Technology Record - Issue 23: Winter 21/22

140 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om F E ATUR R E VCI leverages the SMART Health Card framework, which is based on FHIR. Also during the pandemic, Microsoft and its partners formed the Vaccine Equity Consortium (VEC). VEC’s mission is to provide Covid-19 vaccinations and other essential health services to underserved and vulnerable populations. A key partner for VEC has been the California Health Medical Reserve Corps (CHMRC). “We needed an experienced organisation that could go into any setting, understand how to deploy health services with limited technology infrastructure, and integrate with the local public health agencies,” explains Rhew. “In working with CHMRC and other VEC partners, we established pop-up sites at schools, churches, parking lots and malls. Community engagement was led by trusted individuals within the communities such as pastors, community leaders, and even beauticians and barbers. The aim was to empower trusted people with the knowledge and resources to have informed conversations with members of the community about Covid-19 and the vaccine, while also providing access to preventive medical screenings and immunisations that may have been missed during the pandemic. And VEC is working: the results from events organised so far in Seattle’s King County, California’s Inner Central Valley, and communities in Georgia and Mississippi, have demonstrated high levels of community engagement, improved Covid-19 vaccination rates, and expanded delivery of other essential health services to underserved communities. “While improving Covid-19 vaccination rates was the initial objective, we found that the most effective way to promote engagement was to start with a popular community-led event unrelated to Covid-19, such as an ethnic or holiday celebration, or a return to school or sporting event. We then married the community event with a health fair.” Another goal for VEC has been to ensure that individuals continue to receive health services after the community event. This requires identifying eligibility for insurance coverage, connecting individuals to local healthcare providers, and empowering local non-profits and community health workers with the digital tools and resources needed to help them provide continued support. “Our goal is not to replace existing work but to augment or extend the capabilities so that healthcare providers and public health can reach the folks that are unreachable.” It is a model that is reproducible, and Microsoft and its partners have created a playbook that it offers free to anyone that’s interested, says Rhew. “We encourage communities to take the lessons learned, the best practices and the tools that we’ve developed and apply them in their own settings.” He adds: “We have established a coalition of national non-profits that have local chapters and that are already connected to vulnerable