Thursday, July 5, 2007

Immunization Registries…More than just a database

IZTA is pleased to welcome a new guest blogger – Sean Hubert, the Director of Project L.O.V.E. – An immunization coalition serving Franklin County, Ohio. His first posting follows:

Project L.O.V.E. and its partners recently conducted a retrospective survey where we reviewed kindergarten immunization records in our public school system. We looked back to when these children were two to see how many were up-to-date on the recommended immunization schedule. The process was cumbersome and took many partner members and countless hours to complete the study. What we found was exactly what we expected; that our children were not well protected in our urban areas against vaccine preventable diseases. It was excellent we finally had data to back up what we have been saying for some time, but there had to be a better way of getting this data.

Of course there is and it’s by using immunization registries. Not only would it be a quick query search to pinpoint areas in need for additional immunization outreach, we could focus our partners in using their valuable time for actual outreach rather than research. Not to mention, the data that we would collect from the registry would be real-time compared to the 3 year old data we collected from the retrospective study.

So why didn’t we do that? Quite simply…our registry is filled with gaps since many immunization providers still aren’t using it. It really astonished me when first taking over Project L.O.V.E. that providers wouldn’t be using a free web-based system to track their immunizations. With so many perks for using the system such as free reminder/recall notices to patients, easy access in ordering and tracking vaccines as well as easily printable reports for daycare, school and camp forms, why wouldn’t they? Although we have made some stride in provider participation, it hasn’t been an easy sale. I hate to think that it will take legislation as some states have done to get all providers to use the system but it may be our only hope.

Registries make sense in so many ways and levels. Parents never need to worry again about a paper record that can be easily lost or destroyed. Providers could track their patients much better and make fewer calls to past providers as well as never worrying that they are over immunizing a child. And Public Health could structure their limited resources and funding to those families that really need the outreach as opposed to blanketed outreach. It just makes sense…but I’m preaching to the choir.

No comments: