Since the pandemic started in December 2020, Americans have patiently waited for the Coronavirus vaccine. The immunization promised protection against the lethal virus, which Americans desperately needed as numbers continued to climb. With the initial launch of the vaccine program, many Americans were left struggling to find appointments. As a result, appointment booking servers crashed and extensive lineups formed throughout clinics and distribution centers. Unfortunately, significant supply issues only added to frustrations throughout the initial period, with many people struggling to find a vaccine clinic with availability.
Trouble Booking Vaccine Appointments
Although the initial vaccine rollout included at-risk populations and seniors, surges in appointments prevented countless individuals from booking a scheduled appointment. Initial reports suggested citizens woke before dawn and tried to navigate the online portals for an appointment time. The elderly population struggled with the modern booking system, asking younger family members to book time slots on their behalf. Unfortunately, it seemed the places filled faster than the page could load.
With many individuals booking multiple times for their vaccinations to secure an immediate spot, many clinics struggled to keep up with demand. Complicating things further was the lack of cancelations and no-show appointments. People ultimately canceled approximately 30% of all vaccine appointments, or the individual didn’t show up. That’s roughly 30 vaccines out of every hundred, which leads to extensive waste of limited resources.
Why Were Vaccines Discarded?
Cold storage vaccines require strict handling and thawing to ensure optimal efficiency and stability. With strict protocols for transportation and thawing before diluting the solution, many clinics had to plan for doses ahead of time to ensure adequate supply for the pre-booked appointments.
After thawing, pharmacists and doctors had to use the vaccine within a specific time frame (often within hours). Booking the complete vaccine schedule (despite predicted cancelations and no-show appointments) was mandatory for many clinics. When a patient canceled or didn’t show at all, the location had two choices: fill the vaccine appointment or discard the extra dose.
Before the Dr. B vaccine list, most clinics tried to fill the extra vaccinations with individuals within the area. Many employees were soliciting shoppers within the region, contacting regular customers, or offering the vaccine to anyone waiting for openings. Unfortunately, this method wasn’t very time-efficient, leaving many vaccines to expire.
Dr. B Filled the Void
As the pandemic continued to spread in early 2021, Cyrus Massoumi found a few gaps in the vaccine distribution. He noticed that cancelations and a surplus of vaccines should end up in the arms of Americans instead of in the trash. He founded Dr. B in early 2021, hoping to offset that. Anyone registered in the database would receive a notification of an extra vaccine dose within their geographic area. The provider would simply upload the information to the website, leaving the platform to find viable participants to fill the time slots.
Making the Connections
Individuals joining the platform completed a form requesting basic information. These details included name, address, age, contact information, and pre-existing medical conditions. Employment information was also included (for potential at-risk positions). The Dr. B standby list incorporated all state and local government requirements, stipulations, and conditions. The company used a comprehensive algorithm to determine who should receive the vaccine.
Users on the platform were organized according to priority, need, and other government stipulations. The platform required prompt response, often needing immediate appointment times (within 20 minutes of the text message).
Providers on the Dr. B website had to update the vaccine totals for the day, including the expected expiry. Confirmed appointment times were sent to the vaccine clinic, providing individuals the opportunity to get the shot.
An Intentionally Slow Start
While the website ultimately became a striking success, with nearly 2.5 million users joining the standby network hoping to receive a text message. Although many assumed the networking platform would expand quickly, Massoumi kept the site launch under wraps. He connected with vulnerable communities within the United States to offer early access to the waitlist. The vulnerable communities included Latino-Hispanic, Black, and Indigenous communities.
As providers continued to join the network, the clinics surpassed 750 different establishments. Clinics spread across 44 states within the United States, including high-population areas and smaller rural communities.
Understanding the Results
As Dr. B’s campaign closed, individuals received over one million doses through the program. The website connected clinics with eligible individuals within their proximity, minimizing the resources and time wasted overall.
Although the company has closed registrations, the website promised to continue pursuing accessibility within the healthcare industry. The Dr. B website connected individuals to critical healthcare access in a previously never known way. The company pledged to put healthcare challenges plaguing citizens at the front of all initiatives moving forward, closing issues that may have otherwise existed.