From Contact Tracing to Vaccine Distribution – Knowledge Management is a Common Theme

Published: Thursday, March 25th, 2021

Knowledge Management in a COVID-19 World


When the COVID-19 pandemic descended on the world in 2020 the first line of defense was contact tracing. Multiple states across the USA implemented Panviva for their emergency response contact tracing centers, to assist with onboarding contract tracers in the shortest time possible as well as ensuring they could be kept up to date with the rapid changes in contact tracing best practices and the general progression of the pandemic.

When the vaccines started to become available in early 2021, thoughts turned to organizing vaccine distribution logistics and once again, many states across the USA turned to Panviva to enable their efforts. It has been interesting to observe how the nature of contact tracing has given way to a completely different dynamic for vaccine distribution contact centers, and yet the need for effective knowledge management has remained constant.

Contact tracers - keeping them updated

Contact tracing is mostly about outbound calls that need to follow a strict protocol. The calls can be very long and challenging – it’s a call that nobody wants to receive and there are all sorts of emotions for the contact tracer to deal with as the close contact is confronted with the chilling possibilities that the call raises. The contact tracing protocols were constantly changing as more was learned about COVID-19 and as experience in making effective contact tracing calls was gained, and the tracers needed to be kept right up to date at all times – something that Panviva was able to provide.

Vaccine call centers - different stresses, same demands

By contrast, the vaccine call center agents are mostly taking inbound calls about appointments (scheduling, availability, eligibility) and questions about the vaccine. They have dozens of FAQs that range from “Where can I go” to “What are the side effects” to “Are there microchips in the injection?”. There is no “pattern” to the calls other than there is a constant stream of them – all day, every day.

The vaccine conversations and procedures are not nearly as complex as with contact tracing. The sense of stigma that we saw with contact tracing is not found in the vaccine calls – these callers WANT to call and to get a vaccine, so they don’t mind waiting in queue for several minutes and they’re happy when they finally connect to an agent. Most calls tend to require the agents to be able to access in Panviva a combination of scheduling-related procedures and FAQs.

How Panviva has improved and streamlined the process

Panviva has been implemented for vaccine distribution in some of the largest states in the US. In one state, there are almost 7 million people, and the phases of eligibility allow about a million people per phase. That’s a lot of calls, so they need a lot of agents.  We have seen in most states a rapid and regular expansion in the number of agents needed to handle these calls. The content developed in Panviva for one state has often been leveraged in other states to speed up the deployment of the emergency response.

The agents now taking vaccine calls were, in many cases, taking contact tracing calls three months ago. They are exhausted from the pressures of their job, and they are also working from home with those added stresses, too. Having finger-tip access to support information in Panviva has helped alleviate some of that stress for many.

The ‘emergency response’ efforts triggered by COVID-19 throughout the past 12 months have highlighted the importance of accurate, up-to-date and easy-to-access knowledge and at Panviva we have been privileged to be able to lend a hand.


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