Daryl Rolley, Medicat CEO, Forbes Technology Council Member
This article first appeared in Forbes Tech Council, January 11, 2022: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2022/01/11/setting-up-a-successful-employee-vaccine-verification-program/
Recently, President Biden’s administration announced a private-sector Covid-19 vaccine mandate for enterprises with 100 or more employees, and there are heavy fines for non-compliance. While it is not clear how this mandate will be challenged in the courts, businesses need to be prepared to comply with the details of this mandate, and there is preciously little time to achieve this.
The reality is beginning to sink in that most, if not all, enterprises have almost no experience or expertise surrounding the concept and workflow processes of “vaccine verification.” There has never been a mandate like this before, and the typical enterprise has never had to verify any vaccine before, let alone for their entire workforce within such a tight time frame. Companies who find themselves falling under this mandate will need to know and track almost immediately who has or has not been vaccinated to keep their operations running smoothly.
The first task will be to build a plan to manage proof of vaccination and/or weekly testing requirements for employees. In addition, companies need to create a process and philosophy for how they collect, evaluate and approve/deny medical and religious exemptions.
This may all seem simple, but managing this process for companies that have tens of thousands of employees across the country will be daunting. What information needs to be collected for exemptions? How do you standardize information coming from thousands of employees? What data protection needs to be in place to collect and house vaccine records safely? How do you communicate requirements to employees to ensure timely compliance? The list of questions goes on.
For larger companies with significant employee bases, trying to manage this volume of data cannot be done effectively without leveraging technology. Leaders need to evaluate their options quickly. What software is available from reputable, experienced providers to manage this vaccine verification process? How do you implement this software in the enterprise in such a short period of time?
Companies will need to quickly evaluate the reputable software firms that are experts in vaccine verification and have long-standing, time-tested software solutions proven to solve this challenge. There is a risk that companies may select a provider that only started operations during the pandemic and may not have the expertise or time-tested solutions that can be relied on to be defect-free and scalable.
A successful verification program will need dedicated and trained resources to succeed. Companies will need to determine what assets they are going to rely on to manage this time-critical initiative. How will you confirm that your entire employee base has provided approved Covid-19 vaccine records? Will you manually verify these vaccine records? Will you set up interfaces with various state immunization registries to electronically verify employee vaccine records? Will you try to assign existing staff members to manage your vaccine verification program or hire someone new? Will you look to find a partner who has been doing this prior to the pandemic and has deep expertise in these processes?
These and other questions need to be answered quickly so that a company’s vaccine verification program can be successful.
Finally, all of this newly generated vaccine and exemption data will need to be stored in a way so that it is readily available to run a safe operation within a secure environment. Do you have an analytics and reporting engine to provide real-time reports on the status of your vaccination program? Is your vaccine and exemption data stored in an encrypted, HIPAA-compliant software system? Do you have peace of mind knowing that all of your employee’s confidential data is secure?
If a vaccine mandate is implemented, companies will need to move swiftly to answer the above questions, find suitable partners to help drive their program and make course corrections as new information continues to emerge.
Given this short runway a mandate entails, the emphasis should be on finding existing, time-tested, proven solutions from reputable business partners. Additionally, keeping the overall vaccine verification solution as simple as possible will be paramount. Unproven, untested solutions are risky, and any unnecessary complexity will be the enemy of success.