ONC approves new way to transmit immunization records

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The electronic health records meaningful use program includes requirements that a provider’s EHR or other clinical systems can successfully test transmission of immunization records and appropriate data to an immunization registry.

Now, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has approved an alternative testing method developed by HIMSS, known as the HIMSS Immunization Integration Program, or HIMSS-IIP.

The new methodology uses a testing tool developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. HIMSS collaborated on the program with ICSA Labs and Chickasaw Health Consulting under a contract with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One goal of HIMSS-IIP is to facilitate agreement on priority immunization-related software capabilities that better align with clinical workflows, enable software developers to test and achieve recognition of their products under the program and provide guidance for improving usability of immunization-related software functions.

Also See: How Michigan’s HIE facilitates immunization lookups

The core goal of the program is to assure that physicians have immunization information available to them at the point of care within their clinical systems to ensure patients are up to date on their shots and to be able to use the data in the EHR to evaluate groups of patients.

For instance, a physician can run a query to determine if all pediatric patients are current on immunizations, says Floyd Eisenberg, vice president of quality and regulatory compliance with Chickasaw Health Consulting.

“This improves data quality, usability and clinician workflow by sending appropriate queries and getting appropriate information back,” Eisenberg explains. “The immunization registry has all the information sent to it. But a patient may bring in information on a vaccine that is not in the registry.” Once entered into the EHR, the missing vaccine now adds to a more complete record.

For now, three unidentified software vendors are testing the HIMSS immunization program and expect to complete the tests in several weeks, at which time more vendors will join and the process will begin to educate providers, particularly those in pediatrics, Eisenberg says. Work also will start with professional societies to get their support and have them inform their members.

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