The COVID-19 pandemic shifted healthcare models and propelled digital solutions into mainstream healthcare. Canadians are demanding user-friendly online solutions from the healthcare industry – with the expectation that it will prevail long after the pandemic ends.
More than ever, patients are being proactive about preventive care, more willing to change doctors if unsatisfied with care or customer service, feel more comfortable using technology to improve/maintain personal health, and using tools/ratings to find the best quality of care and customer service.
It’s clear that virtual care is more than just a trend; It’s here to stay. It will continue to evolve and play an important role in how the public access and receive care.
Experts predict that in a decade from now, healthcare, as we know it today, will no longer exist. So, how can health teams, networks and professionals cater to the growing needs of healthcare consumers? What has changed over the past two years that has caused such a dramatic shift towards telehealth? What does healthcare in Canada look like now, and in the future?
See what experts say about the future of healthcare in Canada, why telehealth will be increasingly important post-pandemic, and what patients look for in a provider in EMPOWER Health’s infographic, Digital Health: Data, Trends, and Opportunities.
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EMPOWER Health is a personalized online appointment booking platform and health service directory that To see how EMPOWER Health’s EMR-integrated Online Appointment Booking can help your healthcare organization get through the digital front door click here.
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Welcome to the first issue of EMPOWER Health’s monthly Release Notes. This month, we have several new features to share, along with some exciting news for healthcare organizations. (MyVaccines.ca Launched September 1st with more features added monthly!)
Vaccine Inventory Management 2.0
One of the challenges our pharmacy clients encountered last year with Flu and COVID-19 vaccinations was limited supply. Normally, booking logic for online appointment booking tools take into account time and practitioner availability. But many of them had to limit the number of appointments they could take due to limited inventory and had to do this manually.
The advancement of our inventory management now directly ties it into our online booking system and can not only display your ability to deliver vaccines on our locator, but limit the number of bookings based on your supply automatically.
We’ve also tied the data into our waitlist management system. If you have no more vaccine inventory, the patients can go on your waitlist. If you have new stock, it can automatically trigger notices to patients on the waitlist about new availability.
All of these enhancements are designed to reduce the amount of manual time required to manage vaccination appointments by putting real time information in the hands of the patients.
As a helpful addition, we’ve also included online resources and information about vaccines and vaccine preventable diseases – available to both patients and practitioners. Some of these resources include the CARD system, a vaccine hesitancy support guide for patients and practitioners.
New OnlineBooking Features
New online appointment booking features make it easier for healthcare professionals to customize the booking process to fit the unique needs of their organization. Now, EMPOWER Health users can easily add customizable checkboxes and fields to online appointment booking pages and processes, such as for pre-booking, on-booking and post-booking.
Healthcare professionals have the ability to add a “who are you booking for” field on the booking page so users can book appointments for others. This is useful for a caregiver booking an appointment for a companion or a caretaker booking an appointment for a minor.
Another tool which will become valuable for clinics and pharmacies administering vaccines during the 2021-2022 flu season is the ability to automatically schedule appointments for primer and booster doses and other vaccines. If a patient needs a follow-up appointment, it can be automatically scheduled on a future date. If a patient has to rebook an appointment, they can do so directly on the platform, eliminating the need for patients to call the office and play phone tag with administrative staff to manage their appointments.
New Centralized Waitlist System
We learned that many patients looking for vaccinations are flexible to where they receive it, and like COVID19 vaccinations, many patients were putting themselves on multiple locations’ waitlists. This creates an inefficiency for the whole system. To address this, we’ve built into the EMPOWER Health locator a regional and location-specific waitlist feature.
Starting September 1st, anyone can sign-up to a vaccination waitlist for a specific location, group of locations, or a region, and be notified when any organization has vaccinations available. If someone received their vaccination somewhere else, the system will automatically cancel the other appointments and notify the organizations. We expect this to make the lives of healthcare organization administrators easier as they don’t have to manually remove patients from waitlists. It will also save the patients time as they don’t have to make appointments at dozens of locations.
Advanced Automatic Email Reminders
Waitlists and email communications are vital when managing expectations of potential patients. An integrated communications strategy can improve client satisfaction and retention and boost effectiveness and efficiency for healthcare organizations.
Now, healthcare professionals can create unlimited customized email and text reminders for different appointment types. Patients will receive automated appointment reminders by email or SMS, and can confirm their appointment electronically. Appointment reminders can also include pre-screening questions, appointment instructions or links to specific forms.
