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Rachael Zimlich is a freelance writer in Cleveland, Ohio. She writes regularly for Contemporary Pediatrics, Managed Healthcare Executive, and Medical Economics.
Tracking, reporting, and organizing immunization-related data is difficult but can improve patient care. HIMSS has recognized several products through its voluntary testing program that can do that job and work with electronic health record systems.
One of the most difficult aspects of adult vaccinations is keeping track of who had what and when, and what they need next. Healthcare information technology can help, but with so many products on the market, it can be a challenge to find the best tools.
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) recognized this and began investigating which electronic health record products would best fulfill testing requirements and program guidelines for immunization-related capabilities set out by the organization. HIMSS’ voluntary tracking program recently recognized six products that met the criteria laid out in its Immunization Integration Program (IIP).
IIP was initiated more than four years ago through a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) contract with Chickasaw Nation Industries to help advance the integration of immunization-related tasks within electronic health record and clinic software systems.
The goal of the program is to increase vaccination rates, improve workflow and clinical and patient-decision making, create better access to immunization data and registries, and to make sure this data is shared within the electronic health record. IIP helps clinicians monitor and improve compliance through health IT integration, according to HIMSS.
Joyce Sensmeier MS, RN-BC, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, FAAN, vice president of informatics for HIMSS, said a poll of clinicians conducted by the organization revealed that they believe having immunization-related capabilities that could be integrated with EHR systems can help improve patient care, enhance their ability to meet technology-related quality metrics, and reduce the burden of reporting and tracking immunization-related data and performance measures.
She said providers can expect the IIP to continue to evolve the software capabilities and related testing and recognition program, based on input from users, developers, and the public health community.
“Providers can also expect additional software products to be recognized. So far, six EHR products developed by five software companies have been recognized by the Program,” Sensmeier said.
A number of other software developers’ products are in the pipeline for testing, she added. Sensmeier said clinicians should encourage their software vendors to get recognized by the program if they haven’t already done so.
“IIP-recognized products will enable clinicians to not only improve their workflow and ability to communicate more effectively with immunization registries, but also improve the care they deliver to their patients, in part due to more timely access to relevant information,” she said. “We think that software products recognized under [the IIP program] will improve clinical practice, and clinicians have told us that they believe this, too.”