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How Top Health Systems are Scaling COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduling with Kyruus

September 8, 2021: Amazon Elasticsearch Service has been renamed to Amazon OpenSearch Service. See details.

Authored by Chris Gervais, Chief Technology Officer at Kyruus. The content and opinions in this post are those of the third-party author and AWS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this post. How Top Health Systems are Scaling COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduling with Kyruus

The last few months have brought a lot of highs: the approval of multiple COVID-19 vaccines, the vaccination of more than 86 million Americans, and an overall decline in cases nationally. At Kyruus, we have celebrated the success of our health system customers in facilitating vaccine access, who through our partnership, have scheduled over 400,000 vaccine appointments.

After a year in quarantine, for many, there is finally a sense of hope. Yet, even as states continue to roll back restrictions, a significant barrier exists between our current state and achieving a new normal: vaccinating the public. While the country and our healthcare organizations have learned a lot in the first phases of the vaccine rollout, particularly through the process of vaccinating their frontline staff, scaling operations to meet the broader demand and doing so successfully will be challenging. To navigate the next several weeks, they will need a better way to handle the scheduling process.

The Need for an Easier Way to Schedule COVID-19 Vaccines

Despite recent improvements, there has been a lot of negative coverage around access to vaccine appointments: websites crashes, confusing booking workflows, and various barriers like language, preventing people from getting appointments easily. And now, the recent increase in the number of eligible people has only exacerbated the issue.

Knowing that they needed a way to handle this demand while maintaining access to their other services, the majority of Kyruus’ customers turned to technology. For some, this meant attempting to repurpose existing online scheduling functionality. For others, it meant looking beyond what they had and investing in new solutions to make it easier – and more scalable – for both existing patients and the broader community to schedule appointments. However, across the board, two things were clear. One, they needed a solution that was intuitive and consumer-friendly in nature: removing friction from the process was the primary goal. Two, they needed a solution and a vendor relationship that could scale with their needs and those of their patients. For some, existing systems didn’t have these capabilities or if they did, partners were not always agile enough to pivot quickly with timelines and vaccine quantities changing daily.

How Kyruus Has Helped Our Health System Customers Book 400K+ Vaccine Visits to Date

At Kyruus, our goal is to connect patients with the right care, whether they look online, call in, or visit a care site. We offer industry-leading provider search and scheduling solutions to hospitals and health systems and partner closely with our customer base to understand and adapt to evolving industry needs. At the beginning of the pandemic, like many others, we asked ourselves, “How can we better support our customers and rapidly build on what we have?” We started by extending our core capabilities to enable online scheduling for COVID-19 tests, virtual care visits, and more recently, we enabled online scheduling for vaccine visits. To date, people have scheduled more than 400,000 vaccines through the more than a dozen health systems who have enabled this functionality. We have been able to do this, while meeting our customers’ objectives of delivering a patient friendly booking experience at scale because of our ability to:

Expand on our existing scheduling capabilities and EHR integrations

Kyruus offers intuitive online scheduling within the ProviderMatch for Consumers solution for websites and mobile apps. Building upon our existing workflow, we expanded our functionality to meet the needs of vaccine scheduling, for example, by adding validation questions to confirm that the person meets current criteria. Healthcare organizations can also enable scheduling online through direct integrations with their EHR platform(s) or through Kyruus’ stand-alone appointment management solution for a more seamless experience. Moreover, by leveraging best practices from dozens of online scheduling implementations, we’ve been able to take customers live more quickly.

This was particularly important to one of our customers, Banner Health. “ProviderMatch was integral to our ability to quickly deploy online booking for COVID-19 vaccines as soon as we were able to start offering them to healthcare workers across our communities,” said Christen Castellano, Vice President of Customer Experience Channels at Banner Health. “With support from Kyruus, we’ve been able to deliver on our commitment to friction-less access even in the face of complex and rapidly-changing circumstances.”

Build on AWS to scale our service effectively

We are honored to serve over 70 of the country’s leading health systems. Some work with us to offer online scheduling for vaccine visits and others do not. However, serving all of our customers and the various ways they use our platform meant building on AWS to take advantage of secure, elastic capabilities that can easily scale with their needs and ours. To ensure we could reliably meet their needs, as well as sustain dramatic surges in platform use related to vaccine scheduling, we extended our architecture through our partnership with AWS. Today, we use Amazon EC2 to simply and securely add capacity to our apps and Amazon OpenSearch Service (successor to Amazon Elasticsearch Service) for search, taking advantage of the open-source, RESTful, distributed search and analytics engine to assist patients navigating care options. This fully managed service, along with other key AWS technologies, provides the availability, scalability, and security that production workloads require. 

Capture and share best practices from across our customer base

When it comes to scheduling COVID-19 vaccines, online or over the phone, the process is new for everyone – and it has very much been an iterative process. We have been able to tap into our customer base, which spans the country and is composed of organizations of all sizes, to find out what is working and what is not. For example, when they were able to book patients in phase one, one customer wanted to promote via email and across their social channels. Instead, our team recommended they take a phased approach to outreach, only creating demand for the number of appointments they had, which prevented their site from crashing. We’ve worked to collect these examples, come up with solutions, and provide them to customers. Additionally, we’ve facilitated discussions, as well as written blogs to share the insights with others.

Looking Ahead: Supporting Customers as They Prepare for Rollout of the Vaccine to the General Public

Over the last few years, Kyruus has continuously expanded its online scheduling platform to go beyond provider appointments, allowing customers to also surface other appointment options, such as urgent care and retail clinic visits. The COVID-19 vaccine offering builds on a wide range of additional expansions in the past year alone, including online booking for COVID-19 testing, virtual care, mammogram, and flu vaccine appointments. As the needs of our health system customers and their communities continue to evolve, we will too. Whether it is updating validation questions or simply continuing to share best practices, we will look for new ways to improve our solution and prepare our customers for the general public rollout phase so they can do what they do best – serve their communities’ healthcare needs.

To learn more about Kyruus and how we’re helping leading health systems streamline COVID-19 vaccine booking, visit our COVID-19 Resource Center.

Chris Gervais

Chris Gervais

Chris Gervais is Chief Technology Officer and Chief Security Officer at Kyruus, responsible for the company's technology vision, strategy and translation into products across Kyruus and HealthSparq business units. Additionally, Chris drives the corporate information security strategy and teams for our cloud-based products. He has more than 20 years of technology and product development experience, including a decade in the healthcare industry.