VACCINATION CART FOR OPTIMIZED DISTRIBUTION AND ADMINISTRATION OF VACCINATIONS
A stand-alone vaccination cart provides an all-in-one solution for distribution, maintenance, administration and presentation of vaccine shots. The vaccination cart comprises both a lower portion and an upper portion. The lower portion includes a refrigeration unit, a temperature monitor connected to the refrigeration unit, a plurality of storage drawers and a syringe disposal container. Placed on top of the lower portion is a work station which includes a networked computer and a printer for processing insurance and repayment forms. The corresponding upper portion includes a plurality bays to store additional medical supplies (gauze, disinfectant, adhesive bandages, etc). The networked computer is capable of communicating wirelessly with a centralized server.
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BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to a system for ordering, allocating, distributing, administrating, and processing vaccinations (as well as related information, insurance reimbursement forms, etc). Specifically, the present invention relates to reducing the overall costs, increasing efficiency, and ensuring the integrity, effectiveness and viability of vaccinations.
2. Description of the Related Art
Over the past century, advances in medicine have given rise to numerous vaccinations to prevent diseases. For example, vaccinations for once life threatening diseases such as small pox, polio, tuberculoses and typhoid have been developed. These advances in medicine have not only improved the quality of life, but also greatly increased the average life expectancy.
Modern pharmaceutical companies (hereinafter “Pharmaceuticals”) have also made great strides in their ability to create vaccinations for influenza, commonly referred to as “the flu.” This has included the rapid isolation and creation of vaccines for newly discovered strains of the flu. Once these new strains are recognized, Pharmaceuticals can now effectively create large quantities of vaccinations each year for these new strains of the flu.
While pharmaceuticals can now efficiently create vaccinations for a new strain of the flu, very little has been done to create effective channels and techniques for distributing these important inoculants. Traditionally, flu vaccinations were distributed directly to facilities such as doctor's offices, medical clinics and hospitals, for administration of a range of vaccines, including flu shots. However, these facilities had difficulty accurately forecasting the precise quantity of vaccine doses to order and delivering them to patients in a cost effective and efficient manner.
The difficulty in forecasting the precise quantity of vaccines to order resulted in unused quantities of vaccinations and spoilage of these often scarce medicines. Over time, the inability to forecast vaccination needs resulted in a chain reaction of events that lead to higher costs and lower revenues for vaccine providers and lower utilization rates for patients. The pattern started when vaccine providers would order conservative quantities of vaccine in an effort to reduce spoilage and waste. However, the conservative ordering also increased the risk that a patient would visit their provider, but be unable to receive a vaccine. Over time, patients became apathetic about visiting a provider to receive a vaccine for flu (or other preventable disease). Today's vaccine market is marked by both low profit margins for providers and low utilization rates for patients.
Because of this inability to forecast the correct amount of vaccine doses and patient apathy, many doctors have opted not to offer administration of flu shots. In short, it no was longer financially viable for traditional medical clinics and family doctors to offer these important medicines.
Within the last decade, alternative facilities have begun to offer centralized administration of flu shots and other vaccines. These alternatives include public health administrations (PHAs) of municipal governments—which have set up flu shot booths at fire stations and other city facilities, such as city hall, schools, recreation centers, and the like. In addition, large pharmacies and retailers, such as CVS and Walgreens, now offer flu shots.
While vaccination offerings by PHAs and retailers have addressed some of the cost and spoilage issues raised by the prior operating model, these alternative facilities aggravate some of the Provider service issues that reduce a patient's willingness to receive a vaccine. First and foremost, the use of alternative facilities for administration of vaccines has reduced the ability for patients to receive ancillary and/or comprehensive treatment (such as yearly medical check-ups, blood work, etc.) with their regular family doctors. In addition, the limited number of alternative facilities has caused long wait times to receive the vaccine shots, which reduced patient incentives for obtaining yearly treatments.
The alternative facilities also create a new complication in that the alternative vaccine providers often do not have formal medical training or provide medical services on a regular basis. Because of this, there is an increased risk that the vaccine will not be properly maintained and preserved in a refrigerated condition and may not be correctly administered.
Finally, these alternative facilities are not equipped to provide accurate processing of insurance claims regarding vaccine administration. This results in patients either not receiving reimbursement for vaccinations, or having to process the potentially complicated forms themselves. This creates yet another potential obstacle to increase patient demand.
