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Story from the Field

Name of Health Department/Agency: Boston Public Health Commission
State: MA
Date Added: 01/26/2010
Themes: Vaccine Planning and Administration
Issue Summary: Utilizing electronic records management and GIS resources to best manage H1N1 vaccine distribution.
Description of Issue(s):

The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) has used an innovative records management system to collect and examine data produced during its mass vaccination campaign. The system allows a level of analysis regarding vaccine distribution that exists nowhere else in Massachusetts.

Actions taken to address the issue(s): The BPHC's Records Management System also allows for public health officials to meet the mandated reporting required by state and federal health agencies. The system, adapted from technology originally developed for large-scale disasters and tested under the auspices of Boston Emergency Medical Services, assigns each person vaccinated a unique identifier, and allows for the collection of limited patient medication and demographic information.

Bar-code scanning devices capture the required information for every vaccination and avoid time consuming paper-based collection. The system also allows for the electronic management of vaccine by formulation, a critically important function given that H1N1 vaccine was produced by multiple companies and in multiple formulations. By having all public clinic records available in electronic format, planners were able to rapidly produce reports, providing a better understanding of whom the Commission was serving and whether they were reaching targeted neighborhoods (those hardest hit in the first wave of illness). In addition, the patient address information has allowed for incorporation of Geographical Information System (GIS) mapping.

Maps of the city indicating vaccine receipt by census block have been utilized by BPHC planners to monitor coverage in Boston's neighborhoods--an important feature given that outbreak intensity has varied by neighborhood.

Outcomes that resulted from actions taken: The system has automated a significant portion of the data collection work required by state and federal health agencies, and has made the ability to respond to adverse vaccine events more efficient.

Boston now has a consistent, near real-time, records management system that can be used during a public health response. All aspects of the health care structure in Boston are now familiar with the system.

Please see attached sample GIS map in NACCHO's H1N1 toolkit at: http://www.naccho.org/toolbox/tool.cfm?id=1922.

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