Knox County signs $92K contract with Texas company for COVID-19 vaccine management system

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE)-The Knox County Health Department will transition to a new online COVID-19 vaccination clinic appointment system run by Luminare.

The six-month contract will cost Knox County $92,250, that price includes implementation, site planning, texting capabilities, and 24/7 support. Knox County joins a growing list of counties nationwide to sign-on with the Houston Texas-based company’s system.

Luminare’s Innoculate Covid Vaccine Management Solution is designed to administer and manage vaccinations in a high volume.

The Knox County Health Department will input the number of vaccines the county will receive and who is eligible to receive those doses.

On the front end, in sign-up, people will enter the legally required information, demographics, and consent to be vaccinated. In this step, the system will require the person making the reservation to answer “medically-relevant” screening questions to “prevent people at-risk of complications from receiving a vaccination.”

After the information is in, it’s time to pick a location and time of appointment, based on availability. Once registered, on the clinic day, people can bring a printed form of proof or use a QR code provided after a successful reservation on their smartphone.

People can also be found by name in the system.

The system tracks the vaccine to ensure they receive the correct second dose and automatically reports the date to state and federal agencies.

Based on Knox County’s contract with Luminare, there are online, phone and text capabilities.

Inspired by a family friend, needed for vaccinations

Sarma Velamuri, MD is the CEO and Co-founder of Luminare. He is a board-certified Internal Medicine physician, and created the company after his friend’s daughter showed up in his ICU nearly 10 years ago.

He shared the story with WATE 6 On Your Side Wednesday, as he stood in the middle of a mass-vaccination clinic in Dallas. Dallas County also uses the Luminare system to schedule vaccinations.

“My friend’s daughter ended up in my ICU and died of an infection. And I realized about 7 years ago that we needed better medical analytic systems for healthcare. So, we started our company to help detect infections faster,” said Dr. Velamuri.

See the full interview with Luminare CEO & Co-Founder Dr. Sarma Velamuri

In the years since he co-founded Luminare, Velamuri said the platform has been stress-tested by more than a million people from COVID-19 detection, to sepsis, to now, vaccinations.

Before a vaccine was even on the market, Velamuri said his team was preparing their system to do what it’s doing now: get vaccines to those who need them, and fast.

“We work with a lot of communities; everyone is facing the same issue nationwide. What we’ve seen is counties are really able to help these seniors who don’t have access to technology, to be able to get on that waitlist either, using a call center or having community resources,” said Velamuri.

People are able to come into a clinic, preschedule, check-in, get their shot, and be observed in less than 5 minutes, according to Velamuri.

In Corpus Christi Texas, for example, Velamuri said they are able to give 600-700 shots per hour.

“Our system is geared to be able to take communities with either a lot of resources or limited resources and multiply that by 5 or 10 X to get the best efficiency possible for getting the vaccine,” said Velamuri.

Implementing the system in Knox County

Velamuri said he is “happy” the company is working with Knox County and has a message for citizens who will use the platform:

“I love the team. you guys are blessed to have a team like that who really care about the people they’re taking care of,” said Velamuri.

Knox County is one of at least 10 counties launching with Luminare’s Innoculate system in the next few weeks.

Financial breakdown of KCHD contract with Luminare.

The contract stands out to Velamuri because of the second name signed on the paperwork: Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs. Known before this to Velamuri as WWE’s “Kane.”

“The mayor [Jacobs] is amazing. I’m a big fan of the mayor ever since I was a kid, so he promised me an autograph later. We’re super excited to be working with your community,” said Velamuri.

Knox County Health Department officials have not announced when this platform will officially launch. On Tuesday, Dr. Martha Buchanan said KCHD’s IT department is still working on the system.

“Now they’re literally building the system for us. That takes a lot of time. We want to make sure when we launch this that it works out, it’s easy for people to use, easy for people to access, we’re being really cautious,” said Dr. Martha Buchanan, KCHD Senior Director in a press briefing on Tuesday.

The system will be tested to ensure there are no issues when it rolls out, according to Buchanan.

The contract between Knox County and Luminare was signed January 28, 2021. The contracting process, according to Buchanan, is complete.

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