AWS Public Sector Blog

CANImmunize creates end-to-end vaccination app solution to help Canadians get vaccinated faster

It started as a smartphone app for Ontarians to track their families’ vaccinations and receive reminders for upcoming shots. Today, it’s an end-to-end vaccination enablement system that helps Canadians coast to coast do everything from scheduling their appointment to proving their vaccination status—all in one interface. CANImmunize uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) to scale its operations and enable hundreds of thousands of people to get vaccinated and stay on top of their vaccination status.

Long before COVID-19, the team behind CANImmunize recognized how digital technology could help immunization practice. When a local parent suggested that a digital way of tracking vaccine records would be useful, the team at CANImmunize—including chief executive officer (CEO) Dr. Kumanan Wilson, chief technology officer (CTO) Cameron Bell, and later, chief operating officer (COO) Katherine Atkinson — created the app. The original version was only available in Ontario, Canada’s largest province. Two years later, the app rolled out across the country. In 2016, the team enhanced their solution to allow users to back up their data and share it between devices. CANImmunize built this new functionality on AWS, using the AWS Canada (Central) Region, because in addition to keeping all data in country, it was simple and more cost-effective than hosting it on premises at a hospital.

Pilot launch sets the roadmap for scaling with AWS

In Fall 2020, CANImmunize worked with Bruyère Hospital in Ottawa to pilot an end-to-end vaccination tracking system for their annual flu shot campaign. The pilot helped Bruyère address the host of challenges that COVID-19 posed to their flu shot campaign—from physical distancing to the need for appointment booking and paperless documentation.

Building on their existing platform, CANImmunize rapidly added the ability for people to book vaccination appointments online, for nurses to access their patient roster and document immunizations in the CANImmunize app, and for patients to receive a digital copy of their immunization record following their shot. By using CANImmunize, the hospital was able to reduce time to immunization by 50 percent. Because everything was digital—including registration, screening, confirmation, and paperwork—it minimized the time each patient had to spend in the vaccination clinic. With this fully digital system, dubbed ClinicFlow, CANImmunize helped mitigate the risk of running immunization clinics as Ontario’s second wave picked up steam.

Helping Nova Scotia vaccinate against COVID-19

In early 2021, the provincial government of Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast, began to prepare for the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine. To address the challenge of vaccinating nearly a million people, they approached CANImmunize to customize the ClinicFlow system into a province-wide mass-immunization management system. “Nova Scotia was prescriptive—they knew exactly how they wanted their system to work,” said CANImmunize CTO Cameron Bell. The result was a vastly improved platform that helps Nova Scotians book an appointment across any administration facility—from hospitals, to long-term-care facilities, to primary care doctors, and pharmacies. “The biggest challenge was adapting the system to be able to cope with the massive spikes in traffic as users hurried to the site to find an appointment,” said Bell. “The complexities of auto-booking second dose appointments and adapting to changing vaccine supply and public health guidelines were also quite challenging.”

“One of the things that differentiates ClinicFlow from other provincial solutions is that it’s end-to-end: from appointment booking, to clinical documentation, to the administrative console. The Nova Scotia Health Department is using it to set up clinics, for issuing digital vaccine receipts, all in one system,” added Bell. “Using the one system for every COVID-19 vaccination given in the province also gives the province very good data about who has been immunized.” According to the Nova Scotia COVID-19 Dashboard,

The CANImmunize ClinicFlow system for Nova Scotia scales with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and uses AWS Elastic Beanstalk for orchestration. Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) is used for its databases, and Amazon RDS Performance Insights has been essential to better understanding and optimizing database performance. Amazon Elasticache for Redis has also been an essential tool for managing spikes in usage. Amazon Cognito helps authenticate users like nurses who use the app on their tablets in the clinics. CANImmunize also uses Amazon serverless computing for some of its processes. To date, the system has been rolled out to more than 230 facilities and administrators.

“Nova Scotia’s system is optimal,” said CEO Dr. Kumanan Wilson. “They really knew what they wanted and we worked with them to make sure their needs were met.”

As provincial governments intensify efforts to deliver second doses of COVID-19 vaccines, CANImmunize is helping prompt users to book and, if necessary, reschedule their second shot. Users can also connect directly to credible vaccine-related information,  a key step to help combat vaccine hesitancy.

Learn more about CANImmunize, the cloud for public sector healthcare, and AWS in Canada.

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