North Dakota pharmacies are an important immunization provider, administering routine, seasonal, and pandemic immunizations to residents across the state. A large number of the pharmacies in North Dakota are interoperable with the North Dakota Immunization Information System (NDIIS) but have a submission only interface. This means they are only submitting administered immunizations to the NDIIS but are not leveraging the NDIIS to proactively determine which patients are due for immunizations and which immunizations they are due for. A paper recently published in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice identified pharmacies as the provider group responsible for administering the highest volume of unnecessary immunizations to adults in North Dakota. Pharmacies need a way to efficiently query the NDIIS for immunization histories for all of their patients to improve immunization administration and ensure patients are getting the right vaccines at the right time.
Lessons Learned and Key Factors for Success
Providing patient immunization histories to North Dakota pharmacies in a way that does not require additional pharmacy staff time to query individual patient records improves pharmacy vaccine administration. This work has also provided a proof of concept for the NDHHS Immunization Unit to establish a more automated bulk query process in North Dakota that can be leveraged by other pharmacies. The NDIIS development team worked with the North Dakota Pharmacy Association to set up a bulk query API between the Association and the NDIIS. The bulk query API allows pharmacies that are members of the Pharmacy Association to submit a patient file to the Association’s electronic system. This system will then use the API connection to send bulk HL7 immunization query messages to the NDIIS and get patient immunization history and forecast information back that is then forwarded back to the pharmacy. This project was just completed in late September and is being rolled out by the Association to select pharmacy locations in mid-October.