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ServiceNow, Salesforce deliver vaccine management tech

Salesforce releases Vaccine Cloud, tools that enable tracking and distribution of COVID-19 immunizations. ServiceNow also enters the technology space.

This article was updated on Jan. 27, 2021.

Salesforce released Vaccine Cloud today, joining ServiceNow and Google in providing healthcare providers, public health agencies and employers new vaccine management tools.

Tuesday, ServiceNow released its own tool set, Vaccine Administration Management. The company named the state of North Carolina and the national government of Scotland among its customers.

Salesforce partner MTX Group built the city of Chicago's vaccine management platform, GetVaxChi, on Salesforce. Vaccine Cloud enables individuals to sign up for appointments, and healthcare providers and agencies can send appointment reminders and QR code check-ins for appointments. It also manages data all the way to inventory management, distribution, analytics and data visualization at scale, as well as follow-up communications with patients after they receive vaccinations.

Deployed over Salesforce Work.com, the Vaccine Cloud builds on contact tracing tools Salesforce introduced earlier this year. The tools caught on among state government users after Rhode Island worked with Salesforce to connect contact tracing with COVID-19 testing data. MTX Group's system, which is currently available, can also be used to manage outbreaks of other diseases such as measles, mumps and seasonal flu. MTX's system also interfaces with patients' electronic medical records.

Right now, 35 federal, state and local agencies use Vaccine Cloud, as well as dozens more healthcare providers, nonprofits and educational institutions, including California's COVID-19 preregistration pilot site, Salesforce chief medical officer Ashwini Zenooz, M.D. said.

Many of the Vaccine Cloud customers are new to Salesforce, Zenooz said. Yet Salesforce isn't likely using Vaccine Cloud as a lead-generation strategy to gain new customers, Constellation Research founder R "Ray" Wang said. The complexity around COVID-19 vaccinations -- Moderna and Pfizer's versions require two injections, but a Johnson & Johnson vaccine likely to be approved soon requires only one -- along with varying privacy rules around patient data handling and certification for patients who already received the shots, is something that platforms like the Salesforce and ServiceNow are built to take on.

A lot of people are looking for help organizing [vaccine distribution] information, getting it together.
R 'Ray' WangFounder, Constellation Research

"A lot of people are looking for help organizing that information, getting it together," Wang said. "It's a goodwill gesture to be able to do something and move forward."

Mass COVID-19 vaccination is likely the largest public health administration effort in U.S. history, Zenooz said. She added that not only do supply chain tracking issues and matching doses to individual patients come into play, but also things like managing consents. In the case of nursing home residents, patients may not be able to consent for themselves, and relatives need to be tracked down to confirm.

"When you start adding these additional vaccines, of different doses, calling back patients for the right vaccine at the right dose -- and now we're seeing clinical trials to see if we potentially need boosters for additional strains -- it's quite complex," Zenooz said. "Technology has the ability to simplify this for the people on the front lines."

Salesforce Work.com screenshot
Salesforce Work.com introduced emergency response tools and contact tracing earlier this year, and will add vaccine distribution tools through a partnership with MTX Group.

Accenture, Simplus and Mphasis also in the mix

MTX Group also partnered with Google Cloud to build vaccine distribution systems for public health authorities. The Salesforce version utilizes components from Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud, Health Cloud and MuleSoft, among others, said Tyler Prince, executive vice president of worldwide alliances and channels at Salesforce. Accenture, Simplus and Mphasis are also working to deploy COVID-19 vaccine management tools on Salesforce.

"For government agencies and healthcare providers, there are pretty significant complexities, and each state or municipality may be thinking a little bit differently how they will roll it out," Prince said. "Our partners understand Salesforce, they have years of Salesforce capabilities, and they also bring domain expertise working with governmental agencies."

Salesforce can expand its footprint among government users with this vaccine distribution system at first, Wang said, but a bigger prize might be commercial adoption. As employers determine how best to proceed with reopening offices and healthcare providers struggle with wrangling the data involved in vaccinating patients, Salesforce could be an attractive option for technology buyers. Other CX technology vendors, such as Twilio, offer contact tracing technologies.

Salesforce released tools earlier this year to aid the reopening process, including those for shift management, employee wellness and content distribution for COVID-19 safety and social distancing policies. Salesforce hosts them on a relaunched Work.com, a long-dormant site previously used to host employee-rewards tools in the early 2010s. Wang said employers need a means to protect employee health information yet keep their offices safe.

"[Salesforce CEO Marc] Benioff doesn't want to build a Work.com that's going after HR, but this is going after some of the big issues that companies face -- what they will need to get back to work," Wang said.

Salesforce Vaccine Cloud screenshot
Salesforce's vaccine management tool tracks details of individual COVID-19, shots as well as the larger supply chain activities for an organization.

Gavi partnership to speed international vaccinations

Salesforce also said it will collaborate with Gavi, a 20-year-old nonprofit committed to distributing vaccines to low-income countries. Gavi's goal is to facilitate manufacturing, price negotiation and distribution of two billion COVID-19 vaccination doses to 190 countries by the end of 2021, including donor-funded vaccines to 92 of those nations through its COVAX Alliance announced last June.

The Salesforce partnership involves hosting Gavi's COVID-19 country portal, where government-level users can exchange data, prioritize need and manage the logistics of vaccine distribution. Gavi is an existing customer of Salesforce, but some of the services Salesforce provides for this project will be pro bono.

Groups like Gavi work to overcome disparities such as 10% of the world's population consuming 90% of the pharmaceuticals produced internationally, said David Ragones, senior vice president and general manager of Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud.

"This simply cannot be the case with this global pandemic," Ragones said. "If we're going to get a handle on the pandemic and get beyond it, we need to make sure that all of the world's population has access to the vaccine."

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