Countries Gather to Share Lessons Learned on Electronic Immunization Registries
By Laurie Werner, Global Director & Dawn Seymour, Deputy Director, BID Initiative
Apr 21, 2016
Implementing electronic immunization registries (EIRs) is not an easy process yet several countries have been and continue to be successful in this. In April, the Improving Data Quality for Immunizations (IDQi) project sponsored a regional meeting of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for countries in the Americas and Africa (with representation from Tanzania, Zambia, and The Gambia) to share lessons learned about the development and implementation of various EIRs.
Country participants represented a spectrum of timelines of implementation around EIRs, with some countries in the initial consideration and planning stages to countries that have successfully used EIRs on a national scale for several years. Pre-selected countries, including Tanzania as part of the BID Initiative, presented more detail about what these timelines looked like within their specific country context. In between those case studies, working groups discussed specific questions such as the leading causes that prevent health information systems from being adopted, the transition from a paper-based information system to an electronic information system, and considerations for selecting a software platform and the development process.
What emerged from the showcases and discussions were similarities and shared lessons learned between the various continents and regions. Participants emphasized the need to align across the full health system and other government agencies to build national strategic plans and policies around electronic health (eHealth) in response to and in anticipation of rapidly changing technologies. Participants agreed to a need for good governance and a committee or technical working group to ensure systems are developed to be interoperable with each other. Beyond the technology alone, the importance of addressing the human side of technology also arose in that users should be actively involved in the development of the functional requirements and design of the system to ensure adoption in the short-term and sustainable use in the long-term.
PAHO stated a statistic during the meeting that from their experience in the Americas, only 24% of implementations have been successful with 44% suffering difficulties and 32% being failures. What this meeting provided, however, is an opportunity for countries to build on that 24% of successes by learning and sharing from each other. It was also clear that BID Initiative can learn much from the experiences in the Americas and that in turn, lessons can be shared from the BID Learning Network (BLN) and demonstration countries across Africa.
Visit PAHO’s website for further information around their work in immunization and read their recent post on TechNet 21: Third Regional Meeting to Share Lessons Learned in the Development and Implementation of Electronic Immunization Registries.