Epic, Cerner offer updates on COVID-19 vaccine rollout efforts

Cerner and Epic each announced this past week that they’ve hit milestones in their efforts to assist with COVID-19 vaccinations.  

On Friday, Cerner announced that 175 clients across 11 countries had installed its Mass Vaccination solution.  

Epic, meanwhile, said on Thursday that it was supporting 100 community-based vaccination locations across the country, with the capacity to administer 300,000 shots a day.  

“We are proud to help the health systems supporting the national goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans in the [Biden] administration’s first 100 days,” said Judy Faulkner, founder and CEO of Epic, in a statement.   

WHY IT MATTERS  

As major players in the EHR space, Epic and Cerner are well-positioned to play key roles in the effort to get the population vaccinated.  

Cerner, for instance, hosted a mass vaccination event in the Kansas City area earlier this month, joining a local countywide coalition dedicated to vaccinating residents. Currently inoculating 4,500 people every other week, the coalition says it is prepared to increase that number to 3,500 per day as supplies increase.

Cerner also pointed to the systems relying on its technology, including Cook County Health, which is administering about 18,000 vaccine doses every week, and the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Coast Guard, which are using the company’s Mass Vaccination tool.

“Having the right health technology is critically important to support health care professionals as they take on this monumental task,” said Cerner representatives in the release.  

Epic, for its part, noted that the company expects to add up to 100 additional sites in the next 30 days. The vendor also said its software is being used to administer approximately 500,000 vaccinations daily, both at mass vaccination sites and traditional clinical settings.  

It spotlighted the work of Novant Health, a North Carolina-based health system using Epic to administer nearly all of its 63,000 doses through MyChart, and UCHealth in Colorado, which is running a mass vaccination site at Coors Field.  

“Because Epic is interoperable, it is used to share vaccination information with other electronic health record systems and with state public health departments, which in turn communicate with the CDC,” said Epic representatives in a press statement.  

THE LARGER TREND  

Last year, Epic, Cerner and other top EHR vendors began to prepare their software for the highly anticipated COVID-19 vaccine rollout.   

“When it became clearer in October that an approved vaccine was likely in early 2021, we engaged with the CDC and some of its information technology suppliers in order to successfully interoperate with federal and state registries,” said Dr. David Nill, vice president and chief medical officer at Cerner, to Healthcare IT News Features Editor Bill Siwicki. “We needed to make sure that our clients were ready on the IT front to handle such a monumental and important task.”  

The two were also among the heavy-hitters that joined together to form the Vaccine Credential Initiative, aimed at developing a standard model to create a digital record of vaccination status.  

Still, the rollout hasn’t been without hiccups. A Michigan-based health system last month flagged a vulnerability in the online vaccine scheduling available through its Epic EHR that allowed users to “skip the line” for vaccinations.  

ON THE RECORD  

“Doing what often takes months, health systems have moved in a matter of days and weeks to set up locations with the technology needed to conduct mass vaccinations,” said Faulkner.  

“Cerner has the privilege of bringing together knowledge gleaned from supporting global health care organizations and applying it to improve vaccination efforts in its local community and around the world,” said Cerner representatives. “It is vital that communities across the globe join together to do their part to beat COVID-19,” they added.

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: kjercich@himss.org
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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