September 15, 2011

Connection to state registry aids VU vaccination efforts

Connection to state registry aids VU vaccination efforts

This fall, several pediatric clinics will be able to determine more accurately whether their patients need to receive influenza vaccine during their visit, thanks to a direct connection with the state's immunization registry.

Piloted this summer in Children’s Hospital Primary Care Clinic, Vanderbilt now has the capability to electronically retrieve immunization records from the Tennessee Immunization Registry and integrate the results for comparison with Vanderbilt's own records.

Any discrepancies are highlighted in the electronic Outpatient Whiteboard, giving the clinic team an opportunity to review both sets of records before deciding which vaccinations to administer.

While this new capability can help improve all vaccination at Vanderbilt, its arrival is especially timely as clinic teams prepare for annual flu vaccination.

According to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years who did not receive influenza vaccine last year should receive two doses this year.

“Unknown to us, these children may have received prior influenza vaccine doses elsewhere that are recorded in the state registry, and it is important to have that information so that we do not give them an unnecessary dose this year,” said Stuart Weinberg, M.D., project director of the Outpatient Whiteboard and assistant professor in the departments of Biomedical Informatics and Pediatrics.

Nurses do have access to the state immunization registry through the Tennessee Web Immunization System (TWIS), but this portal requires a separate login and lookup of the patient.

“The difference now is that the state records are automatically retrieved ahead of time and integrated into our own system, improving the workflow and saving a significant amount of time," Weinberg said.

Cynthia Biggers, manager of Children’s Hospital Primary Care Clinic, agrees. “Our ability to electronically receive this information has certainly increased the efficiency of our nursing and administrative staff but that is secondary to the quality care it allows us to provide.

“Our practice is a Vaccine For Children “Gold Award” winning practice and this type of innovation is critical when you administer over 30,000 immunizations annually.”

Children’s Hospital Primary Care Clinic medical director Barron Patterson, M.D., adds, “This electronic link with the state registry allows us to avoid missed opportunities for vaccines and prevents several immunization errors every single day. This information is vitally important to the work we do as a medical home for the patients we serve, and we are quite proud to be part of this pioneering work in Tennessee.”

Future plans include electronically sending information to the state registry regarding vaccines administered at Vanderbilt, information that currently is printed and mailed to the registry for manual entry.

Other leaders for the project include Ann Pepo, information services consultant, who worked out the various underlying legal and administrative agreements with state.

For more information, contact Weinberg at