Mistakes Australian Healthcare Organisations Make When Managing Workforce Vaccination

2 people wearing full PPE
Anthea Leong
July 15, 2022
1 min read
2 people wearing full PPE

Have you been tasked with managing workforce vaccination for your healthcare organisation and don’t know where to start? Let me help you!

As COVID-19 vaccination distribution begins, organisations everywhere have critical decisions to make about their vaccination policies. Hospitals in Australia have been trying to manage workforce vaccination with the recent mandate for healthcare workers to be vaccinated.

Whilst employee vaccination management seems like a fuss-free and easy task; there’s more than meets the eye. Unfortunately, many generic employee vaccination systems or HR tools do not take into account the complexities of the healthcare industry.

After working with many Australian healthcare providers, below are some of our key findings of mistakes Australian healthcare organisations make when managing workforce vaccination.

Common mistakes

Not keeping up with changing regulations

One common mistake healthcare organisations make is they do not keep up with state regulations religiously. While the government is making vaccination mandatory for health workers, the regulations are unfortunately not implemented consistently across the country.

For example, the Public Health Order requires NSW Health staff to have their first COVID-19 vaccination by 30 September and their second by 30 November. The term staff includes employees, Visiting Medical Officers (VMOs), volunteers, contractors, students and other visiting practitioners.

While it is also mandatory for healthcare workers in VIC to be fully vaccinated to remain employed, the timeline is different. In VIC, healthcare workers need to have at least one dose by 15 October. Otherwise, they need to prove to employers they have a vaccination appointment booked.

The need to remain compliant with workforce vaccination regulations is further exacerbated by the hefty fines hospitals face in times of non-compliance. For instance, hospitals can get up to a $100k fine for breach in compliance with regulations in WA and a $109k fine for hospitals in VIC.

While healthcare organisations have some systems in place to manage workforce vaccination, many are falling short on compliance. Using generic vaccination management methods that do not automate compliance can cost healthcare organisations unnecessary fines and damage hospital reputation.

Manual tracking of employee vaccination status

Another common mistake healthcare organisations make when managing workforce vaccination is using manual or semi-automated methods such as the all-time-favourite excel spreadsheets.

Workforce Vaccination
Using spreadsheets to manage workforce vaccination is not ideal.

Many healthcare organisations first think of using spreadsheets to help manage employee vaccination as it is a free option, and it is pretty simple for admin employees to use. However, excel spreadsheets are not equipped with the level of complexity needed for the healthcare industry.

Manually collecting employee workforce vaccination data and then ensuring the evidence provided is valid can easily become a nightmare. Further, admin staff will have to spend more admin hours ensuring the data is entered correctly into the spreadsheet.

This is incredibly tedious for employees and employers when more complexities are added, i.e. different vaccination statuses, different state regulations. This is a lot for managers, admin and HR teams to keep up while also maintaining their other responsibilities.

Further, it is very easy for healthcare organisations to make mistakes when using tools like the spreadsheet. For example, tracking vaccination statuses, different workflows and regulations on a single spreadsheet can lead to inevitable admin mistakes.

When it comes to managing workforce vaccination, collecting data is only one small part. Healthcare organisations also have to consider other nuances such as validating the evidence, on-site policing of vaccination evidence, managing vaccination dashboards and more.

Therefore, healthcare organisations are urged not to rely on spreadsheets to manage their vaccination documents due to the admin-heavy workload and the high likelihood of making an unnecessary mistake.

Using internal HR system

Some healthcare organisations will use their current internal HR system to manage workforce vaccination. While this is more efficient and less admin-heavy as compared to the method above, an internal HR system is still not comprehensive enough.

Like the spreadsheet, an HR specific system cannot account for the differing state regulations. Therefore, even though an HR system will be better able to collect and store employee vaccination data, it is at best just scratching the surface of healthcare needs.

A generic HR system cannot account for the many visitor types and workflows that healthcare organisations have every day. For instance, hospitals expect hundreds and thousands of people going in and out of the facility. They range from visitors, staff, patients and even contractors.

Further, even when admin staff use HR tools to collect employee vaccination evidence, they still have to go through and validate them manually. Again, this is to ensure the authenticity of the evidence provided. Hence, while it may seem the HR tool is saving some administration workload and time, staff will still have to spend some time going through each upload.

This method of managing workforce vaccination, albeit a slightly more automated one, is still not the most efficient one for healthcare organisations.

How to overcome them

Now, it might seem managing employee vaccination is an impossible task. But, fret not; here’s how you can avoid the common mistakes above and efficiently manage your employee vaccination.

Implement a vaccination management system

The best way for healthcare organisations to manage workforce vaccination is to have a vaccination management system. A vaccination management system can help you automate the entire vaccination collection and validation process. At the same time, it can also ensure you maintain 100% compliance with state regulations.

Workforce Vaccination

This is where Zipline’s vaccination management solution comes into play. We can help you optimise and streamline the entire vaccination collection and verification process. Unlike other methods, Zipline cares for all work types, including staff, visitors, patients, contractors and volunteers.

We help reduce admin burden and costs by applying the right entry policy. We also help adjust vaccination requirements for different worker types based on your state’s changing restrictions.

Further, we help encourage people to pre-upload vaccination evidence before coming on-site, contributing significantly to the smooth functioning of hospitals. Policing on-site vaccination evidence is done automatically via the Zipline kiosks.

Workforce Vaccination
Zipline’s vaccination management workflow

Zipline also simplifies and optimises workforce vaccination flow. For example, the vaccination management solution will automatically store and verify the uploaded evidence using our machine learning AI when proof is uploaded. We also have an in-house compliance team to help ensure your healthcare organisation stays 100% compliant with ever-changing requirements.

Compared to spreadsheets and HR systems, a vaccination management system specifically focused on Australian healthcare like Zipline provides a more targeted service for healthcare. Additionally, it reduces the admin workload significantly by automating and streamlining the entire end-to-end process of workforce vaccination management.

In summary

Vaccination management has now become a critical requirement which healthcare organisations have to fulfil. However, with so many complexities within the healthcare system as well as the different state regulations, utilising a spreadsheet or HR tool is not enough.

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is the damage a global pandemic can have on healthcare systems in the world. As such, Australian healthcare organisations need to comply with state vaccination regulations.

Ultimately, your preferred workforce vaccination management system must balance employee health and welfare, legal requirements and operational considerations. In addition, you will have to consider the different challenges and problems that come with each method.

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