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March 31, 2016

Launching a new immunization information system in Oklahoma

What are IISs?


Immunization information systems (IIS) are critical for protecting people against vaccine-preventable diseases. These systems can consolidate vaccination records from multiple providers, forecast vaccines due or overdue, manage vaccine inventory and send reminders to patients. Diverse groups of people use IISs, including those in public health agencies, health care providers, hospitals, pharmacies and schools.

Developing and launching such a complex system requires a tremendous amount of effort. In the last year, with support from the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, PHII collaborated with the state of Oklahoma to support the development and roll out of their new IIS, and we saw firsthand the remarkable amount of preparation that is essential to launching a new IIS.

“...we saw firsthand the remarkable amount of preparation that is essential to launching a new IIS.”

Taking steps to develop Oklahoma's IIS


The Oklahoma team had already created requirements and had opted to develop a new SQL-based system that can be configured to meet both current and emerging state and federal requirements and their state’s service orientated architecture. This is particularly important with respect to achieving interoperability with electronic health records.

PHII helped with the final stages of development, about a year and a half prior to the launch. We brought in consultants Therese Hoyle and Nathan Bunker to assess both program strengths and the system in development, and to make recommendations for moving forward. We provided advice on agile development methods, the staffing they would need, and future training and communications needs, among other topics. Based on this report, CDC requested that PHII provide support with updated requirements-gathering, testing, communication, documentation and training.

Consultants add expertise


PHII contracted with longtime IIS consultants Therese Hoyle and HLN Consulting to provide the expertise needed for this work. The PHII team and the Oklahoma team spent months testing the system, developing a comprehensive set of test scripts that reflected all of the use cases. The testing stage is important to identifying ways the system can be more user-friendly, and to ensure that the data generated from it is accurate. This stage often has much continual feedback between the users and the IT team. HLN helped lead discussions between the immunization program staff and the technology staff.

Simple procedures like this can be stored in IISs to help keep patients' records organized and up to date. Photo credit: CDC Public Health Image Library 

HLN also played a significant role in creating communications for the launch, both the talking points for various stakeholders and the documentation manuals. Both PHII and the Oklahoma management team wanted to ensure that all stakeholders understood the need for a new system, and why it was being launched. HLN also worked with Oklahoma to organize, prepare and facilitate live onsite trainings, as well as webinars and other online training. 

From collaboration to execution


The hard work and efforts have paid off, with the Oklahoma State Immunization Information System (OSIIS) launching in February this year. There are many steps in designing, testing and deploying a complex information system like an IIS. As impressive as the technology ends up being, it’s really the coming together and collaboration of many people and their diverse skills that make it all happen. We felt fortunate to work side-by-side with Oklahoma, CDC, HLN, Therese and others to launch such an important system, one that collects and maintains accurate, complete and current vaccinations for the people of Oklahoma.