Making COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Easier
Twilio developed a call system to help emergency responders effectively communicate with healthcare providers on vaccine logistics.
The availability and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines has provided hope that life can eventually return to normal. But getting vaccines into the arms of people across the United States has been a major logistical undertaking. Now that the vaccines have been developed and approved by the Food and Drug Administration, making them available to the public requires significant communication and coordination between state and local agencies, medical care providers, and their supply chain partners. Everyone involved needs information on how to request new shipments, when shipments will arrive, and how to store them.
Communication is the key, so that is why some state and local agencies turned for support to Twilio, a firm that provides a cloud platform to help organizations engage with consumers and customers across all communication channels.
Easing Critical Communications about Vaccine Distribution
When the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council and the Texas Division of Emergency Management asked Twilio for help, the firm had a solution ready within a day of receiving their request.
The tool Twilio developed provides a 24-hour hotline for inbound calls about vaccination logistics. It also allows emergency responders to coordinate with healthcare providers on a personal number for inbound and outbound calls. This hybrid hotline/phone system is designed to direct all incoming requests to the right person, while also enabling each emergency responder to make calls from their own number when follow-up calls are needed.
Each emergency responder has a list of healthcare providers they need to call and coordinate with. When a provider, such as a pharmacy, has a followup question, they know whom to contact because the outbound call comes from the responder’s individually assigned number. But the system still works like a call center because, if the original contact is unavailable, the call can be routed to another responder to ensure the caller gets an immediate answer to their question.
Since it was deployed, the tool has handled thousands of calls, eliminating much of the confusion and delays that could have resulted without such a sophisticated and efficient system.
A Commitment to Helping Throughout the COVID-19 Crisis
Responding to crises is a key component of Twilio’s approach to fostering social change. Since the start of the pandemic, the firm has used its technology to address various needs.
As doctors looked for ways to cut back on in-person patient visits, Twilio helped 19,000 healthcare providers adapt to remote care. More than 1 billion telehealth minutes were delivered by Telehealth Video, a service of electronic health company Epic, which is powered by Twilio Programmable Video.
Finding people who might have been exposed to the virus, testing them, and suggesting isolation if they tested positive became critical to containing the virus. Twilio supported 28 contact-tracing initiatives that covered nearly half of the U.S. population.1
One such initiative happened in Atlanta. Limitations on social gathering have had an enormous impact on the lives of people who work in the hospitality industry. More than two-thirds of the 500,000 people in the state of Georgia who work at restaurants, hotels, and tourism destinations live in the metro Atlanta area.2
ATLFAMILYMEAL is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting hospitality employees who experience economic distress and food insecurity because of the crisis. Twilio worked with the organization to develop a text-message system for coordinating food drop-offs, and that effort helped facilitate the delivery of 75,000 meals to hospitality workers.
The company also provided direct financial support—through $1 million in donations from its impact fund—to organizations engaged in relief efforts across the globe.
Determined to Bring Positive Social Change on Multiple Fronts
The services that Twilio provides are well suited to the communications challenges that arise from a crisis of this scale. But the firm had been actively engaged with efforts to bring positive social change well before the pandemic. Its social impact division, Twilio.org, has been investing in and building social impact programs since the firm’s founding in 2008.
The firm has partnered with organizations so that its technology can be used to reduce school absenteeism, help people register to vote, and provide support to at-risk LGBTQ youth.
Twilio’s employees are as committed to making a difference as the firm is. Through the firm’s employee impact program, WePledge 1%, staff members give 1 percent of their time, income, or equity to causes they care about.
In addition to its social programs, Twilio is equally committed to environmental efforts. It is taking steps to reduce its carbon footprint. It also constantly monitors its governance practices on issues such as board diversity, stockholder rights, and executive compensation.
As the firm’s chief executive and co-founder, Jeff Lawson, noted in the firm’s 2020 Impact Report, “Businesses have a responsibility to give back to our communities and be good neighbors.” He added, “Investing in social impact becomes even more critical when times are tough, and 2020 certainly put businesses to the test.”
Sustainable Development Goals
The Sands Capital six investment criteria tend to lead us to businesses that are innovators or vital facilitators of change in industries undergoing significant transformation. Twilio is one of many portfolio businesses that create impact by addressing at least one major social or environmental challenge identified by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs to which Twilio contributes are SDG 3, Good Health and Well-Being; SDG 4, Quality Education; SDG 5, Gender Equality; SDG 7, Affordable and Clean Energy; and SDG 10, Reduced Inequalities.
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