In recognition of World Immunization Week, HIMSS spoke with Joe Williams, president and lead developer of clinical applications for Electronic Services Technologies, an organization with a product earning the HIMSS Immunization Integration Program (IIP) Seal of Approval.
Engaging with IIP Testing Methods
In my role at Electronic Services Technologies, I’m both the president and lead developer of clinical applications. It was up to me to figure out our involvement with HIMSS IIP and identify the cost factor in implementing integrated immunization solutions.
Many stakeholders have struggled with the digital health components of streamlining immunization data due to associated costs. I soon learned that the impetus behind the HIMSS IIP program was to encourage vendors to go through the IIP testing method and provide feedback on it.
Our organization believed the IIP perfectly fit our frontline and clinical applications. We also knew it was critical to improve accessibility of digital data-sharing at point of service to integrate that data into the healthcare ecosystem.
A collaborative effort of HIMSS, Drummond Group and Chickasaw Health Consulting, LLC, the Immunization Integration Program (IIP) seeks to use electronic health records (EHRs) and other clinical software to improve U.S. immunization rates, which are linked to better health outcomes, reduced healthcare costs, and higher clinician productivity.
The Implementation Process
For the most part, getting started was simple. Initial phases included reviewing detailed documentation and figuring out how it worked to plan next steps internally for implementation. It did take some insight on my part to balance documentation with the flow and distribution of information.
However, tools that HIMSS made available from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), such as checklists, simplified the transition during development. These materials guided us through the process and ensured a smooth implementation. I also found that the ONC approval of IIP as an alternative testing method for the Health IT Certification Program appealed to developers.
The IIP earned approval from the ONC as an alternative testing method for the Health IT Certification program in October 2017.
Electronic Services Technologies earned the HIMSS Immunization Integration Program seal of recognition by demonstrating that its product includes capabilities that contribute to improved immunization rates by:
- making it easier to administer appropriate vaccines.
- supporting timely access to immunization information.
- improving vaccine tracking and safety.
The Importance of Integrated Immunization Solutions in Improving Public Health
Until being involved in the IIP, I wasn’t aware of some of the issues surrounding immunizations. Now, I understand how vital they are for public health. As the world grows more globally connected (such as more frequent international travel), it becomes even more vital to have tools increasing accessibility to immunization data, so that digital immunization data and record-keeping become readily available at a lower cost.
Why Get Involved with IIP?
Everyone should be able to contribute to advancing immunization efforts within their organization, and the HIMSS IIP ultimately prompted our involvement.
Whether a vendor, care provider or patient, the fact is that lack of access to immunizations is a public health issue. It’s my belief that healthcare organizations should prioritize improving efficiency and streamlining of digital immunization data.
For vendors, the IIP provides an opportunity to earn alternative certification of that module at an affordable cost, being the time spent on development.
I would encourage vendors to be a part of this program to help develop usable and acceptable, immunization-ready applications for the healthcare industry. From the developer standpoint – especially at smaller companies, the IIP provides an opportunity to complete an alternative testing method, which we did with development of our applications. Thus, for my company, we felt it made sense to complete the testing and earn the IIP seal of approval.
We are certainly glad we did, because our organization is now a viable player for providing low-cost, immunization-reporting capabilities.
Learn more about the HIMSS IIP and how health IT empowers organizations to better facilitate the flow of immunization data.
Read a World Immunization Week blog post from another IIP participant.