Accordingly, there is a need in the art of vaccine distribution for an intermediary between manufacture of flu shots (and other vaccines) and their administration. This new component should act as a “facilitator” that ensures proper allocation and viability of vaccines, giving providers a turnkey solution to their need for flu shots without risk of over or under ordering. Moreover, such facilitator should afford the ability for improved vaccine and patient information quality control, improved patient awareness and education, shorter wait times and lower pricing for vaccinations.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
In view of the foregoing background, the present invention solves the limitations found in current distribution and administration systems for vaccinations. Moreover, this invention creates a “facilitator” that bridges the manufacture of vaccinations with administration by medical clinics, doctors, retailers and PHAs (collectively, “Providers”). This turn-key solution affords enhanced quality control, lower costs, shorter wait times for vaccine administration, and higher vaccination rates. Moreover, it creates a trusted source for vaccine administration by creating more consist reliable vaccination shot delivery through ensuring the integrity and viability of each vaccination.
An aspect of this intermediary facilitator according to an embodiment of the present invention is a stand-alone vaccination cart that provides an all-in-one solution for distribution, maintenance, administration and presentation of vaccine shots.
The vaccination cart comprises both a lower portion and an upper portion. The lower portion includes a refrigeration unit, a temperature monitor connected to the refrigeration unit, a plurality of storage drawers and a syringe disposal container. Placed on top of the lower portion is a work station which includes a networked computer and a printer for processing insurance and repayment forms. The corresponding upper portion includes a plurality bays to store additional medical supplies (gauze, disinfectant, adhesive bandages, etc). The networked computer is capable of communicating wirelessly with a centralized server.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The details of the present invention, both as to its structure and operation, can best be understood by referring to the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numbers and designations refer to like elements.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
The present invention will now be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which preferred embodiments of the invention are shown. This invention may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein. Rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art. Like numbers refer to like elements throughout.
An aspect of this intermediary facilitator according to an embodiment of the present invention is a stand-alone vaccination cart that provides an all-in-one solution for distribution, maintenance, administration and presentation of vaccine shots. The vaccination cart comprises both a lower portion and an upper portion. The lower portion includes a refrigeration unit, a temperature monitor connected to the refrigeration unit, a plurality of storage drawers and a syringe disposal container. Placed on top of the lower portion is a work station which includes a networked computer and a printer for processing insurance and repayment forms. The corresponding upper portion includes a plurality bays to store additional medical supplies (gauze, disinfectant, adhesive bandages, etc). The networked computer is capable of communicating wirelessly with a centralized server.
As an example, such a turn-key solution may be provided using a network system 100 such as that shown in the
An exemplary block diagram of a computer system 200, such as Servers 104, is shown in
Input/output circuitry 204 provides the capability to input data to, or output data from, database/system 200. For example, input/output circuitry may include input devices, such as keyboards, mice, touchpads, trackballs, scanners, etc., output devices, such as video adapters, monitors, printers, etc., and input/output devices, such as, modems, etc. Network adapter 206 interfaces device 200 with network 210. Network 210 includes any communications network that is now in service or which may be developed in the future. Such a network may include one or more public or private communications networks, such as the Internet, wired or wireless telephone networks, wired or wireless data networks, local area networks, etc.
Memory 208 stores program instructions that are executed by, and data that are used and processed by, CPU 202 to perform the functions of system 200. Memory 208 may include electronic memory devices, such as random-access memory (RAM), read-only memory (ROM), programmable read-only memory (PROM), electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM), flash memory, etc., and electro-mechanical memory, such as magnetic disk drives, tape drives, optical disk drives, etc., which may use an integrated drive electronics (IDE) interface, or a variation or enhancement thereof, such as enhanced IDE (EIDE) or ultra direct memory access (UDMA), or a small computer system interface (SCSI) based interface, or a variation or enhancement thereof, such as fast-SCSI, wide-SCSI, fast and wide-SCSI, etc, or a fiber channel-arbitrated loop (FC-AL) interface, or Serial AT Attachment (SATA), or a variation or enhancement thereof.
The content of memory 208 varies depending upon the function that system 200 is programmed to perform. Operating system 212 provides overall system functionality. In the
As shown in
It is important to note that while the present invention has been described in the context of a fully functioning data processing system, those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the processes of the present invention are capable of being distributed in the form of a computer readable medium of instructions and a variety of forms and that the present invention applies equally regardless of the particular type of signal bearing media actually used to carry out the distribution. Examples of computer readable storage media include, floppy disks, hard disk drives, CD-ROMs, DVDROMs, RAM, flash memory, etc.
An exemplary flow-chart of a process for ordering, allocating and distributing the proper amount of vaccination according to an embodiment of the present invention is shown in
Upon creation of (or logging into an existing) user account using account creation module 214C, the Provider 350 is then prompted to enter (or update) information in a variety of fields located in an updating, ordering and vaccine optimization (“UOVO”) module 214A (at step 500). In the
After the UOVO module 214A analyzes the proper amount of vaccination shots to distribute to the Provider accessing the server, the method next includes a distribution and service module 214B (at step 600). This service module 214B sets up a schedule when to distribute the vaccination shots. In the
Any detected issue is sent to the UOVO module (at step 500) to be interpreted by a detection module on a Provider terminal. The UOVO module can order a secondary shipment of vaccination shots to be sent out to the Provider 350 location. Alternatively, the UOVO module can direct an additional distribution cart 900 to be sent to the Provider 350.
