Rigorous Testing to Improve Timely Access to Immunization Data
If a healthcare organization wants to improve the quality of its immunization data, improving its workflows is the first step. In strengthening and maximizing workflow efficiency, healthcare providers may easily exchange information with other healthcare professionals that patients may visit during their lifetime. If electronic health records (EHRs) across the nation invest in their immunization-related capabilities, it can help support better overall care.
We believe that universal, simple and reliable access to vaccine information closes gaps in care, providing moment-in-time insights to clinicians and arming consumers with information they need to make informed decisions. Providing more timely access to immunization data is what the HIMSS Immunization Integration Program (IIP) is all about.
Last year, the IIP was approved by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) as an alternative testing method for the Transmission to Immunization Registries criterion of the 2015 Edition Health IT Certification program. The IIP uses an open-source testing tool developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology for ONC’s 2015 certification criteria and includes robust tests of clinical workflow and interoperability.
The robust testing scenarios are one of the reasons Cerner was among the first handful of companies to put our EHR platform through the voluntary testing program. The IIP was an ideal opportunity to test our workflows and registry interoperability against complex, real-life scenarios that turn multiple sources of immunization data into actionable information for clinical and personal use.
As a result, we achieved the HIMSS IIP recognition, as well as testing credit toward certification of the Cerner PowerChart® (immunizations) and Cerner FirstNet® (immunizations) EHR modules under the ONC Health IT Certification program with one effort. 1, 2
Tips to Help You Prepare for HIMSS IIP Testing
HIMSS IIP testing helped us identify ways to improve our end product. Ultimately, the changes we implemented following the testing will benefit providers, which is the most important objective.
While meeting the IIP criteria can seem daunting, we entered the program anticipating that it would help us identify areas where enhancements would be beneficial. We weren’t disappointed.
Based on our experience achieving HIMSS IIP recognition, we have a few tips for other vendors who plan to test through this program.
- Make sure you have a dedicated and stable testing environment that you can work out of for a couple of months. The IIP is not a one-day test where you walk away with your recognition seal. It’s a thoughtful process that takes time.
- Have the right people involved to cover clinical workflow, interfaces and regulatory.
- Make time with the appropriate resources in your organization to prepare and run through test cases internally several times.
- Anticipate that you’re going to identify areas for improvement. IIP involves multiple, in-depth test cases, which will likely lead you to discover gaps that require enhancements by your engineers to meet the criteria.
While it took some time and effort to complete the process, we’re satisfied with the results. Our relationship with this program over the last several years inspired Cerner to change our approaches to connectivity, advancing our promise to ubiquitous interoperability and improvement of our clinician experience in our workflows.
As more and more suppliers can complete the rigorous criteria of HIMSS IIP, we will see improved provider experiences, more complete immunization records and, ultimately, improved population health. How do we know this? Because investing in improvements to health system workflows works.
1. See the Certified Health IT Product List for details and specifics on the EHR module certification to which the IIP testing contributed.
2. For detailed information on costs and limitations related to successful implementation and use of the PowerChart® (Immunizations) and FirstNet® (Immunizations) certified EHR modules, see Cerner’s 2015 CEHRT Disclosure Information.
Learn more about the HIMSS IIP and how health IT empowers organizations to better facilitate the flow of immunization data.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.