On March 25, 2021, The Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (NRHI) brought together state and regional leaders to highlight successes and challenges to equitable COVID-19 Vaccination efforts.
Common themes emerged throughout:
- Data. We must use data to identify highest risk populations and inform allocation of the still limited supply of vaccines. To do this most effectively we need to improve data capture by race and ethnicity. The Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy reported that some states are making progress by encouraging, incenting, and even requiring providers to capture this data during each patient encounter. At the regional level, organizations like the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ) are leveraging private and public data sources to develop public tools combining clinical, demographic, and SDoH data to identify and prioritize high risk communities.
- Partnerships. For maximum success, we must leverage existing partnerships and continue to build new, trusted partnerships with and across communities. The Washington Health Alliance was invited to engage and support acceleration of vaccine distribution. They were asked because “the Alliance has a unique position in the market to see this pandemic from all sides. We [the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the Business Health Trust] want you at the table for your practical insights and for the deep relationships you have in our region and state.” Through these partnerships, they are supporting pop-up clinics bringing business and pharmacies together to support safe reopening.
- Community Engagement and Education. Common Ground Health has furthered relationships with community members conducting “empathy interviews” with residents to better understand what they know about the vaccine, where are they getting information from, and who their trusted sources are. They have used this information to successfully develop educational campaigns leveraging a speakers bureau, door to door canvassing, and table talk discussions.
- Leveraging lessons learned from COVID testing. In Cleveland, Better Health Partnerships has expanded on existing partnerships with payers and faith-based organizations developed early in the pandemic to support COVID-19 testing. They have assisted with convening, data analysis, strategy design and project execution and have successfully expanded services beyond testing to vaccinations and distribution of health, safety, and education, and food distribution kits with a focus on minority and low-income populations.