How Technology Can Help Manage the Crush of Vaccine Demand

March 24, 2021

Ryan Younger, vice president of marketing, Virtua Health

On January 13, the headline on read “Major expansion of New Jersey COVID vaccine eligibility starts tomorrow.” Overnight, 4.47 million New Jersey residents age 65 and older and those between 16 and 64 with certain medical conditions became eligible to receive a vaccination at one of the state’s 123 approved sites.

“New Jersey opened up the criteria to a huge number of people in the public,” says Ryan Younger, vice president of marketing at Virtua Health in southern New Jersey. “People were calling every which way — it was just a huge outpouring.” Virtua operates one of the state’s vaccine “mega-sites” in a former Lord & Taylor department store. “In the first week we had over 250,000 online form completions for appointments and scheduled more than 50,000 appointments, up to the capacity we had,” Younger says.

Fortunately, Virtua had launched a chatbot solution from Loyal the month before. “Loyal has just been a game changer for us,” says Angela Collins, assistant vice president of access and navigation at Virtua, departments overseeing 2.5 million customer interactions a year.

Younger adds, “It just came in handy that we were able to stand that up before the crunch of the vaccine center, because then it was able to offload some of the demand. I mean, the demand was just unbelievable.”

The chatbot helped website visitors navigate their way to a scheduled vaccination appointment either via self-scheduling or with the help of a live agent.

The chatbot solution is what Brian Gresh, president of Loyal, calls a “global AI model,” meaning it aggregates learning across all organizations. “As conversations come in — we call those utterances — as people type into the chatbot, we capture those utterances. We’ve had millions of messages go through our platform,” says Gresh.

“We de-identify all of those conversations, but we use those questions to train our global AI model. The model then understands what’s a billing question. What’s an access question. What’s a scheduling question. What’s a COVID question. And those learnings apply to all of our clients.”

Learn more: When Your State Opens Vaccine Eligibility Floodgates, How Do You Keep Up with Demand?

Best regards,
Matt Humphrey

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