As is further shown in
The process illustrated in
Creation of a Provider User Account
A flow-chart of a process for creating a Provider user account on a graphical user interface (GUI) accessible through a dedicated secure server according to an embodiment of the present invention is shown in
Next, the Provider 350 must select (at step 415) a Provider level. This Provider level corresponds to the type of entity of the Provider 350 including, but not limited to, a PHA, a municipality, a school, a retailer, a business, and the like, as well as the overall size and number of locations (facilities, branches, schools, etc.) for that Provider 350. Next, the Provider 350 should choose Provider/profile settings (at 420) that correspond to the underlying demographics of the likely patient pool (pregnant women, infants, children, the elderly, etc.), vaccination priorities, goals, strategies, and other related reasons for providing inoculation services. These Provider settings serve a very important role in allocating and servicing a Provider 350. For example, the demographics provided in a setting may determine the dose of the vaccination (one may differ for children compared to adults) or the priority to distribute a particular vaccination (for example, the H1N1 vaccine should first be given to children and military personnel not the elderly). Accordingly, Provider settings for a PHA providing flu shots may be very different than a private nursing home providing other vaccinations for elderly patients.
As further shown in the
Optimized Distribution of Vaccine
A flow-chart of the process performed by the UOVO module 500 for optimizing distribution and allocation of vaccination shots according to an embodiment of the present invention is shown in
As shown in the
As further shown in the
Information used to identify these goals includes, but is not limited to, listing the number of facilities that will administer vaccination shots, identifying acceptable payment options including, but not limited to, insurance, private pay, corporate reimbursement, and providing when each facility is available to administer vaccinations shots. Demographics cross referenced through review of the profile settings for average age, sex, income level, and the like can also be reviewed. Based upon the aggregate of this information, an algorithm is run (at step 540) to approximate the correct number of initial and future vaccination shots needed by the Provider 350 for each facility. Factors that are considered by the algorithm include the Provider's specific vaccination administration history including, but not limited to, the number and type of vaccination shots administered by the Provider over different time periods, the number of patients the Provider services, the total number of visits per patient, the demographics of the patients, the number of doctors within a specific geographic region, national shot projections, and southern hemisphere flu activity. These factors are also considered when determining a Provider's future delivery of vaccination shots.
Based upon running the algorithm shown in
Distribution and Service Module
A flow-chart of the process performed by the distribution and service module 600 according to an embodiment of the present invention is shown in
Based upon the schedule, a vaccination cart is provided (at step 620) to an initial Provider 350. Vaccination shots that are maintained and presented using the vaccination cart can be recorded and identified on the server 104 such that there is end-to-end tracking of the vaccine batches from shipment to the facilitator, to distribution to the Provider 350 to administration to the patient. This ensures quality control as well as the ability to alert patients as well as Providers 350 should a quality control issue later become apparent.
If a Provider 350 requires service, they can place an alert via a Provider terminal 106 for a service technician to service the Provider. Such service (at step 625) can include, but is not limited to, delivering additional vaccination shots, replacing a broken vaccination cart 900, providing additional reimbursement forms, or providing medical equipment such as gauze, adhesive bandages, etc. Service can also include sending (at step 630) an additional distribution cart if the demand for vaccination is greater than previously expected.
Furthermore, based upon the master schedule, the distribution cart 900 can later be provided (at step 635) to a second Provider 350 for further distribution of vaccination shots. As with the initial Provider, the second Provider 350 will be provided the same types of services provided at step 625.
Issue Detection Module
An exemplary flow-chart of the process performed by issue detection module 700 according to an embodiment of the present invention is shown in Figure. Issue detection is provided in an embodiment of the invention where a vaccination cart 900 and Provider terminal 106 is provided to the Provider. The issue detection module begins by determining (at step 705) the total available sensors 126 connected to the Provider terminal 106 to provide self-diagnostics. As previously discussed, these sensors can provide a variety of diagnostic tests to ensure viability of the vaccination shots. These can include checking a temperature monitor (at step 710) to ensure the temperature has not risen above a pre-specific level which risks degradation of the vaccine, calculating (at step 715) the estimated remaining vaccination shots available (through counting the number of times the front door 161 has open and closed or alternatively by detecting the removal of vaccination shot from a vaccination tray hold the vaccination shots, as well as determining if the front door 161 has been opened an unreasonable amount of time (at step 720). Based upon measuring these various sensors, the Provider terminal 106 determines (at step 725) the viability of the stored vaccinations.
