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HIMSS offers recommendations on the role of digital health in vaccine distribution

HIMSS and its community of digital health professionals have offered recommendations focused on two areas: immediate actions and longer-term plans on how to maximise the role of digital health in vaccine distribution and administration.

The digital health experts behind the COVID-19 policy recommendations include those working in public health, primary and secondary healthcare delivery, health information exchange, health IT software development and governmental agencies.

The recommendations build on the HIMSS COVID-19 Global Policy Call to Action, which calls on government, businesses, civil society leaders and elected officials to recognise the value of health information and technology during a health emergency.

WHY IT MATTERS

The policy states that maximising health information and technology to develop strategies, and the value provided by these professionals in tackling COVID-19, is critical to building the post-pandemic recovery, and in particular, accelerating vaccine distribution and administration.

Building on actions for improving global healthcare, HIMSS aims to reinforce the importance of these steps and pledge their support to work with every nation, along with multinational organisations, such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The recommendations for immediate actions include:

  • Capitalise on health information and technology and data systems to support robust, globally coordinated, comprehensive COVID-19 vaccination plans.
  • Exercise regulatory flexibilities and enforcement discretion to ease burden.
  • Adopt an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to vaccine distribution and administration.
  • Emphasise the importance of interoperability and data sharing in the broader vaccination effort.

The longer-term plans include:

  • Generate digital vaccination credentials for individuals.
  • Establish a formal feedback loop for COVID-19 related tools and technologies.
  • Develop a national patient identification strategy.

“The COVID vaccine rollout is now a focus for all jurisdictions globally as it offers a major part of a solution out of lockdown. However paradoxically, the potential to deploy digital solutions to certification, the process of vaccination, supply chain and a whole host of other parts to this initiative have been, with some exceptions ignored and bypassed.”  

 – Dr Charles Alessi, chief clinical officer at HIMSS

THE LARGER CONTEXT

EU leaders have called for a ‘Digital Green Certificate’ to be ready by summer, however, the European Council says the vaccine passports should not be a precondition to exercise free movement rights.

Meanwhile, the WHO has warned about fake COVID-19 vaccines, amongst the rise of forged vaccination certificates and fake negative tests available for purchase on the black market.

Dr Joyoti Goswami, principal consultant at Damo Consulting recently wrote a blog for Healthcare IT News, outlining ways to optimise health IT systems for immunisation drives.

ON THE RECORD

Dr Petra Wilson, managing director at Health Connect Partners and senior advisor for healthcare, FTI Consulting, said: “HIMSS recommendations for maximising the role of digital health in vaccine distribution are an excellent starting point to rising to the immediate challenges that COVID-19 has brought, but also provide the foundations for harnessing the power of digital to bring safe, accessible and person centred care to people in every part of every country. Let us not lose the added momentum that digital health has garnered from the pandemic, let’s keep going!”

Find out more about vaccine management at the ‘From Pandemic to Infodemic, the Role of Effective Digital Public Health’ session due to take place at the HIMSS21 & Health 2.0 European Health Conference on 7 June, 2021. 

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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