Mobile technologies in the hands of healthcare consumers can help mitigate some challenges that immunization registries face, according to a study published in the new issue of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

For instance, “Engaging individuals to have more control over their own immunization information using their mobile devices could improve the timeliness and accuracy of data in central immunization information systems,” write authors Kumanan Wilson and Katherine Atkinson of Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in Canada and Shelley Deeks and Nathasha Crowcroft of the Lana School of Public Health in Toronto. “Other opportunities presented by mobile technologies that could be exploited to improve immunization information systems include mobile reporting of adverse events following immunization, the capacity to scan 2D barcodes, and enabling bi-directional communication between individuals and public health officials.”

Two recent changes in particular challenge current ways of tracking vaccine information. There is increasing fragmentation of vaccine administration in some jurisdictions, as a service historically provided only by physicians or public health organizations now is being done at other locations, such as pharmacies. And the increasing mobility of consumers themselves is a challenge, authors contend. “These changes have occurred against a background of drift in vaccine policy and increasingly frequent changes in the combination of vaccines available in each jurisdiction, and the schedules in which they are delivered.”

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The authors tout a free smartphone app for iOS and Android devices, called ImmunizeCA, enabling individuals to track their own and family immunizations, along with providing information on types of vaccinations and which ones are publicly funded, and the ability to view outbreaks of preventable disease in their area. Data on the app can be emailed, printed or backed up on a Google Drive or a Cloud host.

The ultimate goal of mobile enhancement of immunization data is to have a system where the same data resides with an individual, their provider and a public health agency, authors say.

In the study, they walk through three phases for reaching the goal of mobile-enhanced immunization processes via unidirectional flow of proof of immunization from a mobile device to an immunization information system, bi-directional flow of data between mobile devices and the immunization system, and ancillary features to complement surveillance. The study is available here.

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