Vaccine Data Collection through 2D Barcodes

By Judi Vallero MD, PhD, Pediatric Care Center lead, Sutter Medical Group; a HIMSS Diamond Corporate Member and National Health IT Week Partner

During National Health IT Week, champions from across the industry are uniting to share their voices on how health IT is catalyzing change in U.S. healthcare. The following post from a National Health IT Week Partner is one of the many perspectives of how information and technology is transforming health in America.

Judi Vallero MD, PhD

As a pediatrician at Sutter Medical Group since 2002 and the Pediatric Care Center lead in Davis, I have been dedicated to improving patient safety, health outcomes and patient experience while creating the most efficient and safe environment for my staff. The advent of 2D barcodes on vaccines has allowed me to achieve these goals during the immunization process.

Typically, manual entry of vaccine-related information into a patient’s electronic medical record (EMR) is time consuming and error prone. 2D barcode scanning allows you to scan information about the vaccine – including the lot number, expiration date and 10-digit national drug code – directly into the EMR. This adds another layer of protection for patient safety by validating that scanned vaccines match what was ordered. Scanned barcode data entry is also time efficient for our staff and eliminates the physical challenges of eye strain from reading small print on vaccine syringes and vials. Importantly, it increases the accuracy of the data that is recorded. Providing accurate information of recipients of certain lot number or vaccine is important in the face of a vaccine recall.

Pilot Project Success

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we enrolled 27 care centers in a pilot to better understand the adoption of this technology at Sutter clinics. We configured the scanners and trained staff on the use of the scanners; we collaborated on the best workflows to accommodate challenges faced by small or high-volume offices. The outcome showed that the adoption of this technology far surpassed adoption rates from previous CDC pilots. We believe this is in large part due to additional techniques applied to encourage use of the scanner as well as commitment from leadership to support this important effort.

Additional strategies that we attribute success to include:

  • Early/thoughtful planning decisions (scanner location, workflow changes, protocol for use)
  • Staff engaged in decision-making processes
  • Clarity in expectations
  • Solutions found/adjustments made when challenges arose

As a committed leader to this effort, I personally saw improvements in my practice from the 2015 to the 2017 pilot. I would encourage other providers, especially pediatricians who administer a high volume of vaccines, to consider incorporating 2D barcoding scanning into their vaccine ordering/documentation workflow.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.

National Health IT Week | October 8-12

Healthcare Transformation | Access to Care | Economic Opportunity | Healthy Communities

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