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Leveraging Information Technology to Improve Vaccination Rates in America’s Communities

Leveraging Information Technology to Improve Vaccination Rates in America’s Communities

By Warren Williams, branch chief, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; part of the HIMSS IIP initiative

Vaccinations play an important role in preventing many serious and potentially life-threatening diseases. In fact, research shows that being up to date on vaccinations leads to better health outcomes, higher levels of productivity, and lower healthcare costs. Despite these benefits, the number of adults who have received all recommended vaccinations continues to be low. And while immunization rates among children are high – more than 90 percent – such rates have declined in recent years.

Within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), we are taking several important steps to leverage the electronic health records (EHRs) used by the vast majority of hospitals and physician practices across the country to improve vaccination rates.

Recognizing that EHRs and other clinical software play a key role in helping clinicians manage and administer vaccines, CDC NCIRD launched a program five years ago to identify and advance the widespread adoption of immunization-related software capabilities to improve clinical workflow and usability, reduce provider burden and improve information sharing with immunization information systems (IIS) (often referred to as immunization registries).

We’ve made progress. HIMSS – in collaboration with Chickasaw Nation Industries and the Drummond Group – recently launched the HIMSS Immunization Integration Program (IIP), an independent, voluntary software recognition program that brings immunization-related software capabilities to hospitals and physician practices across the United States.

The HIMSS IIP enables software developers to both test and be publicly recognized for their integration of high-priority, consensus-based, immunization-related software capabilities within their products. Already, six commercial products, which together represent more than 25 percent of the EHR market, have been recognized by the HIMSS IIP for integrating these capabilities. This will make it easier for clinicians using these products to administer vaccines by giving them more timely access to immunization histories and forecasts and enhancing information sharing between EHRs and IISs. Other software developers are also in the queue to receive recognition through the HIMSS IIP in the coming months.

The HIMSS IIP is part of a broader effort at CDC NCIRD to use information technology to improve vaccination rates and increase collaboration among the clinical and public health communities. CDC, the American Immunization Registry Association (AIRA), and the IIS community are supporting progress in EHR-IIS electronic data exchange through development of guidance documents, identification and implementation of tools to support onboarding, and technical support provided to individual IIS programs.

In the coming months, CDC NCIRD plans to further expand coordination across these important efforts, engaging clinicians, EHR and other clinical software developers, and the IIS community to collaborate on challenges associated with vaccination management and information sharing. Together, we will continue to leverage information technology to improve vaccination rates in America’s communities.

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.

HIMSS Immunization Integration Program

A collaborative effort supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Immunization Integration Program seeks to empower organizations to better facilitate the flow of immunization data and improve U.S. immunization rates, which are linked to better health outcomes, reduced healthcare costs, and higher clinician productivity.

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