Making Blue Button Access to Immunization Records Quick, Easy, and Convenient

While many parents are now able to go online for answers to many of their school questions, some vital health information parents need for the school nurse is often still on paper – namely, immunization records.

At a time when we can easily do our banking and shopping online, many of us are looking to how we can access immunization records with the same ease. Thanks to a partnership between ONC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), several states are now piloting approaches where parents get direct access to their children’s’ immunization records as part of the Blue Button Initiative.

How It Works: Making Access to Immunization Records Easy & Electronic

Each state has an immunization information system that records all vaccinations that are administered by participating providers. Giving patients or caregivers online access to immunization records, through tools like portals, will reduce the need to schedule office visits to get official copies of immunization records each time they are needed. And, with these portals, providers and parents or guardians are able to use decision support tools to remind them when immunizations are due.

Participating States and Consumer Engagement Pilot Project

In October 2013, ONC and CDC launched a project in five states that connects a secure and convenient web-based portal to immunization data that can be made available to both health care providers and consumers (or in many cases, parents).

A variety of different health care providers and practices took part in the pilot projects:

  1. Arizona – working with one pediatric practice, a federally qualified health center (FQHC) and two public health clinics;
  2. Alaska – working with one public health center, a tribal health center, a FQHC and one private practice;
  3. Louisiana – working with multiple pediatric practices and is continuing to roll out the portal to its public health clinics and other private practices;
  4. Washington – working with a mobile immunization clinic; and
  5. West Virginia – starting with five pediatric practices, one family practice and expanding to roughly a dozen practices during the project.

To participate in the pilot program, the states, providers and practices had to develop ways to encourage patients to register for access to the portal.

One such practice is Latouche Pediatrics in Anchorage, Alaska, which operates three offices where more than 4,000 immunizations are administered each month, according to Chad Jensen, the practice manager. Families can log-in to LaTouche’s patient portal, view and print copies of their immunization records along with other valuable health information, Jensen explains. Patients can also use their smart phones to log into the portal, type in a facsimile number and have the immunization information sent directly to a school nurse.

The pilot programs will run through April 2016 and ONC will continue to support the programs and monitor their progress, offering suggestions for how to work through challenges and evaluate long-term success – all with an eye to the benefits to the patients and their parents.

Looking Ahead

ONC and our partners hope more states will leverage health IT to help increase immunization rates and accountability, while reducing unnecessary burdens on providers, their staff, parents and school nurses. Beyond the ONC and CDC pilot programs, there are other medical offices around the country that are proactively connecting with their state immunization system and giving families access to their vaccination records on their own patient portals.

Digital technologies have made life easier in many ways and are gaining traction in health care. Health IT is already showing how the efficiency of health care can be improved. Gaining easy electronic access to immunization records is just one step in improving these interactions.

Webinar: How Immunization Information Systems Can Help Pediatric Offices

Hear from ONC, CDC, and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) experts about the ways that Immunization Information Systems can help pediatric offices achieve meaningful use and about the collaborations between ONC and CDC around consumer access to immunization data and cross jurisdictional exchange of immunization data. The webinar will be held Wednesday, August 27th at 2pm EDT. Register today.

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