Public health has made enormous strides over the past fifty years regarding epidemiology and disease prevention. Vaccines - ranging from the polio vaccine to your annual flu shot - have helped to minimize the destructive nature of disease, and save innumerable lives for the past several decades. Disease prevention exists as a multi-faceted segment of healthcare that involves collaboration from healthcare providers, public health officials, and health IT companies. With the development of the state immunization registry, the industry is more in touch with the spread of disease than ever before. How exactly do immunization registries work, and how is this technology changing the face of disease prevention and healthcare as a whole? The team at Iron Bridge is here to break it down for you.
What is a state immunization registry?
Localized Data Registry for the Prevention of Disease and Outbreak
A state immunization registry is basically exactly as it sounds. The registry is a confidential, population-based system of information that collects and stores data for an individual state. Holding information like state immunization schedules, disease outbreaks, and immunizations records from individual patients, a state immunization registry keeps track of all the information providers and officials need to understand the risk involved with disease outbreaks and to take proactive steps in light of an outbreak.
The registry collects vaccination information about people in the state in a bidirectional manner; you can either upload immunization information to it or download it from the registry. This information can be used by your primary care physician, epidemiologists, pharmacies, and other vendors within an interoperable system to help assess the risk of disease outbreak within the defined population.
Able to provide timely access to complete and relevant immunizations, the state registry should be an integral part of any EHR. Not only can integrating your EHR with a state immunization registry provide your healthcare provider with access to your immunizations, but they can access public health information in order to gain a greater understanding of immunizations, outbreaks, and their relationships within your region. Having access to this information by the minute allows providers to make informed decisions regarding patient care in a timely fashion.
How does a state immunization registry prevent disease?
Using Healthcare Integration to Prevent the Next Massive Outbreak
Having the technology that is able to better understand, analyze, and pinpoint risks for disease brings to question whether or not people need to be so proactive about disease prevention. After all, a collection of people have fallen victim to the notion that vaccines are linked to autism and other disorders.
Vaccinations as a whole are a prime example of a collective action problem; if everyone else is vaccinated against a disease, why should I have to be? The answer lies in the burden inflicted upon at-risk populations - like young children, people with allergies to vaccines, and those who are immunocompromised - who are unable to be vaccinated. Registries can take note of these at-risk populations, gain insight into where the disease may be breaking out, and keep safe those who are unable to be vaccinated.
In other words, preventing disease requires effort from the masses: effort in getting vaccinated, effort in updating registries, and effort in using the registry to its advantage. The state immunization registry, when combined with an interoperable EHR, helps enhance care coordination, improve patient outcomes, and prevent the mass outbreak of disease.
Think of this hypothetical scenario; the Pennsylvania syndromic surveillance system shows a small outbreak of the flu in a small town outside of Erie. Healthcare providers using an EHR that is integrated with the system receive notice of this outbreak and decide to take action. An EHR connected to a state immunization registry can do the following:
- Support patient compliance by flagging missed appointments and/or overdue immunizations
- Identify and manage panels of patients at different stages of immunization
- Use filters to identify patients most in need of intervention
- Develop clinician reports regarding vaccinations
- Manage patient follow up for at-risk communities
- Generate care-planning tools for individual patients.
In other words, the provider can easily contact patients regarding the outbreak and encourage them to make sure their flu shots are up to date. Those who are unable to get vaccinated can easily be communicated the same information and be provided with other resources for keeping themselves healthy. Information about this outbreak, fast data communication, and action from providers can help keep this flu outbreak contained.
Should all EHRs be connected to the state immunization registry?
Integrating EHRs with immunization registries keeps populations healthy
EHR vendors have an inherent responsibility to the healthcare industry and the populations they (indirectly) serve). This responsibility includes making data and features accessible and interoperable so that providers are able to maximize the quality of patient care.
By nature, a key aspect of this responsibility is ensuring that your EHR is integrated with state immunization registries. Taking on this responsibility as an EHR doesn’t have to be difficult, either. Iron Bridge can help promote interoperability between your system, healthcare registries, and more to ensure that you are creating an EHR product that improves patient outcomes day in and day out.
Think it’s time to make sure your EHR is up to speed with interoperability standards? Get in touch with the team at Iron Bridge today to get started, or learn more about Pub Hub: our public health registry solution.