Vaccines: Having a Strategy When There is No Strategy

Situation: There’s no comprehensive national strategy for vaccines.

Yes, HHS, CMS and DoD have developed a skeleton plan for distribution and monitoring. But there’s no unified playbook for getting hundreds of millions of Americans inoculated against SARS-CoV-2. Detailed decision-making has been left to states. Some have chosen to be hands-on in their recommendations and others are taking a back seat, tossing the operational hot potato to providers themselves.

The resulting patchwork of guidance complicates the already daunting task facing healthcare providers charged with the quick and efficient administration of whatever doses are allotted to them. With that responsibility and a compressed timeline, we turned to Roger Ray, M.D., the chief physician executive at The Chartis Group, for how healthcare executives can act quickly and responsibly without clear guidance. Then we added a couple of notes regarding the communication of your plan.

Quick Counsel:

  • Check in and check around: Quickly create and maintain open communication channels with nearby provider organizations and community health entities. It benefits everyone if you can achieve consistency at the community level.
  • Don’t stop at the state line: Many provider organizations have patients or employees or both in more than one state. Be sure to align, if possible, with the distribution plans of your neighbors.
  • Look to the literature: When all else fails, base decisions on published studies and guidance concerning vulnerable populations.
  • Take good notes. In the absence of clear guidelines from state or federal agencies, bring together your executive, operations, clinical, marketing and comms teams to make a plan. Your people are well trained and will make the best possible decisions. Be confident in that and record your thinking so you can defend it later.
  • Communicate your strategy…whatever it is. Tell your story. Those notes you took? All of this is happening so fast, and everyone is affected, so people (everyone – the public and your employees both) will want to know what decisions you’re making about who gets doses when – and how you arrived at them. Bottom line: If you don’t talk about your strategy, someone else will.
David Shifrin
dshifrin@jarrardinc.com