Patients these days are receiving vaccines in pharmacies, urgent care centers, and primary care clinics, among other places.
It is difficult for suppliers to keep track of them. Different portals and platforms make it difficult. When asked about a particular vaccine, patients often reply, “I don’t know, I think I took it.”
Susan Freeze, RN, provider’s application manager at St. John’s Health in Jackson, Wyoming, shares an example of her healthcare journey.
“I was helping a friend move, and it was January,” she recalled. “I slipped on the ice and smashed my head. I was asked, ‘When was your last tetanus shot?’ I replied: ‘I can’t tell you.’
“But with Oracle Cerner Immunization Registry Reporting and Query technology linked to the EHR, the doctors could see that I had the vaccine three years ago,” he continued. “While another shot wouldn’t necessarily hurt me, it saved me the cost of having it again and saved my supplies. And, of course, no one wants to have extra shots.”
Prior to the installation of Oracle Cerner technology, St. John’s Health physicians had to log in separately to the Wyoming Immunization Registry to view and register vaccines.
If vaccinations were provided anywhere in St. John’s health care system, someone would have to document that information in both the EHR and the Wyoming Immunization Registry. It meant keeping the spreadsheets and putting that data into the systems at the end of each week.
The Oracle Cerner registry tool electronically submits vaccine data to the Wyoming Immunization Registry and retrieves information from the EHR to reduce manual processes such as spreadsheets.
It is a tool that is used around the clock, every day, in outpatient clinics and hospital spaces to exchange vaccine data almost immediately.
“When you can automate manual processes, it helps prevent staff burnout and provides a more complete picture of patient healthcare.”
Susan Freeze, RN, Health of St. John
“This interoperable solution works to give patients and doctors a more comprehensive view of health history, including vaccinations,” Freeze noted.
FACING THE CHALLENGE
“It’s much more efficient to have that two-way interface than the Oracle Cerner tool,” Freeze said. “When we give the vaccines, those are automatically transferred to the state without any additional effort upon completion of our documentation in the Cerner CommunityWorks EHR.
“Our nursing team doesn’t have to manage so many separate logins or push any buttons,” he continued. “Instead of having to complete those hundreds and thousands of manual entries and duplicate the data, doctors could do all of their work in the EHR.”
St. John’s Health rolled out the technology in 2019. The tool became critical when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, with vaccinations being reported to the state.
“In order to release shipments of COVID vaccines to different entities, Wyoming required that all vaccines be reported to the state within 48 hours of administration,” Freeze recalled. “We worked with Cerner’s team to quickly get everything set up to electronically submit these new vaccines to the state registry.
“TheThe emergency use authorization was issued on Friday and St. John’s Health administered its first doses the following Tuesday, “he added.” Almost instantly, the vaccinations were registered in the Wyoming vaccination registry. “
St. John’s Health is a small but powerful organization, he said.
“With the first round of COVID vaccines, we were able to administer approximately 10,000 doses to our most exposed population, including the elderly, immunocompromised people, healthcare professionals and others,” he said.
“Without the functionality to get those doses registered in the Wyoming registry within the required 48-hour period, we wouldn’t have been able to continue receiving shipments, administer those second doses, and get people vaccinated as quickly as we did,” he continued. .
As flu season approaches this year, the health organization is planning ahead.
“We intend to apply the lessons learned from our previous COVID-19 experience to future flu seasons,” he noted. “I would say that we are saving several minutes per patient and then hours per week thanks to this capacity.”
TIPS FOR OTHERS
“I strongly encourage other facilities to implement this interoperability strategy,” Freeze advised. “Yes, it’s a bit of work ahead. You have to dedicate staff to attend implementation meetings, as well as complete testing and monitoring.
“There is some maintenance going on, like reviewing a monthly status report, correcting any errors in the transmission,” he said. “Even if there is a follow up there, the benefits far outweigh any of this maintenance.”
The time saved for nursing staff in manually entering all vaccines administered into state registries is certainly worth it, he added.
“When you can automate manual processes, it helps prevent staff burnout and provides a more complete picture of patient health care,” he concluded. “The biggest benefit for doctors: less time in front of a computer, more time face-to-face with patients.”