Several states are now piloting approaches where parents get direct access to their children’s’ immunization records as part of the Blue Button Initiative, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) announced in an August 26 blog post.
In October 2013, ONC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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 healthcare providers and consumers (or in many cases, parents).
“Each state has an immunization information system that records all vaccinations that are administered by participating providers,” Simone Myrie of ONC wrote in the blog. “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.”
A variety of different healthcare providers and practices in the five states— Alaska, Arizona, Louisiana, Washington and West Virginia—took part in the pilot projects. 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 says it 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.