The impact of COVID-19 on Immunization Information Systems

 It is no secret that healthcare providers and healthcare technology companies had to quickly adapt to the ever-changing pandemic over the last year. Because these companies have committed to advancing healthcare information technology, the public can reap the benefits of an efficient and accurate nationwide vaccine distribution program. A lot of the nation’s vaccination distribution success can be credited to immunization information systems (IIS) for collecting and analyzing data from the millions of Americans that have now received their vaccine.  Though IISs systems have been around for many years, they adapted quickly to keep track of the massive amount of COVID-19 vaccine information being reported since the rollout began. To explore how IISs have adapted to the pandemic, let’s first explore why we use IISs.

Why Do We Use Immunization Information Systems?

Developed by healthcare technology companies decades ago, IIS are essential resources for cataloging vaccination data

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We have become much more reliant on IISs during the worldwide pandemic.

Before we get into exactly how IISs have adapted to assist national vaccine rollout, we should begin by examining their purpose pre-pandemic. Healthcare technology companies developed IISs systems over 20 years ago, meaning that you have most likely had your vaccine data stored in an IISs long before COVID-19. IISs are confidential databases that store immunization records from participating healthcare providers within a certain area; in this case, individual states in the U.S. IISs are essential to healthcare providers as the programs give professionals immediate access to a patient’s vaccination history. These systems can identify areas that may lack certain vaccines or identify children who have not yet received all of their appropriate vaccines.  Currently, all U.S. states except for one have their own IISs to monitor vaccine distribution, with the final state coming online this year.

Now that we have defined why we use IISs, let's explore some of the ways IISs have quickly advanced to meet the demands of COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

EHR Integration

Vaccination data is becoming more accessible to healthcare providers thanks to EHR integration

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EHR IISs can give your healthcare provider your detailed immunization history almost instantly.

As millions distribute vaccines, it becomes necessary for healthcare providers to have easy access to their patients vaccination data. Data access is becoming optimized thanks to EHR integration with IISs. By increasing the availability of vaccination data, providers have fewer challenges to assess a patient’s current immunization needs. The IIS EHR can easily pull up complete vaccination data on any patient, meaning that your doctor can access verifiable data that you have received the COVID-19 vaccine. IIS EHR systems can also be used to track total immunization statistics to keep track of products and distribution efficiency.

Utilizing and Expanding Partnerships with Vaccine Providers

To gather more immunization data, IISs have partnered with vaccine distributors such as pharmacies

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IISs did the work to establish connections with as many healthcare networks as possible.

For an IIS to gather massive amounts of data to give us insight on vaccine distribution, the IIS first has to establish partnerships with vaccine distributors. In the case of COVID-19, there are more vaccination locations in the U.S. than ever before. Because there is so much data coming from so many different sites, IISs had to establish partnerships with pharmacies and mass vaccination sites to collect as much information as possible. Before the pandemic, IIS had over 100,000 participating health systems reporting immunization data. That number has increased dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic in anticipation of a large-scale vaccine rollout. Thanks to the commitment from IIS and healthcare providers, more vaccination data is being collected than ever. The more data available, the better our healthcare system can administer vaccines to communities that need them.

Identifying Target Areas For Mass Vaccination Sites

Everyone needs the COVD-19 vaccine and IIS systems are locating areas that will benefit from mass vaccination sites

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Mass vaccination sites are excellent opportunities to make up for a community vaccine deficit.

With the information collected from a massive number of healthcare systems around the country, IISs have adapted to identify areas of the country where vaccine distribution is lacking. This information is extremely important to ensure that communities are not being overlooked for vaccine distribution. There are several factors that could cause a community to have a lower vaccination rate, whether it be inaccessibility issues or a low level of awareness. With the help of IISs, local healthcare systems can address these communities by setting up mass vaccination sites in the right locations to maximize immunization rates. Currently, daily vaccinations are in the millions and the country is trusting IISs to locate low vaccination areas.

Securing Large Amounts of Vaccination Data

Protection against cyber-attacks is a major concern for IISs during the COVID-19 pandemic

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When dealing with sensitive health information, data breaches are not an option.

With so much data being input to IISs, cybersecurity is a major concern for healthcare systems and patients alike. A data breach from an IISs could be extremely detrimental to immunization tracking and public trust in vaccine data collection. Because cyber attacks have already happened against vaccine developers like Moderna, IISs have increased their defense against potential hackers. The security of our national and individual vaccination data depends on a robust IISs cybersecurity system.

As more and more Americans are fully vaccinated, IISs will be used to distribute vaccination information just as they have done for the past decades. The difference with IISs use for the COVID-19 vaccine is the extremely large scale and the potential life-saving data extracted from the systems. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, healthcare technology companies have been establishing relationships and preparing for a quick and effective vaccine rollout.. Now that we are beginning to see the effects of mass vaccination, the importance of IISs has become increasingly clear. 

Healthcare providers are always looking for the most cutting-edge technology to assist their patients, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Iron Bridge remains ahead of other healthcare technology companies by providing leading IT solutions in data technology, aggregation, public health management, and patient access systems. Contact the team today to learn more about Iron Bridge’s innovative health IT solutions.

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