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Blog: Infoway Connects

An Innovative Approach to Improving Immunization Management in Canada

Posted on September 06, 2016 by Beverly Knight and Claudia Brown

Despite investments in jurisdictional immunization registries, data within them remains incomplete. Immunization information exists in silos. As with other areas in health care, the administration of vaccines is complex and handled differently in each province and territory. Although there has been a number of groups that have initiated work to fill gaps in electronic sharing of the data; there has been little to no coordination of effort.

Lessons learned from past efforts of both Canada Health Infoway and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) indicate that governance is at the heart of the issue related to immunization registries and the sharing of immunization data. The collaboration between Infoway and PHAC has led to coordinated leadership that has been embraced by the jurisdictions. Recently at the e-Health 2016 conference, Infoway and PHAC shared the approach, lessons learned, progress to date, as well as the impact the immunization community in Canada has had on the objective of improving the sharing of immunization information.

Successful approach considerations:

  • Identify a problem that is shared by multiple stakeholders and create a mechanism for them to collaborate in order to address the problem
  • Identify a stakeholder who will actually use the products developed and therefore is motivated to drive the progress of the work
  • Narrow down use cases and identify key data required

Lessons learned:

  • Identifying a common interest among stakeholders to motivate engagement
  • Enlisting appropriate people with trusted relationships leads to stakeholder alignment and ultimately momentum
  • Aligned national and project initiatives require involvement of national agencies to secure adoption
  • Just do it!

Achievements thus far:

  • Coordinated governance, (i.e., many groups and committees working on overlapping challenges)
  • Pragmatic and timely collaboration with national and jurisdictional partners, (including liaison among related advisory committees)
  • A set of immunization data elements and subsets for sharing data
  • Jurisdictions are collaborating and championing the work

Given the momentum created thus far, next steps include building on the data elements developed for interoperability and expanding to nationally agreed upon functional standards and essential data elements. This work will provide the necessary building blocks for achieving the goal of a national network of immunization registries with functions and features such as enabling consistent immunization coverage reports and management of adverse events following an immunization.

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BKBeverley Knight

Beverly is the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Standards Manager with Canada Health Infoway’s Clinical Systems Interoperability program. As a former practicing clinician, Beverly has a passionate interest in working with stakeholders in the use of Standards based terminology within Canadian implementations.


ClaudiaBioClaudia Brown

Claudia provides technical support and expertise to the Canadian Immunization Registries and Coverage (CIRC) Network as part of her role with the Public Health Agency of Canada. She is the federal co-chair of the Immunization Registry Standards Task Group, which is overseeing the establishment of functional and data standards for a national network of immunization registries in Canada. She is also the federal co-chair of the Automated Identification of Vaccine Products Advisory Task Group. Claudia joined the Public Health Agency in January 2009, and in addition to supporting immunization related activities, she is passionate about working towards solutions for health inequalities in Canada. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Health Studies and a Master of Public Health, both from the University of Waterloo.



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