New Digital Tools Help Simplify COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduling
Feb 10, 2021
Sutter Health

The Sutter Health network continues to advance its digital capabilities to offer safe, convenient, affordable and seamless care for patients and clinicians during the pandemic. The organization recently launched an online COVID-19 vaccination scheduling feature on its website to allow patients to schedule their vaccine appointments based on their geographic location.

This new feature is an important step in providing patients access to the COVID-19 vaccine as California moves through its tiered-based system.

“We are committed to getting as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible,” noted Albert Chan, M.D., chief of digital health for Sutter Health. “Our goal with these new digital tools is to make it a simple and easy process for all our patients throughout Northern California.”

How It Works

Eligible Sutter patients can easily schedule and confirm a vaccine appointment online in just a couple minutes:

  • Patients will first sign in or enroll in My Health Online to schedule a first dose appointment by selecting “COVID-19 Vaccination – First Dose: Sutter Clinic” in the appointment options.
  • Eligibility Pre-Screening – Patients will then be prescreened for eligibility by answering a few simple questions online.
  • Online Self-Scheduling – Eligible patients can then choose a COVID Vaccine clinic near them and book an appointment time.
  • Appointment Reminders – Patients will receive a follow-up message to remind them about their scheduled visit.
  • Two Dose Scheduling – Second doses will be scheduled during the first visit. Patients will receive a follow-up reminder for their second scheduled appointment.

How the Busy Flu Vaccination Season Helped Prepare Sutter for COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

With fears of getting both COVID-19 and the flu, people throughout Northern California safeguarded their health and the health of their families by showing up in droves to receive the flu shot last fall.

In 2020-2021, 189.4 million flu vaccines have been distributed in the U.S., compared to 174 million in the 2019-2020 flu season according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As an integrated network, Sutter Health has administered more than 211,000 flu visits since Sept. 6 with 60% of those appointments scheduled online. The insights we gained by launching and testing the digital flu scheduling feature were key in helping us prepare for the COVID vaccine rollout.

“Vaccinating hundreds of thousands of Californians in a four month time span can pose its challenges, especially with added COVID-19 safety protocols in place,” said Guy Tennyson, director of Sutter Health’s Digital Patient Experience. “Adding an online scheduling feature helped streamline the flu vaccination process and helped protect the health of more than 125,000 patients who used the digital scheduling feature to book their appointments.”

To date, 60% of COVID vaccine appointments have been scheduled using Sutter’s online feature.

“With this added scheduling tool in place, we can continue to improve the patient experience and help alleviate large call volumes to our appointment phone lines,” said Tennyson.

COVID-19 Vaccine Resources

Sutter Health is deploying COVID-19 vaccines as quickly as possible across our integrated network in guidance from public health agencies. In addition to booking patient vaccination appointments online, we are standing up large-scale vaccine clinics throughout our network, working with public health agencies to establish mass vaccination sites and staffing a dedicated phone line for qualified patients to schedule vaccine appointments. Patients who are highest risk according the government guidance are prioritized.

“We understand the demand for the COVID-19 vaccine is very high and scheduling millions of patients isn’t so simple,” said Tennyson. “Based on the current and expected demand, we continue to scale up our digital capabilities with a commitment to delivering a great experience during the vaccination process.”

Appointment availability will expand as we receive more vaccine and open large-scale and drive-through clinics. Due to the high level of demand for COVID-19 vaccinations, you may experience delays while scheduling your appointment. Please do not contact your provider’s office – they’re not able to book appointments or provide scheduling exceptions. Please continue to check Sutter’s vaccine website for updates and watch this short video for helpful tips on how to book a vaccination appointment.

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