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States Turn to Google Cloud to Address COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Challenges

Analysis  |  By Mandy Roth  
   March 22, 2021

Vaccine solution creates scheduling and distribution efficiencies, and provides data-sharing capabilities. 

In a vaccine rollout that has encountered problems across the country, some have wondered why Big Tech companies haven't stepped in with a solution to help vaccinate the American populace more rapidly and efficiently. Turns out, Google Cloud has, and five states are relying on the company's Intelligent Vaccine Impact (IVIs) to assist with COVID-19 vaccine information, scheduling, distribution, and analytics.

In addition, "We’re solving discrete issues like enabling data sharing and analytics from multiple vaccine sites or providing key metrics back to individual sites," said Thomas Kurian, MBA, CEO of Google Cloud, in a blog posted today.

"Ultimately, our goal with these initiatives is to help stop the spread of the virus and get vaccines to more people quickly," a Google Cloud spokesperson told HealthLeaders. "Our IVIs solution helps increase vaccine availability and equitable access to those who need it, and assists governments in building awareness, confidence, and acceptance of vaccines. We designed our solution to easily integrate with existing technologies, complementing rather than replacing existing systems, knowing that states will administer their vaccine distributions in unique ways."

When asked whether the company has had discussions with the Biden Administration about deploying solutions nationally, the spokesperson said Google Cloud leadership has "been in contact with the Administration and public health officials at all levels across the U.S., and developed solutions that meet state needs. Our solution can be deployed nationally as well, and we are available and willing to support the federal government—and other governments around the world—as they need."

Kurian's blog outlines how Arizona, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon, and Virginia are employing the technology.

  • Arizona: Google Cloud and MTX Group worked with Arizona’s Department of Health Services to build an end-to-end vaccine management distribution system to enable 4 million citizens to schedule and receive a COVID-19 vaccine. To date, of the 2.6 million vaccines administered, the Google Cloud system booked almost 1.5 million appointments, including more than 150,000 in the first two hours the site launched.
     
  • Massachusetts: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is working with the company to launch a vaccine pre-registration system to help ramp up its vaccination efforts and eliminate the need for users to repeatedly search to find appointments throughout the state.
     
  • North Carolina: More than 2 million North Carolinians have used solutions deployed by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, including online tools to help residents determine eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine and then locate the closest vaccine provider. The solution employs Google Maps Platform APIs to enable users to search by zip code, current location, or current map view, and is updated regularly with the latest available provider information.
     
  • Oregon: The Oregon Health Authority (OHA), in partnership with Google Cloud and SpringML, built Get Vaccinated Oregon, a vaccine eligibility screening and scheduling solution to help increase the vaccine rate in the state. In addition, in partnership with local healthcare providers, information about mass vaccination events is communicated to residents in local communities.
     
  • Virginia: When the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) launched its COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration campaign, Vaccinate Virginia, "initially, Virginia localities had implemented individual COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration data collection systems, providing little insight into priority groups and allocation strategy," Kurian writes. "VDH knew they needed an auto-scaling, resilient platform, and selected Google Cloud and partner SpringML to build it. VDH also wanted to import all of the previously collected data so any user from one of the participating localities could check the central site and find their information in the system." In the first 24 hours of launch, 200,00 pre-registrations were made; by the end of the first week more than 400,000 people were in the system. By the end of February, the state had collected more than 1.9 million records.

Google Cloud did not disclose pricing details for deploying these solutions.

With data privacy and security paramount these days, HealthLeaders inquired what measures were being taken to protect data.

"IVIs is built on Google Cloud’s secure, reliable infrastructure and is compliant with industry-wide regulations such as HIPAA and FedRAMP," said the spokesperson. "IVIs customers control their own data, backed by Google Cloud’s robust compliance and technical controls to keep data private and secure. To be abundantly clear—as always, Google Cloud does not use nor access customer data in Google Cloud for advertising purposes or sell data to third parties."

“We are available and willing to support the federal government—and other governments around the world—as they need.”

Mandy Roth is the innovations editor at HealthLeaders.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

The solution is available to support federal and state vaccine initiatives.

Google Cloud is working with states to increase vaccine availability, provide equitable access, and assist governments in building awareness, confidence, and acceptance of vaccines.

Measures are in place to comply with regulations and data security and privacy.


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