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HMOs are the key to Israel’s vaccine success

Israel’s HMOs have already transformed health risk predictions in Israel through big data analysis. Now, the systems’ abilities to integrate messaging and data is pushing the country to the top of the COVID-19 vaccine league table.

To date, Israel has vaccinated about 17% of its population at a rate of between 1-2% every single day, four times more than second-place Bahrain. That speed comes down to an age-old bureaucracy: paperwork. It takes three times longer, for example, to administer and process a patient in the UK.

Every resident is a member of one of four non-profit HMOs that they use to make appointments, manage prescriptions and get test results. Once Israel had hold of a vaccine supply the HMOs sent alerts to all over-60s to say they were eligible, who could self-book via phone, website or app.

Then once at the vaccine centre – ranging from stadiums to drive-thrus – the nurse confirmed medical history including allergies on an iPad in less than 30 seconds. Patients can book an appointment for the second dose while waiting for the first.

Compare this to one person’s experience of taking their 90-year-old mother for a vaccine appointment in the UK. Medical history was collected in a 15-minute pre-appointment interview, another 15-minute interview with the nurse at the hospital, and some more questions by the nurse who administered the vaccine.

The ability to reach patients at the drop of a hat, have immediate access to their medical history, and seamless capabilities for appointment bookings have been fundamental for Israel. We would expect to see this replicated in other systems with integrated healthcare systems with large registrant bases like Finland but while Mehilainen and Terveystalo have said they’re prepared, municipal governments have yet to ask.

Clalit, Israel’s largest HMO and serving 4.2m has already had first-class electronic health records for well over a decade leading to impressive outcomes in costs, value and population health. You can see more about that here and here.

Systems that store and collect data well are at an obvious advantage already. And that they will be able to monitor well their vaccinated populations will only lead to greater benefits. HMOs should have good data to answer questions around the effectiveness of the vaccine for various age groups, transmissibility, second dose impact and in the longer term, and the duration of protection.

We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Rachel Lewis or call 0207 183 3779.