A Scottish technology company has helped a hospital expand its vaccination efforts in Chicago to provide greater access for ethnic minority groups in high-risk areas of the city.

Saint Anthony Hospital turned to Glasgow-based firm Simul8 after agreeing to help Chicago City Council double its daily vaccination capacity in some of the city’s most deprived areas, where uptake had been low.

The hospital was given a week to prepare to deliver 500 additional vaccinations in one day to the Brighton Park community – an almost entirely hispanic and ethnic minority community – where residents had been reluctant or unable to come forward for their jabs.

According to Dr Eden Takhsh, vice president and chief quality officer at the Saint Anthony Hospital, this was made possible with support from simulation company Simul8, which offered the organisation free access to its software.

Simul8’s advanced modelling software was used to generate a simulation of what the patient flow might look like at double capacity so that the hospital could make the necessary adjustments.

Dr Takhsh said: “With Simul8’s help, a digital model was created to visualise exactly what would be required to upscale the vaccine rollout on the planned community outreach day. The model enabled the hospital to test and optimise everything from the number of additional registrars that would be needed to how long each vaccination should take, how to reconfigure the physical space to handle the increased capacity and how to create a safe patient flow through the system.

“On top of all of this it’s important to remember that receiving the vaccine is such a significant event for everyone coming through our doors, especially when we are trying to build confidence in those that are nervous or suspicious of it. It was imperative that we could provide the same high level of service for everyone to make the experience as easy and relaxed for our patients as possible.

“I was also mindful of the extra pressure on our staff. The only way to succeed was to have a well-organised and efficient system set up, and the simulation was essential in making the important decisions needed to optimise this effort.”

On the day, a total of 470 vaccinations were administered as part of the successful outreach.

Simul8 has been offering pro bono support to healthcare organisations throughout the pandemic. Its software can also be used for ICU bed planning and for organising Covid testing.

Frances Sneddon, chief technology officer at Simul8, said: “We’re delighted to have played a role in this great initiative to get more people vaccinated over in the US. Hospitals and healthcare workers around the world have been pushed to their limits throughout the pandemic, which is why we’ve been offering our specialist software to them for free.

“Testing everything in a virtual environment via a simulation model helps planners to quickly identify the most efficient way forward, taking this burden away from the hospital management team so that they can provide better service for their patients and ensure that their staff can all continue their amazing work.”