With a Point of Distribution system for COVID-19 vaccines going operational January 2021 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, the 30th Medical Group has since been working continuously to improve their POD efficiency and ease of use.
For those who are unfamiliar, a POD is used for mass distribution of medications during contingency situations, making it an efficient way to reach a large population in a short amount of time.
“The overall workflow concept for the POD is a horseshoe,” explained Maj. Jen Wang, 30th MDG Diagnostics & Therapeutics Flight Commander. “Patients enter through the main entrance, follow along a ‘horseshoe’ staged flow to complete check-in, screening, admin, check-out and observation. This overall design did not change, but we did refine processes along the way. We would screen patients while they wait in line to offer them an opportunity to speak with a provider; separated a line for patients who normally would not receive care here at the MDG, and thus require registration prior to check-in. During surge flow, we have built in back-up plans to scale up stations.”
As the first shipments of COVID-19 vaccine arrived, the 30th MDG had the opportunity to test their POD system. They quickly studied their initial workflows and started to adjust their scheduling, allocation and doses based on lessons learned from the early runs.
“One of the biggest lessons learned through these PODs is to allocate a variety of patients per hour during our event planning,” said Wang. “For example, first dose, second dose, high-risk, contractors, etc. We found that focusing on one group of patients only, did not maximize our hourly throughput. By scattering the different patient groups into each hour, we allowed each of our stations to function maximally.”
In addition to internal reviews, the Med Group also incorporated feedback from initial POD users looking to simplify the scheduling process. This led to another major adjustment, the use of online scheduling through EventBrite to help minimize patient wait times while receiving the vaccine.
“The 30th Medical Group was searching for an efficient method to schedule appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine, and Eventbrite was one of the most commonly used platforms across the US for scheduling COVID-19 vaccine appointments,” said Maj Patrick Meade, 30th MDG Covid-19 Operations flight commander.
After running trials on EventBrite with a smaller, more controlled POD event, the 30th MDG decided on using a combination of pre-arranged online event scheduling and coordination through the various Unit Control Centers on base to maximize vaccine distribution and provide flexibility when there are delays and event cancellations.
“As our community became more familiar with Eventbrite, we’ve been able to schedule as many as 1000 personnel within 48 hours,” said Meade. “The added benefit of mass communication to members who have signed up for a vaccine event was a driving factor in choosing a platform like EventBrite. Overall, we have been able to communicate changes to patients quite successfully. We understand there is always room for improvement, but we feel very confident in its continued use to schedule and distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.”
The 30th MDG plans to continue using EventBrite for their COVID-19 vaccine scheduling moving forward. Their homepage can be found at www.30medicalgroup.eventbrite.com.
Beneficiaries can monitor this website for information about upcoming PODs, however the POD events will require a promotion code to access the appointment times. These promotion codes will be distributed to the patient population currently eligible to receive the vaccine through the 30th MDG.
Members and beneficiaries can also follow updates on the Medical Group Facebook page at www.facebook.com/30thMedicalGroup or call 805-606-CARE option 1 to hear current COVID-19 vaccine information or get information about promo codes for upcoming events.