End date for digitalization of vaccination information still unclear ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

A paper vaccination record card.
A paper vaccination record card. Source: ERR

Vaccination data on patient information portal digilugu.ee is currently incomplete, hampered by IT software problems, and it is not known when the system will become fully functional. An IT service which prompts people to get revaccinated is still a long way off, according to family doctors.

Website digilugu.ee provides access to health and dental records, and allows patients to book appointment times. However, if the user wants to check if they are up to date on their vaccinations then this is currently not possible for many people.

Le Vallikivi, chairman of the board of the Family Physicians Association, told ERR that by now, patients are already seeing the vaccination data that health authorities have put in it, and depending on the type of software they use, some doctors have a complete overview of their patients' vaccination history.

"The trouble is, there has been a change of standards and some software is not able to aggregate the data that has been entered under the old standards," he said.

Irina Filippova, chief of the Infectious Disease Surveillance and Epidemic Control Department at the Health Board, said that from mid-2016, health authorities should enter immunization information in the Health Information System in a format which allows both physician and patient to see an e-immunization passport. While information sent by the old standard is available, it is difficult to find and does not focus on the e-immunization passport format.

"The state, the Health and Welfare Information Systems Center (TEHIK), has made all the necessary applications for the e-immunization passport, and now health care providers have to implement it in their programs," she said.

Hospitals use the programs Liisa and Watson, which works to a new standard, and vaccination data they provide is also visible in digilugu.ee. However, most GPs use the Perearst2 program, which works to the old standard and does not display vaccinations in the e-immunization passport.

In January, the Health Board gathered stakeholders, in addition to representatives from the Health Board, the TEHIK and the Family Physicians Association, and the developer of the Perearst2 program.

"They confirmed that in February they would submit a timetable for the implementation of the new standards to the GP. We have another meeting in April and then we will have more information about the e-immunization passport. All parties are interested in a speedier resolution of this issue and are ready to cooperate," Filippova said.

By the beginning of the second quarter, TEHIK said it had developed the ability to display data submitted according to the old standard in the e-immunization passport, but only retrospectively, so it is still necessary to upgrade to the new standard.

Vallikivi said he sees the developer's promise to solve problems in the near future as unrealistic as there are several things that need to be fixed.

He added that there are many situations where a patient's vaccination information cannot be obtained. The digilugu.ee data starts in 2009, but information on vaccination in the 1950s, 1960s, or 1990s, and 2000s, is available only to those who have retained old school or outpatient cards, or has been retrospectively recorded by a GP. 

Filippova said the number of medical institutions reporting data according to the new standard is increasing every year. However, she also emphasized that, by law, anyone who receives a vaccination is required to record it in a paper-based immunization passport. However, this is often lost and people also turn to the Health Board for information about their vaccinations.

"Unfortunately, the Health Board only has aggregated data for counties, but no immunization data for individual patients," Filipoova said. "We advise them to turn to the vaccine administrators who served them. In their archives, databases, this information is sometimes available when the vaccine was made a couple of years ago. But if a person born in the 1960s returns to ask about childhood immunizations, then, unfortunately, the probability of finding that data is close to zero."

It is not known when the system will unify and all the existing vaccine data will be able to be viewed in one place by the doctor and patient, the Health Board said. They could not say if it would be months on years.

"It all depends on the developer and what the family doctors' association agrees with their developer," she said.

Le Vallikivi said the dream is that a nationwide digital system could send out reminders to people when a vaccine needs to be updated. Filippova also said it was a future goal and a necessary application for the Health Board. However, the reminder system can only become fully operational after the e-immunization passport is fully completed.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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