COVID Vaccinations Foretell Need For EMR Interoperability

The COVID-19 vaccination rollout process is reaching a critical point. Depending on the country, many of those desiring vaccination have scheduled doses or are already in the protected period. Spending this historic time in the limelight is a major victory for the IT systems that enabled a historic rollout based on strength of interoperability and ease-of-use. Now it’s imperative for healthcare organizations and governments to carefully cherry-pick the elements of this process that can be implemented into prospective immunization efforts and other mass volume population health undertakings. Doing so could revolutionize the accessibility and cross-referencing potential of health records.

Of the areas where IT proficiency is batting clean-up, vaccine education may be the most surprising. Many government information campaigns have taken a no-holds-barred approach that taps into various levels of network communication. Jeff Zients, the White House’s Covid Response Coordinator, said, “Going forward, we expect daily vaccination rates will moderate and fluctuate. We’ve gotten vaccinations to the most at-risk and those most eager to get vaccinated as quickly as possible. And we will continue those efforts, but we know reaching other populations will take time and focus.” Governments stand a better chance of getting the right message to citizens with well-constructed social media blitzes, automated Q+As, and other internet-based spins on old-fashioned outreach methods.

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The implications for real-time shot status tracking and overall immunization records are readily apparent now that organizations have had a chance to evaluate the past months. Digital reports for vaccination status have fostered an interest in QR code-based authentication for dose allocation and simpler verification for international travel restrictions. The first move for electronic medical record modernization in relation to the pandemic is equipping top-down vaccination visibility. Interoperability is intrinsic to Health Level Seven International standards. HL7 FHIR’s Immunization Resource is a translation tool meant to homogenize health reports for myriad EMR systems. The previous lack of easily reachable immunization records for adults means that pooling the information in EMRs now will lay a stronger foundation for system interoperability in the event of continued dosing for COVID vaccines.

In terms of the vaccination workflows in place, many technology providers were and are eager to jump on the bandwagon. Microsoft, Accenture, Salesforce, and others have debuted all-encompassing dose management platforms. Beyond offering basic data aggregation, these consolidated platforms can check eligibility, manage scheduling, and link up with information campaigns or related news of the day. The road forward for healthcare organization IT management will be based on facilitating the ideal of a secure, comprehensive health record system.