For example, vaccination consent forms can be filled out online by patients before their appointment. Any last minute changes to where or how a patient attends their appointment can be easily sent beforehand. After an appointment, you can send post-appointment follow-up communications like thank-you emails, feedback surveys or any supporting documentation, all with a click of a button.
MyFluShot.ca is Now MyVaccines.ca
During 2020, we ran an Ontario wide campaign called MyFluShot.ca, in partnership with Immunize Canada, to encourage healthcare organizations to provide greater transparency to real-time vaccine availability inventory.
Based on it’s success we launched MyCovid19Vaccine.ca – as a dedicated service to allow Canadians to find and book available COVID19 Vaccinations – which saw incredible demand as the provincial governments rolled out vaccines to various cohorts of patients. It exposed the fact that nationally we as an industry can do a lot better in helping Canadian’s locate vaccinations, especially during times of high demand and limited supply.
To help increase transparency and equity of vaccine delivery, we’ve evolved MyFluShot.ca and MyCovid19Vaccine.ca into simply MyVaccines.ca – a national vaccine locator for all vaccines. Our vision with this platform is to have vaccine availability and inventory data from all vaccinators across Canada, and to make it easy for all Canadian’s find and book their next vaccination. This effort builds on the successful pilots and partnerships with organizations across the healthcare industry in Canada.
MyVaccines.ca makes vaccinations easy for healthcare professionals as well. It’s the easiest and fastest way to let the community know what vaccines you have available – without picking up the phone. It will improve healthcare navigation of the whole system, thereby increasing effectiveness and efficiency across networks. MyVaccines.ca has advanced features like simplified vaccine inventory management, multi-dose scheduling, automatic email reminders and centralized wait lists that make managing vaccination appointments a breeze. In the MyVaccines.ca portal, healthcare professionals can also update their operating and holiday hours, the languages available at their clinic and other healthcare services they offer, easily directing patients to their location.
As of September 1st, patients can sign-up to be notified when flu shots are in stock. Start accepting pre-bookings today with a free professional account.
EMPOWER Health is a personalized online appointment booking platform and health service directory that help Canadians find and access the care they need.
EMPOWER Health’s digital health solutions include national directories of healthcare organizations, online appointment booking that integrates with clinical workflows and clinical software, wait-times services, centralized wait-lists email notification system and simplified vaccine inventory management.
Using the best available scientific evidence and the input of leading experts in infectious diseases, public health and epidemiology, the website was developed to help people of different ages and states of health better understand the factors that affect the risk of getting COVID-19 when visiting or gathering with others.
As vaccination programs ramp up across the country, restrictions are slowly loosening. Canadians want more guidance on what fully-vaccinated people can do safely. Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says, “We would like to enable people to take themselves through [this] kind of risk assessment while respecting local public health requirements.”
To use the tool, you will be asked a series of questions related to your vaccination and health status, and that of the people you want to gather with, details of the event and what the local infection rates are.
“This tool uses the best available scientific evidence to support people of all ages and states of health to make more informed decisions about gathering with others during the pandemic,” says Dr. Samir Sinha, NIA Director of Health Policy Research. “After working through the questions, people are assigned a risk level in accordance with the gathering they are considering, along with public health advice on how to meet more safely with others.”
Based on your answers, you will get a “risk score” from Low to High, a personalized report to help you understand the level of risk associated with your planned visit or gathering, and tips on how to make your visit or gathering as safe as possible for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The vision behind the tool is to prepare you and your loved ones to better discuss the potential risks and benefits of visiting or gathering with each other and in the end make a well-informed decision on how to make any necessary visits or gatherings as safe as possible.
“These risk assessments depend on your individual risk, who you’re about to get into contact with, as well as the epidemiology of your specific community,” says Dr. Theresa Tam.
As of June 25th 2021, 75% of the population 12 years and older has received at least one dose and 22% is fully vaccinated. However, COVID-19 remains an important public health issue as transmission with new variants of concern continue to circulate. Careful assessment before deciding to visit, gather, or meet with others remains vitally important.
To learn more about the COVID-19 Risk Calculator or to use it for yourself, click here.
Disclosure: EMPOWER Health helped the NIA build the online experience of the risk assessment tool, and provided technical guidance along with testing. As always, our team is proud of our work with Public Health Organizations to help conquer COVID! Visit us at empower.ca!