Integrating EHRs with vaccine registries improves accuracy of pediatric immunizations

The exchange of vaccination data between a city immunization registry and clinicians' electronic health records resulted in "significant" improvements in pediatric immunization coverage, according to a recent study in the journal Pediatrics.

Record fragmentation increases the risk of over- and under-immunization. The researchers, from Columbia University Medical Center and elsewhere, reviewed the immunization data between the New York City Department of Health' immunization registry and five clinics in New York-Presbyterian's Ambulatory Care network, which is integrated with the hospital's immunization registry. New York City's registry is one of the first to allow clinicians to download immunization information directly to their local EHR.

"Recent outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases underscore the importance that patients are fully immunized by receiving all recommended vaccines," study co-author Melissa Stockwell, an associate professor of population and family health at the Mailman School of Public Health, said in an announcement. "However, only 72 percent of young children in the U.S. have completed their primary immunization series, and evidence suggests that 10 percent to 20 percent of young children receive at least one unnecessary, extra immunization."

The study found that the exchange of information increased the up-to-date status from 75 percent to 81.6 percent, significant for all age groups. The percent of over-immunized children decreased from 8.8 percent to 4.7 percent, significant for adolescents, and the completeness of the records increased from 66.8 percent to 82.4 percent, significant for all.

"This study demonstrates that data exchange can improve child and adolescent immunization status, allowing scarce resources to be targeted to those who are truly under immunized," the authors said. "Additional development of the technology to support bidirectional immunization exchange and continued focus on local, state and federal policies to support such exchanges are needed."

To learn more:
- here's the abstract
- read the announcement