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Improved interoperability eases immunization tracking at St. John’s Health

Patients nowadays get vaccines at pharmacies, urgent care centers and primary care clinics, among other areas.

THE ISSUE

It’s problematic for providers to help keep an eye on them. Different portals and platforms make that challenging. When asked in regards to a particular vaccine, patients often respond, “I have no idea.I think I acquired that certain.”

Susan Freeze, RN, provider applications manager at St. John’s Health in Jackson, Wyoming, shares a good example from her very own healthcare journey.

“I was helping a pal move, also it was January,” she recalled. “I slipped on the ice and split my head open. I was asked, ‘When was your last tetanus shot?’ I replied, ‘I couldn’t let you know.’

“But with the Oracle Cerner Immunization Registry Reporting and Query technology linked to the EHR, clinicians could actually see I had the vaccine 3 years ago,” she continued. “While another shot wouldn’t necessarily have harmed me, it saved me the expense of having it again, also it saved the supplies. And, needless to say, no one really wants to have extra shots.”

Prior to the Oracle Cerner technology was create, St. John’s Health clinicians had to sign in separately to the Wyoming Immunization Registry to see and record vaccines.

If immunizations received anywhere over the St. John’s Health system, someone would have to document that information in both EHR and the Wyoming Immunization Registry. It meant maintaining spreadsheets and inputting that data in to the systems by the end of every week.

PROPOSAL

The Oracle Cerner registry tool electronically sends vaccine data to the Wyoming Immunization Registry and retrieves information from the EHR to lessen manual processes like spreadsheets.

It is a tool that’s used all day long, every day, over the ambulatory clinics and in the inpatient space to switch vaccine data almost immediately.

“When you’re able to automate manual processes, it can help prevent staffing burnout and a far more complete picture of patient healthcare.”

Susan Freeze, RN, St. John’s Health

“This interoperable solution works to provide patients and clinicians a far more complete view of health histories, including immunizations,” Freeze noted.

MEETING THE TASK

“It’s a lot more efficient to possess that bidirectional interface of the Oracle Cerner tool,” Freeze stated. “Whenever we give vaccines, those automatically get transferred to the state without the extra effort upon completion of our documentation in the Cerner CommunityWorks EHR.

“Our nursing team doesn’t have to manage as much separate logins or push any buttons,” she continued. “Rather than needing to complete those hundreds and a large number of manual and duplicate data entries, clinicians could do all their work in the EHR.”

St. John’s Health implemented the technology in 2019. Once the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the tool became critical forreporting vaccinations to hawaii.

RESULTS

“To be able to release COVID vaccine shipments to different entities, Wyoming needed that all vaccines be reported to hawaii within 48 hours of administration,” Freeze remembered. “We caused the Cerner team to quickly get everything set up to electronically push these new vaccines to hawaii registry.

“TheEmergency Use Authorizationarrived on a Friday, and St. John’s Health gave its first doses on the next Tuesday,” she added. “Easily, the immunizations were recorded in the Wyoming Immunization Registry.”

St. John’s Health is really a small but mighty organization, she contended.

“With the initial round of COVID vaccines, we could actually administer around 10,000 doses to your most exposed population, like the elderly, immunocompromised persons, healthcare workers among others,” she said.

“Minus the functionality to obtain those doses recorded in the Wyoming registry within that required 48-hour period, we wouldn’t have already been in a position to continue getting shipments, give those second doses and obtain people vaccinated as quickly once we did,” she continued.

Because the flu season approaches this season, the healthcare organization is preparing in advance.

“We plan to apply the lessons learned from our prior COVID-19 experience to future flu seasons,” she noted. “I’d estimate that we’re saving several minutes per patient and hours weekly due to this capability.”

ADVICE FOR OTHERS

“I wholeheartedly encourage other facilities to implement this interoperability strategy,” Freeze advised. “Yes, it’s some build up front. You need to dedicate staff to wait implementation meetings along with complete testing and monitoring.

“There exists a little ongoing maintenance, such as for example reviewing a monthly report from hawaii, correcting any errors in transmission,” she said. “Since there is follow-up there, the huge benefits far outweigh some of this maintenance.”

Enough time saved for nursing staff so far as manually entering all vaccines administered into state registries is certainly worthwhile, she added.

“When you’re able to automate manual processes, it can help prevent staffing burnout and a far more complete picture of patient healthcare,” she concluded. “The best benefit for clinicians: less time before some type of computer, more face-to-face time with the patients.”

Twitter:@SiwickiHealthIT

Email the writer:bsiwicki@himss.org

Healthcare IT News is really a HIMSS Media publication.

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