Web app helps GPs map out best route for vaccination of housebound patients

A website has been developed which helps doctors automatically devise the best route to deliver coronavirus vaccines to vulnerable housebound patients.

Those unable to travel to a local hospital, surgery, or vaccination centre are receiving home visits for their jab but GPs have had to spend time manually mapping out their trip before setting off.

VaxiMap, created by two students from Magdalen College, Oxford, comes up with the optimal route and has already been used for more than 61,000 home visit vaccinations in Britain in the last few weeks.

It comes as the UK continues to roll out the Covid-19 vaccination, at a rate of 250-a-minute in the last week.

“I saw that GPs were using an almost manual process to check which patients lived close by, and it seemed relatively straightforward to automise this for them,” said Robert Staruch, who came up with the idea.

“This would save them much-needed time, mental space, and effort.

“Practice managers were inputting addresses individually into Google Maps to create routes.

“These people are already overstretched so I thought a simple intervention could really help them.”

Mr Staruch teamed up with fellow student Tom Kirk to create the app within 48 hours.

The web app allows doctors to upload a spreadsheet containing the person’s location, which then generates a route on Google Maps with a travel time – though exact addresses are discouraged for data protection reasons.

The free service has also recently been made available internationally.

“We hope VaxiMap will have a positive impact on the vaccine rollout, helping GPs provide protection earlier to some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” Mr Kirk said.

David Andrews from Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, was one of the first GPs to use VaxiMap after writing about the issue on Twitter.

“We have to do something huge, a mammoth task on top of lots of extra work,” he said.

“So anything where we can gain an efficiency is really helpful.

“Vaximap takes seconds and it saves time. It’s so useful because it helps the most vulnerable groups.”