9 Questions (and Answers) About HIMSS IIP-Certified EHRs

The timely delivery of immunizations is at the core of pediatric preventive medicine. To give it the attention it needs—and deserves—every component of immunization management has an important role to play. The HIMSS Immunization Integration Program (IIP) Certification is a step towards better electronic health records (EHRs) and improved patient safety. Here are the answers to some of the most commonly-asked questions about this certification. 

1. What is HIMSS IIP Certification?

It’s a certification developed by the Drummond Group and Chickasaw Health Consulting, LLC (CHC) under contract with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD). The purpose is to recognize vendors who use enhanced data exchange capabilities to ensure their patients have up-to-date protection against vaccine-preventable illnesses.

2. How do EHR software vendors get certified?

Since the HIMSS IIP certification is the gold standard in healthcare technology, it’s not an easy process to get it. Systems have to go through rigorous testing in a developmental environment using multiple different scenarios before being included in products. This testing process can take upwards of six months to complete.

3. How does it add value to pediatric EHRs?

Pediatric practices that use a HIMSS IIP-certified EHR system have more accurate, timely access to their patients’ immunization records. Sophisticated data exchange methods make it easier to track immunization and reduce risk to patients and their families. Practices need to be able to send very specific vaccine data in both directions to forecast what patients need. The HIMSS_IIP Testing Method goes beyond the 2015 ONC Certification and is, effectively, enhanced data exchange from the EHR software to the immunization registries. 

4. How does this benefit the patient?

Individual pediatric patients and their families also benefit from the HIMSS IIP certification in several ways, such as:

  • Practices have up-to-date immunization records, which avoids any delays that could push a patient into a catch-up schedule.
  • Providers can print out immunization reports suitable for children to present for school, camp, college, specialist appointments and record transfers.
  • The availability of the data enables practices to deny patients who are unvaccinated, which raises awareness and improves immunization rates.
  • Allowing the practice to schedule unvaccinated patients selectively to protect existing patients from exposure while they are too young to be fully immunized. 

5. What’s in it for the practice?

Doctors can use the data provided by a HIMSS IIP-certified EHR to make better clinical decisions for their patients while reducing the administrative work involved in reporting immunization-related performance. The practice also benefits from more detailed vaccine data such as lot numbers, expiry dates, and codes that allow it to forecast what inventory will be needed in the near term. These robust records also help to increase immunization rates in communities, improve patient safety through more detailed intelligence, and make historical data transfers easier.

6. Why is it important to use a pediatric-specific EHR?

A pediatric-specific EHR is focused on providing a good pediatric experience, which differs from other patient experiences in several ways, such as:

  • good vaccine inventory management
  • patient communications customized for pediatric needs—like the 30-month well-visit recall
  • templates that provide at-a-glance guidance for pediatric examination purposes
  • preloaded charting options that enable the doctor to record the visit in seconds, which boosts practice productivity

When all this is accompanied by recognized immunization management capabilities, you have a really strong pediatric-specific administrative system.

7. How do I find a HIMSS IIP-certified pediatric EHR vendor?

IIP Vendors are the industry-leading organizations on immunization-capable products developed for production and use. There are currently only six recognized IIP-certified vendors in the U.S., and only one is pediatric-specific. And while there aren’t actual penalties associated with using non-certified vendors, chances are good your practice will lose customer base as well as governmental incentives available to practices using approved products.

8. What does the future look like for EHRs that are not HIMSS-certified?

HIMSS has proposed requirements to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) for the 2019 Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA). If these are accepted, the minimum standard requirements will match those of the IIP data exchange criteria.

This could mean pediatric practices using EHRs that are not HIMSS IIP-certified may/may not be inconvenienced by having to contract with a new provider in order to be compliant. Companies that are certified are working with state immunization registries to make sure they can all accept the enhanced message transmissions so this option can be rolled out in all areas.

9. What happens now?

Certification through the HIMSS Immunization Integration Program supports pediatric EHR vendors’ commitment to having the most robust immunization functionality available. This allows practices to be confident they have the most up-to-date and comprehensive technology to ensure their patients and communities are protected from vaccine-preventable illnesses.


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