the website to update their daily supply in hopes of filling the appointments.
Getting the Connections Made
Anyone struggling to find a covid vaccine entered their information into the platform’s registration page. It asked for basic information about the individual, including name, age, address, contact information, pre-existing medical conditions, and employment. Dr. B vaccine standby lists incorporated the state and local governments’ requirements, conditions, and stipulations. From there, the company would use a comprehensive algorithm to send out text messages to users should a vaccine appointment become available.
All users on the platform were organized according to need, priority, and other stipulations mandated by the government. The program required registered users to confirm the appointment quickly, often requiring immediate appointment times (within 20 minutes of the text message).
Providers registered on Dr. B simply updated their vaccine totals for the day, indicating any surplus they have available, along with the expiry of such vaccine. Confirmed appointments were sent to the vaccine clinic, providing the opportunity to receive the shot.
A Slow and Deliberate Start
The site launch was a striking success, with nearly 2.5 million users flocking to the platform hoping for an immunization text. While many assume a networking platform within the medical field would grow exponentially, Massoumi intentionally kept the launch under wraps. Instead, he connected with vulnerable communities within the United States to provide early access to the waitlist. These communities included Black, Latino-Hispanic, and Indigenous communities often overlooked in the medical community.
Providers quickly jumped on board, too, with registered clinics surpassing 750 different establishments. These clinics spread across 44 states within the United States: including high-population areas and small rural communities.
End Results Speak for Themselves
Toward the end of the campaign, Dr. B announced individuals successfully received over one million doses through the program. This program connected clinics with available individuals within their proximity, minimizing time and resources wasted overall. While the program has stopped collecting user registration, the website promises to continue pushing the medical envelope of accessibility thanks to the increased availability of vaccines. The critical US healthcare challenges currently plaguing citizens are at the forefront of the company’s goals moving forward.
As the company moves toward the next steps, Dr. B plans to prepare other models of healthcare regime, applying what worked through the pandemic into larger, expanded missions in the years to come. As the pandemic shifts the way healthcare systems function, the continued development may be a welcome change in how things function. After all, the vaccine rollout highlighted several discrepancies in healthcare: inequality, unequal distribution, and ongoing concerns for vulnerable communities. With proper management, hopefully, all programs like Dr. B can minimize the economic influences within the healthcare industry.