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211 Iowa Uses iCarol ReferralQ to Schedule COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments

Background

Shortly after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 211 Iowa began providing a COVID hotline in partnership with the Iowa Department of Health. The hotline provides Iowans with accurate information about the Coronavirus, preventing infection, symptoms, and how to obtain a COVID test if one is concerned that may have contracted the virus.

When it was time to plan the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in Iowa, 211 and the Iowa Department of Health again partnered to provide a Vaccine Hotline, focused on helping schedule vaccine appointments for individuals who were unable to navigate online appointment setting systems.

The Challenge

The project moved fast in preparation for vaccine administration to begin, and so 211 was working on a very tight timeline. In just a few weeks, they had to have the infrastructure of the program set up, including the technology to handle calls, data collection, documentation, and appointment scheduling and workflows. Preparation also required hiring and onboarding 75 temporary staff to answer and document the calls to the vaccine hotline.

At the very start of the vaccine rollout, eligibility would be limited to those aged 75 or older, with new eligibility categories opening up when possible. Experts anticipated that demand for appointments would be very high. Vaccine administrators would have an online appointment setting system for direct use by consumers, while those needing assistance would be directed to reach out to the Vaccine Hotline run by 211 Iowa. During this initial phase, eligible individuals often needed assistance with scheduling their appointments, typically due to a discomfort with technology and navigating web-based appointment scheduling systems, or lack of internet connection or electronic devices they could use to schedule online. Due to the anticipated record breaking call volume, workers would need to move quickly through the workflow in order to limit wait times and reduce abandoned calls. To assist in speedy service, the technological solution used to document the calls had to meet all the data collection and workflow requirements, yet be simple enough to not hamper the speed of call handling. Simplicity was also necessary due to the temporary nature of the workforce and limited onboarding and training time.

Finally, they required a way to have a status assigned to each call, indicating whether the vaccine appointment was successfully scheduled or not, or if the individual also needed transportation to their appointment, or other special needs and accommodations. In some cases, individuals were completely homebound and would require a health worker to come to their home to administer the vaccine. All of these needs had to be indicated in the documentation, and the chosen system had to allow for filtering of records by status.

The Solution: iCarol ReferralQ

211 Iowa chose iCarol’s ReferralQ to process calls to the Vaccine Hotline. Staff were able to create a Contact Form unique to this specific program that required only the collection of necessary data for this initiative, keeping the form short and simple and customized to this specific intake line. By adding the referral to the vaccine program to the Contact Form, and assigning the Call Form to the Vaccine ReferralQ dashboard, staff had a simple way to track the number of referrals made, and see all the statuses of the calls to the Vaccine Hotline. Using the status filtering, they could easily view any Contact Records where additional support or assistance was needed, or check on any contacts where a status was In Progress rather than Done. All the data collected during these interactions and related to the vaccine scheduling were available for contact reporting purposes, through the Statistics module of the iCarol software as well as in data exports.

Benefits

211 Iowa staff benefitted from having the ReferralQ built right into their existing solution for contact documentation and referral management, which removed the need to research and explore other software solutions for the sole purpose of administering the Vaccine Hotline. Iowa 211 staff were able to build their documentation and intake forms to the exact specifications needed for this program, keeping it simple yet effective for reporting. The simplicity of the form and setup also streamlined the training process for the 75 temporary specialists answering the line, and ensured quality in both the call handling and data collection process. Program administrators shared with iCarol that “Setting up the technology and data collection with the ReferralQ was the easiest part of the whole process [set up of the Vaccine Hotline program].”

Thanks to the iCarol ReferralQ, 211 Iowa was able to strike the balance between its requirement that the chosen system would handle multiple tasks related to the administration of the Vaccine Hotline, yet be simplistic in workflow setup and flexibility, data collection, and training for new staff.

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