Immunization Information Systems 101: A Quick Guide to IIS & How They Reshape the Future of Healthcare

Tracking Immunizations in the Digital Age

Vaccines are considered one of the most notable achievements in the history of public health. They have prevented and eradicated the spread of infectious diseases and remain at the forefront of initiatives to preserve and protect population health. 

However, documenting and maintaining immunization records has not always proven to be quite as easy or effective.

Vaccines are administered across a variety of settings throughout a patient’s lifetime. This makes simple recordkeeping much easier said than done. If the phrase “immunization history” elicits panic over misplacing paper records or remembering when and where you received your last booster shot – you are not alone. But there is good news ahead.

A continuous shift towards digitizing health records in the United States is making it easier than ever to document, track, and manage vaccination records using Immunization Information Systems (IIS). IIS are electronic databases that securely store digital immunization records for patients within a specific geographic area, such as a city or state. These digital immunization registries create a single reliable source that makes vaccination records available anytime, anywhere, and for anyone within the geographic region.

The records continually update with data from key sources such as healthcare providers, pharmacies, health insurance plans, school systems, and daycares. This data generates consolidated immunization records as requested, eliminating the need for tracking cumbersome paper trails across multiple providers or systems. IIS are easy to update and quickly accessible, giving patients, providers, and public health departments a convenient tool that seamlessly maintains and shares immunization records.

A Solution that Benefits Everyone

Digital immunization registries aim to reduce unnecessary administrative costs while improving patient access, experience, and safety. IIS demonstrates a high-impact meaningful use case for accelerating interoperability objectives, but they also provide an invaluable resource for patients, families, care providers, and public health professionals.

Proof of vaccination is a long-standing requirement for enrolling in educational institutions. It has also become increasingly important for those needing to verify COVID-19 vaccination status for work, travel, or recreational activities. With IIS, patients and families can request and obtain immunization records from their state health department to meet verification requirements and track upcoming vaccination dates. 

From a clinical perspective, IIS allows providers to view a critical component of medical history. Comprehensive immunization records enable care teams to proactively manage the health and well-being of their patients and suggest appropriate and timely preventive care.

Meanwhile, IIS provides public health departments with the essential tools and resources to track vaccination rates at a population level. These valuable insights guide community-based initiatives to reduce the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases and effectively execute wide-scale public health responses. 

Currently, there is no centralized IIS in the United States. Instead, immunization registries operate at the state or local level and patient records may be requested from state health departments. However, IIS has proven to be a win-win model that, with further investment and expansion, can reshape the future of population health across the nation.

Impactful Innovation via IIS

Innovative solutions play a fundamental role in making every aspect of life quicker, easier, and more adaptable to evolving needs. In the healthcare industry, these solutions often focus on enabling a more patient-centered approach despite a historically fragmented system. 

Vaccines are not a new concept. But tools like IIS accelerate how they are recorded and monitored, providing a modern solution to an age-old problem. Beyond their initial purpose, immunization registries have also served as a foundation for innovative solutions that further improve patient engagement and experience.

Through partnerships with state health departments, Docket® expands access to IIS with a secure, app-based solution to connect healthcare consumers directly to their immunization records. 

With Docket®, millions of patients and their families can access a snapshot of their past and upcoming immunizations and quickly generate official reports for school, travel, or other requirements. Most importantly, it empowers them to do so without the need to contact their health departments or healthcare providers. 

While currently only available for patients residing in Alaska, Idaho, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Utah, the expansion of digital tools such as Docket® will further enable a consumer-driven approach to healthcare and accelerate the efforts of IIS across the United States.

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