About the Initiative
In 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched the Consumer Engagement for Immunization Information Systems (IIS) Project. The primary goal of this project is to encourage consumer access to immunization records, thereby empowering informed decision making. Consumer-controlled access to IIS records fosters better immunized families and reduces immunization record-related entry barriers to schools and child care. In the past, immunization records could only be obtained by calling or visiting a provider’s or state health department office. This process can be time-consuming and burdensome for both providers, patients, and state health departments. During kindergarten registration or back-to-school season, when providers receive a high volume of immunization records requests, process deficiencies are compounded. To alleviate this burden, HHS and the Office of the CTO have supported online access to immunization records by piloting an immunization specific portal that interoperates with any state IIS or system that complies with HL7 bidirectional query-and-response specifications.
The Consumer Engagement for IIS project includes the following key focus areas:
- Technical Implementation: An immunization specific portal was implemented in pilot states to enable online access to immunization records and forecasts. The portal leverages the HL7 2.5.1 standard to bidirectionally query and exchange immunization records with state or regional IIS. Use of the portal requires consumers to complete a registration and identity proofing process to query the IIS for their record.
- Patient Authentication: Initially, identity proofing required provider intervention. However, in 2016, an online two-factor authentication process was enabled allowing consumers to register online and receive a one-time secure access code by SMS text message or autodial to their cellphone number. This phone number, used during the registration process must match the phone number listed in the IIS to obtain a matching immunization record for the consumer.
- Marketing: After implementing the immunization portal, it is necessary to increase consumer and provider awareness of the benefits of the tool to gain users. Marketing materials were vetted by focus groups and distributed to state health departments, providers, consumers, and stakeholders. In addition, digital advertising campaigns were launched in key market areas to increase consumer engagement for various immunization record use cases such as: back to school periods, camp registration, and travel requirements.
- Evaluation: As a pilot project, evaluation efforts inform improving upon each project year’s activities to increase consumer access to online immunization records. Evaluation activities include analysis and compilation of weekly registration metrics, online consumer surveys, state key informant interviews, and review of google analytics.
More and more, consumers rely on technology for health records access and communication. To keep up with consumer expectation, the project team is seeking patient portal, electronic health record (tethered and untethered), and personal health record partners to integrate with state or regional IIS’. This integration will enable consumers to query the IIS and keep their vaccination records in a single unified place with the rest of their health records. Interested partners may reach out to James.Daniel@hhs.gov.