Now that the COVID-19 vaccine rollout has begun, electronic health records are becoming more important than ever for the general public’s health. EHR systems within the last year have had to adapt quickly and optimize their systems to handle large amounts of vaccination data. While we are in the midst of a worldwide health crisis, keeping accurate data on who has received the vaccine and when is more important than ever. Thanks to EHR integration, we are getting closer to developing digital vaccine credentialing solutions.

You may have heard of vaccine credentialing before as the idea of “vaccine passports” has been a hot topic in the news recently. A “vaccine passport” is a verifiable credential that will give vaccinated individuals the ability to travel outside of the country or return to in-person work. In this article, we are going to further explore what vaccine credentialing looks like, how EHR providers have met the challenge of handling such massive amounts of data, and potential concerns that still exist. If you are curious about vaccine credentialing, keep reading.

What is Vaccine Credentialing and How Does EHR Integration Help?

EHR integration ensures that all COVID-19 related data is stored properly

doctor with stethoscope filling syringe white background gray hair glasses
EHRs will be used as the verification tool for all vaccine credentialing.

As more and more individuals in the United States receive the COVID-19 vaccine, there is more vaccine-related data to be collected and stored in EHRs. It is important for the CDC and other healthcare organizations to have access to patient vaccination records as we continue to navigate through the pandemic. The goal of EHR integration in the context of vaccine credentialing is to make sure that every patient that receives a vaccination, has the date and type of vaccine is properly recorded, and that the information is easily accessible to all pertinent healthcare providers.

What is a Vaccine Passport?

Still in development, a “vaccine passport” is a proposed idea that will allow those with the COVID-19 vaccine to travel outside the country

man at airport security checking passport credentials airline worker computer
Displaying your vaccination status at the airport is likely in the near future.

Once people are fully vaccinated and immune to COVID-19, it is proposed that vaccine data stored in EHRs can be used for vaccine credentialing or a “vaccine passport.” Much like a driver’s license or a regular passport, your COVID-19 vaccine status can now be used as a verifiable digital credential. A verifiable digital credential is a set of claims about an individual that cannot be forged. In this case, instead of your citizenship, it's your COVID-19 vaccination record. EHRs will be used to issue and verify these credentials as “vaccine passports” are issued.

Recent Developments in EHR Technologies For the COVID-19 Vaccine Credentialing

EHRs have quickly adapted over the last year to record and distribute massive amounts of verifiable vaccination data

healthcare worker in hallway holding clipboard glasses smiling
The advancements in EHR technology have made vaccine distribution and tracking possible.

The whole world has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and so have electronic health records. New features are constantly being developed to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and help evenly distribute vaccines to the public to verify vaccine credentials, it is important that EHRs can automate as much of the process as possible. Here are just some of the solutions that have been introduced that will help with vaccine credentialing:

  • Automatic scheduling - Since Moderna and Pfizer have different waiting periods between first and second doses, it can be difficult to know when to get their second dose. Thanks to EHR integration, second vaccine appointments are scheduled automatically.
  • Optimized decision support - EHR systems are now able to remind and verify healthcare providers that their patient is receiving the correct second dose of the vaccine. For example, it is extremely important to know whether a patient has received their first dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. New reminders ensure that patients receive the correct vaccine when they return for a second dose.
  • Vaccine analytics - The EHR system collects data that shows how many people in the community have yet to be vaccinated.
  • Vaccination status - Patients have access to their sharable and verifiable immunization status.
  • Post-vaccination surveillance - Healthcare providers are now able to track side effects from patients post-vaccination.
  • Public health reporting - EHRs are now able to efficiently communicate information between healthcare providers and local health departments. 

Concerns About Vaccine Credentialing Solutions

Vaccine credentialing may be able to get us back to traveling, but it is not without concerns from the public

medical staff coworkers looking at files questioning group discussion hospital
There are still many important questions to be answered about vaccine credentialing.

Living in the digital age, many individuals are concerned about personal and medical privacy, especially when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. Many want their vaccination to be completely anonymous. However, tracking of symptoms and contact tracing are invaluable information for disease prevention. This poses the question, how can EHRs track vaccine distribution without compromising individual privacy. To solve this issue those who wish to remain anonymous will only be tracked with their consent.

Authentication of these vaccine credentials is also an important issue to consider. There needs to be ways to verify that a vaccine certificate was not fabricated or has incorrect information. Right now, an authentication method using a scannable photo in tandem with a barcode to prevent any opportunity for forgery is being proposed. Using this method, the vaccine credentials can be distributed through mobile phones or physical pieces of paper, meaning that these credentials will be available to all individuals, not just those with smartphones.

COVID-19 vaccine credentialing is a brand new phenomenon that the medical community and EHR systems are working to adapt to as quickly as possible. These new technologies are still being developed as we begin to emerge from the worldwide pandemic. When we begin credentialing covid vaccine recipients, we will be able to resume international travel and prevent the further spread of COVID-19. As “vaccine passports” are rolled out, it will become the new normal for travel and disease tracking, all made possible thanks to rapid EHR integration. The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear the power that EHRs hold when it comes to keeping track of our health. In the coming months, we will see EHR integration adapt even further to combat COVID-19 as borders begin to open and we return to regular travel.

As healthcare technology rapidly advances, providers are always looking for the most cutting-edge technology to assist their patients. Iron Bridge remains at the forefront of these EHR integrations with its 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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