If any issues are detected (at 730) through the Provider terminal 106 interpreting data offered by the sensors, then a report is issued (at step 735) to the server 104. More specifically, these issues are communicated to the UOVO module 500. If there are no issues, then vaccination shots are simply distributed until the vaccination cart 900 is emptied or returned (at step 800) after the master schedule is complete.
The Vaccination Cart
In order to efficiently and effectively allocate the proper quantities of vaccine to a specific facility (such as a medical clinic, doctor's office, school, fire department, or other PHA facility), the use of an automated and networked vaccination cart 900 is contemplated in an embodiment of the present invention. This vaccination cart 900 should offer a “turn-key” solution to provide an all-in-one solution to distribute, store and administer vaccine (as well as process insurance reimbursement). Such a vaccination cart 900 can be used for any type of inoculation, including but not limited to flu shots.
A vaccination cart 900 according to an embodiment of the present is shown in
Although the vaccination cart 900 can take many a form,
On the right side 144 (or alternatively the left side 143) of the bottom portion 140 is a vertical file sleeve 146. The file sleeve 146 is capable of storing various forms 147, including, but not limited to, as vaccine information sheets, custom consent forms, patient receipts, information regarding post-treatment after vaccination, health tips and insurance reimbursement forms.
The custom consent form 147 can be generated on site through use of the networked Provider terminal 106 and connected printer 128 in communication with the server 104 (located at a separate central location). The inquiries (i.e., spaces) provided in the custom consent form 147 can be populated and created by information stored on the server 104 through a Provider's 350 Provider level 415 and Provider settings 420. For example, the networked computer 106 can create one consent form for flu shots at a school, while create a separate and distinct form when giving another type of vaccination at a nursing home—all based upon the demographics inherent in the Provider settings 420.
In addition, through access with the Provider level 415 and other Provider 350 information stored on the central server 130, the custom consent form 147 can include a bar code or other alpha-numeric identifier that can help track vaccine administration (including but not limited to which patent was given a particular batch of vaccination shots). Such tracking capabilities can also assist in vaccine administration, pick-up and later insurance claims processing. The left side 143 (or alternatively the right side 144) of the bottom portion 140 includes a medical waste container 148 sufficient to discard used vaccination shots.
As further illustrated in
Located on the front door 161 is a temperature meter 164. This temperature meter 164 can be as simple as a solution of glycol, a digital thermometer, or a standard thermometer. It is preferable, but not necessary, for the temperature meter 164 to provide a warning to indicate whether the inside temperature of the refrigerator 160 has fallen below a pre-determined level—indicating a risk as to the integrity and viability of the stored vaccination shots.
Affixed on top of the table surface 145 is the computer 106. The computer 106 can be connected to various sensors (not shown) located on the vaccination cart 900. These sensors can include the temperature meter 164, as well as other devices capable of measuring when the various drawers are opened and closed and/or the number of vaccination shots removed from the refrigerator unit 160. This information can then be interpreted by the networked computer 106 and potentially relayed to the centralized server 130 via a wireless antenna 127.
A printer 128 can be attached to the networked computer 125. The printer 128 can be used to print out paperwork for patients 200 such as the custom consent form 147. In addition, the printer 128 can be used to create a record of the vaccinations stored within the vaccination cart 900 for later processing. In addition, a self-contained power source (not shown) can be located within the bottom portion 140 capable of powering the refrigeration unit 160, the computer 106, the printer 128 and various sensors.
In addition to the lower portion 140,
Although specific embodiments of the present invention have been described, it will be understood by those of skill in the art that there are other embodiments that are equivalent to the described embodiments. Accordingly, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited by the specific illustrated embodiments, but only by the scope of the appended claims.
1. A vaccination cart for distributing one or more types of vaccination shots comprising:
- a lower portion which includes a refrigeration unit, a temperature monitor connected to the refrigeration unit, a plurality of drawers, and a syringe disposal container,
- an upper portion which includes a plurality of bins to store medical supplies.
2. The vaccination cart of claim 1, wherein a Provider terminal that detects issues associated with the vaccination cart is coupled to the temperature monitor.
3. The vaccination cart of claim 2, wherein the temperature monitor measures the internal temperature of the refrigeration unit.
4. The vaccination cart of claim 2, wherein the lower portion further includes one or more sensors connected to the computer.
5. The vaccination cart of claim 1, wherein the lower portion further includes a vertical file folder.
6. The vaccination cart of claim 1, wherein the upper portion further includes a sign.
7. The vaccination cart of claim 2, wherein the Provider terminal is capable of communicating wirelessly with a server.
International Classification: A47B 81/00 (20060101); A47F 3/04 (20060101);