It’s a story many health systems know all too well. Overwhelmed by the volume of people seeking a COVID-19 vaccination, St. Luke’s University Health Network was working hard to get the vaccine to as many eligible individuals as possible. The issue was the communication bottleneck between those who wanted the shot and the number of vaccines available.
The hospital system, made up of 12 locations across eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey, initially attempted to remedy this bottleneck with a simple online intake process that let patients fill out a questionnaire to determine their vaccine eligibility status. From there, St. Luke’s reached out to patients directly to let them know when their vaccine was available. To support the registration process, they increased staffing levels for their existing call center to meet the rapidly increasing volume of calls from patients asking about the vaccine. But they were still struggling, said Director of Marketing and Public Relations Kate Raymond.
“We essentially went from a team of around 20 people to over 100 people. Those folks would be answering calls up until eight at night every single day, and we still had a callback list of about 5,000 people daily. Our team quickly realized this was not sustainable,” Raymond said.
This was bigger than just dropped calls. For every person not receiving a callback, there was also a risk that an elderly or immunocompromised person would not be able to sign up for a vaccine and further risk contracting COVID-19.