Adriana Allocato
Adriana Allocato (Research Manager, Health Insights, IDC Europe)
Nino Giguashvili
Nino Giguashvili (Research Manager, IDC Health Insights for Europe)

On January 19, 2021, the European Commission set out actions to step up the response against the COVID-19 pandemic and accelerate the rollout of vaccination campaigns across the EU. The aim was to vaccinate a minimum of 70% of the adult population by the summer of 2021.

To date, all 30 EU/EEA countries have developed strategies for COVID-19 vaccine deployment at the national level. However, managing COVID-19 vaccination programmes has proved enormously complex due to unprecedented challenges, including urgency, volume, cold chain requirements, side effects, identification of target groups and uncertain timelines.

To support the successful rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, various digitally enabled vaccine management solutions have been deployed to enable registration capabilities for patients and providers, phased scheduling for vaccinations, streamlined reporting, and management dashboarding with analytics and forecasting. European governments, vaccine producers and healthcare organisations are also working on solutions that support distribution management and end-to-end traceability to address potential supply chain disruptions.

But the outcomes of all these efforts have not been similar across countries, nor between different regions of the same country.

The IT Failures of the Lombardy Region in Italy

At the end of March 2021, the Lombardy region governor dismissed the board of ARIA spa, the company in charge of coronavirus vaccination bookings. This followed a series of rollout delays and IT failures in the region, which has been the worst hit by the pandemic.

The vaccination campaign got off to a slow start in Lombardy, in part because the top healthcare official refused to mobilise medical workers over the Christmas holidays. Technical difficulties exacerbated the problems at the region’s vaccination centres.

ARIA was responsible for managing both the organisational and IT aspects of the vaccination programme. It was supposed to contact citizens about their vaccination and then, after the initial acceptance, send out a confirmation text with details about the date, time and location of the vaccination. After ARIA’s digital platform failed to send out details of the bookings, however, thousands of residents did not show up for their vaccination over the weekend of May 8 and 9. As a result, health operators had to personally call up people to confirm their slots. Left-over vaccines were administered to anyone available.

Despite the problems, as of May 7, 2021, Lombardy had administered over 3.9 million vaccine doses — more than any other region in Italy. ARIA’s vaccine management system was replaced by the Poste platform, which has already been successfully adopted in other regions in Italy.

The Success of the UK Vaccination Programme

The UK’s vaccine rollout has been one of the few success stories of the pandemic. The centralised structure of the NHS has offered an ideal platform for planning and coordination, but a varied and localised system of delivery has ensured an effective rollout.

COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered from 206 hospital hubs, 1,200 local vaccination service sites (run by a mixture of primary care networks and community pharmacies) and 50 vac­cination centres located in large-scale venues, such as football stadiums. Patients are con­tacted through a national call and recall programme. Once patients are notified by the service, they can book an appointment at the PCN-led vaccina­tion centre affiliated with their registered GP, or use the National Booking Service to be vaccinated by another provider, such as a community pharmacy or mass vaccination clinic.

The UK healthcare system is built on a well-developed digital infrastructure, and this has enabled a successful patient-centric model of care and helped in the rapid response during the pandemic.

Accelerating Vaccine Distribution with Digital Health

To support safe, efficient and equitable rollouts of COVID-19 vaccination programmes, European governments and healthcare organisations must:

  • Maximise the value of healthcare information and technology by:
    • Integrating data to identify critical populations, plan vaccination strategies and manage demand
    • Modelling the impact of vaccinations on priority outcomes
  • Integrate data across and enable an intelligent feedback loop with all stakeholders (manufacturers, care providers, public health authorities and the target population).
  • Deploy technologies that can be easily integrated with existing systems of record to keep workflow changes and costs to a minimum.
  • Identify priorities and specific use cases first and then examine how digital tools can help to address them to expand successful implementation strategies.

IDC’s European Healthcare Executive Summit will discuss the road to resilience and growth in the aftermath of COVID-19. By registering for the event, you will be able to join top European leaders to discuss the role of digital investments in the wider transformation of health systems.


For more information, please contact Adriana Allocato or Nino Giguashvili, or head over to and drop your details in the form on the top right.

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