From 1-3 Feb 2011, 20 countries of the Americas came together in Bogotá, Colombia to discuss issues related to the development and implementation of national computerized nominal immunization registries in the Region. The goal of the workshop was to share experiences and lessons learned among those countries using computerized nominal immunization registries, those advanced in their development and implementation, and those now starting to develop national registries.
Participants in the workshop included immunization and information systems (IT) representatives from 20 countries as well as representatives from partner agencies such as UNICEF, PATH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Sustainable Sciences Institute (SSI), the latter also representing the Latin American Open Source Health Informatics group (IMeCA). The Gates Foundation was unable to attend.
For the workshop, national computerized nominal immunization registries were defined as computerized population-based and confidential information systems/ databases that include data on vaccine doses administered nationwide. Two characteristics of these registries were highlighted as highly desirable: 1) the system should provide reports and other outputs to facilitate monitoring vaccination coverage by vaccine, dose, geographical area, age (or other target group) and provider, and 2) the system provide outputs to facilitate the individualized and timely follow-up of vaccination schedules and the identification of defaulters.
Following plenary sessions, participants were assigned to seven working groups to highlight problems, identify potential issues and considerations, and propose solutions in diverse countries and situations. The topics were: 1) considerations before proposing the development of a nominal immunization registry; 2) data flow and entry of data in a computerized system; 3) Inclusion of all children in the registry in different scenarios to ensure a comprehensive population-based registry; 4) Implementation of nominal registries; 5) outputs, reports and maps for immunization program managers at different levels; 6) considerations for the selection of the informatics tools and standards, updates and maintenance, and type of development; and 7) potential use of mobile technologies.
Participants agreed that 1) clear objectives and scope for a computerized immunization registry must be defined, 2) a collaborative and transparent decision making process is essential, 3) agreeing on technical and functional standards beforehand is highly important, and 4) once implemented in the field, training and supportive supervision of staff and data managers must be ongoing to ensure that accurate and reliable information is routinely captured in the system.
The openness of the participants to share experiences, products, successes and failures was commendable. A community of practice i.e., an Internet-based site for the participants of the meeting and other stakeholders to share documents, experiences, and exchange ideas and information is being set up. Also, based on the group presentations at the workshop, a report is being developed which will summarize lessons learned, best practices, and problems and proposed solutions for issues related to the development and implementation of national computerized nominal immunization registries in the Region.