US disease control eyes vaccine system makeover

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Ga., are looking to implement software from SAP AG for a vaccine and immunization system, to be used by approximately 44,000 provider offices across the United States.

Terry Boyd, acting CIO for the CDC/NCIRD, says the system from Germany-based SAP will be used by physician offices participating in the vaccine ordering program.

“The federal government will be using the system to track and monitor vaccines that have been supplied throughout the distribution chain,” says Boyd.

The CDC will be ordering federally funded vaccines, which in the U.S. accounts for just over 60 per cent, he adds.

As far as the specific software from SAP that the CDC will be using, Boyd says they’re anticipating using the Supplier Relationship Management system, and some of SAP’s financial applications. “But we’re still in the blueprinting phase, so that may change slightly,” he adds.

Boyd says the biggest challenges with this vaccination solution are not technical but business challenges.

“This includes process change and change management, along with customer coordination and acceptance of the solution,” he says.

“We looked at similar projects in Canada and Europe, but used the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) recommended model of contracting, based on functional requirements rather than specific software.”

He says that since the contract was awarded, the CDC has been researching other SAP projects to learn from similar implementations, including presentations by the Canadian government and other U.S. federal agencies at this year’s Sapphire conference in Atlanta.

“We are currently finalizing the contract with new requirements and hope to have this completed in the next few weeks,” says Boyd. “We will then revisit blueprinting and move forward with methods to roll out the solution as quickly as possible.”

Vaccination and immunization systems, specifically in the form of a national registry, have also been on the to-do list for the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), as revealed in a previous InterGovWorld interview with Arlene King, the agency’s director general.

“One of the major issues we’ve been working on for some time…is the use of a public health information system and ensuring there are appropriate public health information systems throughout the country,” said King.

“One of the priorities for public health information system development, under the auspices of Canada Health Infoway, has been to make sure we have a communicable disease system in place.”

King noted the components of that system are able to capture disease related information and surveillance information on people who are sick.

“The other key element is to ensure we’ve got immunization registries in place so that people and their health providers can easily access information on what vaccines people have received.”

King said an immunization registry would be of tremendous value in terms of record keeping.

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