Interior hero background

Altru Employee Creates Technology for Use During COVID-19 Vaccine Administration

Posted OnDecember 09, 2021



Altru’s Innovation Attracts Interest from the CDC 

Grand Forks, N.D. - Altru is celebrating the innovation of our Information Services team for creating the technology to quickly and accurately enter COVID-19 vaccination information into a patient’s record.  

During the earlier phases of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, Alex Shimek, an Application Analyst for Altru, developed a system of using barcodes to log vaccine data, in order to transfer that information to a patient’s electronic medical record. This innovation attracted the interest of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as Alex’s invention was believed to be the first of its kind in the nation to improve this process in such an efficient way.  

“When I do things like this, it’s just making things easier for people,” Shimek said. “The fact that nobody else did anything like this, according to the CDC, is crazy!” 

When nurses initially administered COVID-19 vaccinations at the Alerus Center earlier this year, much of the information was logged by hand. This led to mistakes, which had to be fixed, one at a time, by a nurse. Once Shimek’s barcode system was put into place, the number of errors during a given week went from 281 to zero.  

“I am very proud of Alex,” said Doreen Lindsey, Manager of Clinical Applications at Altru. “He identified an opportunity for improvement and took the initiative to find a way to improve the process. I applaud his entrepreneurial spirit towards making the process more efficient for staff administering COVID-19 vaccinations. His work has definitely made a huge impact for the organization and community!” 

As part of his invention, Alex also created an app just for Altru and Grand Forks Public Health to use, especially during the mass vaccination clinics.  

“Any time the nurses were switching between Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, they would scan whichever barcode they were given and the app would prefill all of that information,” said Shimek. “I like to dabble in programming. I took courses on it in college for my degree. Occasionally I’ll throw something together if it makes something easier for our Altru Team.” 

Alex’s innovations have been shared as a model for other health systems in the area. The CDC is also planning to share this technology with other healthcare leaders nationwide.