NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunication is a trailblazer

NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications is bringing the City back with a citywide vaccine management system.


The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications’ (DoITT) mission is to provide sustainable, efficient, and effective IT solutions for its sister-agencies across the city, “and the vaccination effort that we have undertaken over the past several months has been the single most impactful of any of these initiatives,” said Jessica Tisch, Commissioner and Citywide CIO for DoITT.

When COVID-19 began surfacing in the United States, New York City quickly became the country’s epicenter – so quickly, in fact, that Commissioner Tisch and team refer to it as a sneak attack. As hospitals became overwhelmed, ICU beds filled up, and morgues hit capacity without much notice, DoITT suddenly found itself taking on additional responsibilities. It was managing planned, strategic projects like modernizing New York City’s 911 system and accelerating the City’s 5G rollout while now also building new service requests in to the City’s 311 system so that uninsured patients could get connected with a doctor, and standing up new technology that facilitates the delivery meals to homebound individuals and food insecure New Yorkers across the five boroughs; “our Get Food program, which recently delivered its 200 millionth meal,” Commissioner Tisch added. 

“We've worked tirelessly over the past year to build technology solutions that help New Yorkers deal with the pandemic,” the Commissioner continued. “So now, to finally be at the point where we are figuring out how to distribute [COVID-19] vaccines, is joyful for us. It is the solution that will get us out of the trauma, the pain, and the suffering that so many have experienced over the past year.”

The City went to work, identifying communities that were hardest hit by the pandemic and flagging locations for vaccination sites accordingly so they could have a more meaningful impact, fast. The result: dozens of locations to manage, fueled by a multifaceted decision matrix designed per the City’s public health guidelines, that have to serve a diverse set of 8.4 million people. Twice, depending on which brand vaccine the person receives. 

“Feedback from the community was that people needed an easy way to schedule a vaccination appointment,” said Commissioner Tisch. “We have so many locations where people can start getting vaccinated, each with their own scheduling tool. That can make it overwhelming to find and book an appointment, especially the groups that we were prioritizing first. Many of them are not the most digitally literate.”

DoITT was asked to consolidate these scheduling tools on one platform that could scale to support all City-run sites with a consistent user experience. “However, what we ended up building was so much more than a simple calendar app,” said the Commissioner.

Introducing New York City’s vaccine management platform.

DoITT teamed up with technology partner MTX and launched vax4nyc, an end-to-end case management system built on the FedRAMP-authorized Salesforce Government Cloud platform that is configured to support the unique needs of distributing COVID-19 vaccines – from scheduling the first appointment, to conducting onsite health screenings, recording and reporting the vaccination event, and scheduling the next dose. Here’s how it works:

On the front end, New Yorkers start by creating a profile with vax4nyc, using Experience Cloud. Here, they are guided through the City’s data entry requirements: eligibility questions, health screening and attestation, pertinent personal information, and more. Once the person has created their profile, they are shown available appointments across all of New York City’s clinic locations, and able to book the time and place that works best.

On the day of their appointment, the person receives a notification to fill out their daily screening questions and medical consent form via Flow Builder, which allows the City to check for things that may impact their ability to safely receive their dose. Once the person has completed their screening and consent they are checked in for their appointment, similar to how a traveler can check in for a flight in advance and skip the in-person ticketing counter at the airport altogether.
Once the person receives their vaccine, the event is recorded in the patient’s profile, the information is sent to the City’s Citizen Immunization registry, and the second appointment is booked during the brief adverse reaction monitoring period.

On the backend, this information is captured in a personalized, profile-like record in Service Cloud, which officials use to confirm eligibility and report on progress by zip code, demographic specifics, and more. It is also used by staff at the clinic where the person booked their appointment, minimizing the amount of information that needs to be collected onsite and helping the entire process move faster, with fewer contact points. 

Shield was added, helping to bring an additional layer of security to the system and to enable DoITT to comply with applicable data privacy and security laws, such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). MuleSoft’s integration and API capabilities facilitate email communications to people regarding their appointments, as well as help data dependencies across the vaccination process run smoothly.

Bringing the City back to life.

vax4nyc went live in just three weeks, and (at the time of publication) had supported the delivery of over 650,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses in just two months. When appointments are made available based upon the City receiving its next batch of doses, DoITT is seeing people schedule appointments for themselves in under three minutes. And, as the Federal government makes more inventory available, the City has the foundation it needs to scale up distribution and receive more allotments for its residents. 

The DoITT team is also offering vax4nyc as a service (VaaS, if you will) to healthcare providers citywide who want to use it to schedule vaccine appointments for residents, further delivering the kind of consistent customer experience that inspired vax4nyc in the first place. “Our staff is also benefiting from vax4nyc’s modern user experience. Our clinicians might be EMTs, nurses, etc. who don’t work at the clinic all day every day. They have other jobs. vax4nyc doesn’t require a huge amount of training to bring someone up to speed, which means someone can start using it on day 1,” said Commissioner Tisch. 

“Seeing this platform in action, and seeing vaccinations happen doesn’t just give me hope. It brings me joy,” Commissioner Tisch continued. “This past weekend, New York was alive again. And I said to myself ‘it’s working. I am seeing this city come back to life.’”


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