Doctors start using free volunteer-built vaccine distribution app

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Coronavirus vaccinations taking place at Sõle Sports Center on April 3, 2021. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Family doctors and the Estonian Health Insurance Fund (Haigekassa) have started using a free application to speed up the distribution and delivery of covid-19 vaccines. The application was developed by Estonian logistics startup Sixfold and a team of volunteers.

At the beginning of March, a workgroup was assembled by the Estonian state and various leading tech entrepreneurs to find ways in which the private sector could contribute to resolving the Coronavirus crisis.

The group wanted to work out how vaccines could better reach family doctors and the general public. A digital vaccine delivery solution was created within three weeks and is now being used by the planners of the Health Insurance Fund and physicians.

The new application helps to save thousands of work hours every month through the planning and ordering of vaccines, Sixfold said in a statement.

"It's vitally important that the application be used to find the best possible sequence of vaccination, taking into consideration the limited availability of vaccines, risk group priority and people's locations. As a result, the pressure on the healthcare system will be reduced, and in turn, lives will be saved," the statement said.

Using data based on the vaccine deliveries arriving in the country and COVID-19 risk groups, the solution proposes automatic vaccine distribution to more than 700 family doctors throughout Estonia, taking into consideration the size of the risk groups in their list of patients.

Doctors can then order the required quantities and confirm their orders for the Health Board to begin fulfilment. The application also provides a clear overview of the preliminary information on pending deliveries.

The Estonian Association of Family Physicians chairman of the board Le Vallikivi said as there are still not enough vaccines arriving in the country to be distributed to everyone that requires them, the distribution of vaccine quantities has become increasingly difficult.

"We can begin to consider the size of risk groups each family doctor has, as a result of which, the distribution of vaccines will become increasingly more complicated. The new solution created by these volunteers will greatly assist in reducing this complexity," she said.

Leader of the workgroup Magnus Hiie said the pandemic requires fast and determined action, instead of the usual drawn-out planning processes. "We are coming from the startup world where such an approach is a daily occurrence, and we are happy that we can now use our experience for the benefit of the Estonian people," he added.

The application was developed and delivered to the state free of charge by the founders of Sixfold and the company's past and existing employees Magnus Hiie, Priit Haamer, Marko Klopets, Tõnu Runnel and the venture capitalist, Indrek Kasela.  

The Health Insurance Fund's chairman of the board Rain Laane said that volunteers are invaluable in these times of crisis. "In these difficult times, it's a joy to see that citizens are coming to the assistance of those dealing with solving the crisis. All help received is of great assistance," Laane said.

The volunteers will continue working on, modifying and adding to the application over the coming weeks.

The participants in the workgroup on behalf of the state were the Health Insurance Fund, Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, Health Board, Centre for Health and Well Being Information Systems (TEHIK), as well as the Information System Authority (RIA).

Estonia's coronavirus notification app HIOA was also built by a team of volunteers last year, as was the website Koroonakaart which displays coronavirus data in English, Estonian and Russian.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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