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Solving COVID-19 Immunization Complexities With Service Mapping

Learn how a human-centred design approach helped the people living in BC fight COVID.

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Shaping complex processes through human-centred design.

The COVID-19 pandemic created a critical need to distribute and administer vaccines to millions of people living in British Columbia. It was a turbulent time full of changing health guidelines and conflicting information from different sources. The BC COVID-19 Immunization Plan needed to follow a human-centred design approach to ensure it could reliably inform and enable access to vaccines for people living and working in all parts of BC. The success of the program would be contingent upon getting government, health organizations, and communities to collaborate in an unprecedented way.

BC Ministry of Health logo
Provincial Health Services Authority logo
Deloitte Logo

OXD worked with the Ministry of Health, the Provincial Health Services Authority, and Deloitte ImmsBC implementation team to design systems to support medical staff in delivering COVID-19 vaccinations throughout BC. The Imms Plan required a system that could manage vaccine inventory, track vaccination appointments, and document electronic vaccination records. The implementation team needed a way to quickly and effectively solve the problem of vaccinating five million people across BC.

Start vaccinating millions of people… now.

When OXD joined the project, the province was already in Phase Two of the BC COVID-19 Immunization Plan, vaccinating high-risk populations. They were preparing to enter Phase Three, mass immunization of the general population. The health authorities were designing new models for mass immunization clinics of varying sizes. In addition, the BC government was designing a digital service to support those clinics—all at the same time.

The Ministry, health authorities, Deloitte, and OXD needed to understand all the possible processes and journeys of people working and moving through vaccination clinics, while the design of the physical clinics was still unknown. The project team also needed to take high level directives and turn them into detailed business processes and requirements for implementation of the digital system. All the while, time was running out to ensure millions of people could get vaccinated.

This is where service design and mapping played a critical role.

Help us experience or picture the story, so we can make informed decisions."

Heidi Giesbrecht, Senior Director for Digital Health Strategic Initiatives

Through service mapping, we were able to give visibility to the possible roles, tasks, behaviours, and support needs of the people who’d be working in the clinics. Service maps were also used to bridge the gap between high-level decision-makers and the implementation team-who needed transparent and clear requirements and processes to design for. We helped bring together all the different departments and roles across organizations to communicate and collaborate. 

Photo of Deborah MacKenzie, OXD (left) and Melanie Worobec, PHSA right, at the first pilot COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Vancouver, March 2021, which was successful due to service mapping methods.
Deborah MacKenzie (OXD) and Melanie Worobec (PHSA) at the first pilot COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Vancouver, March 2021

Create as many service maps as it takes to get it right.

The BC COVID-19 Immunization Plan was a brand new service, delivered in an unprecedented way, in a complex environment.

The project involved hundreds of team members, a dozen work streams, and a complex provincial health system. To succeed, the team needed a way to create a shared understanding of the component parts of the immunization journey in a way that could be adapted to the varying needs of the people involved in the decision-making process.

To do this, we created service maps. Many, many… so many… service maps.

Image showing service mapping iterations for the vaccination administration project
We created maps and process diagrams—all describing the same future vision, but all in very different ways.

Service mapping helped us understand the omnichannel service experience we were creating for citizens:

  • To identify the actions, actors, technologies, processes, and policies involved in the service.
  • To identify unmet needs and opportunities to improve.
  • To discuss the big questions to ask the leadership team.
  • To identify all the alternative scenarios we might need to address.

We created both service maps and process diagrams centred around the experiences of people in the clinics—all describing the same future vision, but in very different ways.

These maps were an essential tool to help the province deliver mass immunization clinics as quickly as possible.

The positive impact of service mapping.

The Imms plan and ImmsBC platform, delivered by the health authorities across BC, helped administer over 12 million vaccine doses to more than 4 million people. Vaccines were administered through 170 mass clinics and 203 First Nations communities.

Photo of a person putting a bandage on an arm with the COVID-19 vaccine and clinics numbers count animated overtop showing the successful program through service mapping
  • 14,219,993 vaccine doses*
  • 4,453,751 people fully vaccinated*
  • 170 mass clinics
  • 203 First Nations communities

*Vaccine and clinic numbers are as of February 28, 2023

Service mapping played a critical role in its success. By creating a clear and comprehensive view of the processes and tying them to the real experiences of people administering and receiving vaccines, we identified and addressed many challenges. As a result, mapping led to better services and experiences for everyone involved in the clinics, while ensuring equitable access to vaccines for the public.

It was an absolute privilege to be a part of the incredible amount of work and dedication that was put into making the COVID-19 Immunization Plan happen in BC.

Get a deeper dive into the service mapping methods we used to solve this complex challenge

In our free webinar, we explain more about the service mapping methods we used to answer critical questions and streamline processes to support the COVID-19 vaccination clinics.