Case Example

Managing Vaccines and Maintaining Immunization Records through Effective Use of Human Resources

The Problem!
Canadian MoneyIn one province, public health and primary care were responsible for the provision of immunizations in their community. The description of one case follows:

  1. Costs for vaccines were rising significantly due to wastage with unused out-of-date vaccines in primary care clinics;
  2. Managing cold chain breaks to avoid spoiling vaccines was a challenging time commitment to maintain for the primary care nurses;
  3. Primary care found it difficult to have the right type and amount of vaccines for their needs;
  4. Picking up vaccines from public health was a burden for primary care staff;
  5. Public health had difficulties keeping track of immunization records for children in their community;
  6. School suspensions were on the rise for students with incomplete immunizations. In this province the law permits school suspensions for inadequate immunizations;
  7. Parents were frustrated keeping track of their children’s immunizations given that public health and primary care were both providing their children with vaccines.

The Solution
IMG_Check_FridgePublic health launched a pickup and delivery system to supply primary care with vaccines and obtain immunization records from them in return. The new procedure is outlined as follows:

  1. A delivery staff member, who did not have a professional background, was trained to:
    • Check the fridges for cold chain breaks;
    • Assess each primary care practice’s supply needs for vaccines based on past use and anticipated future use;
    • Deliver the required vaccines to the primary care clinic as per the above assessment;
    • Move vaccines which were close to expiring to the front of the fridge for quick use, and;
    • Pick up immunization records that were monitored by primary care staff to enter into public health’s provincial database;
  2. Questions and consultations about immunizations were referred by the delivery staff to public health nurses who were available by phone and were qualified to respond to their questions;
  3. Other questions relevant to public health, such as infectious disease management, were also referred to public health staff;
  4. The delivery staff member also delivered other relevant health promotion materials and information from the health unit to practices as was needed.

The Outcomes
There were a number of outcomes of this collaboration including:

  1. Significantly reduced vaccine wastage, which resulted in sizable cost savings to the province;
  2. Increased efficiency for the primary care clinic’s practice in maintaining sufficient and appropriate supplies of vaccines;
  3. Increased accuracy and currency of immunization records for the community (public health, primary care and families);
  4. Significantly reduced child school suspensions due to lack of up-to-date immunizations;
  5. Increased immunization coverage in the community;
  6. Increased primary care access to consultations from health unit staff on a number of relevant public health topics.

The Key Facilitator to Ensure Success

Optimal Use of Human Resources
In this case, one delivery staff member was hired, trained, and deployed to manage a role that was well within her scope as a non-professional. This was a cost-effective use of human resources. She was trained to know what was within and outside of her skill set. She referred to the professional staff on issues that were beyond her knowledge and skills in a highly effective manner.

The staff member also had extremely effective communication skills, as well as, effective personal qualities, knowledge, and skills which are factors influencing successful collaboration at the interpersonal and intrapersonal level.

Related IconRelated: Effective Communication Skills
Related: Personal Qualities, Knowledge, and Skills