Mobile app helps track immunizations, vaccine information

A new smartphone app, ImmunizeCanada, is helping Canadian citizens across the country's 13 provinces keep track of immunizations and required vaccinations.

Initiated and funded by Canada's federal health organizations, the Apple and Android compatible app provides information and tracking capabilities in French and English, according to a blog post at Health Affairs by Kumanan Wilson and Katherine Atkinson, founders of Sigvaria Mobile Technologies, which built ImmunizeCanada for the Canadian Public Health Association.

Users enter demographic information, such as location of residence and vaccination history into the app. The software then provides a recommended vaccination schedule and creates custom profiles for individuals and family members. Parents can track vaccination history and get insight on potential vaccinations needed for travel or relocation, according to the blog post. Users can also sync the app with a smartphone calendar to create appointment reminders, and email and print immunization records.

The software innovation is just one of hundreds of mHealth tools being developed by government agencies to help citizens with healthcare needs. In Baltimore, a mobile app created by the city's health department is helping tuberculosis patients remain on track with medication and therapy.

The app also illustrates what industry watchers believe is necessary to advance mHealth among users: a tool that provides a specific solution and satisfies a user's needs.

In addition, four out of five smartphone users worldwide are interested in mHealth technology that allows them to interact with healthcare providers, and 76 percent of respondents are eager to use such tools for reminders regarding medical appointments, FierceMobileHealthcare previously reported.

The top challenge in creating the vaccination app, notes the software team, was incorporating all the vaccination stipulations and immunization requirements across the country's provinces. The app could be the starting point for what the author's call a virtual immunization passport but recognized international standards must be developed for that to happen.

"Our experience developing a national immunization app demonstrates the power of mobile technologies to overcome jurisdictional obstacles in public health," the authors write. "We believe that by empowering individuals, mobile technologies create opportunities for federal governments to better coordinate regional activities and address both gaps and overlaps in authority that often are created by constitutional ambiguities."

For more information:
- read the Health Affairs post

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