Immunization information systems
Better data improve program management
In the fast-moving consumer goods industry, it is best practice to make planning and distribution decisions based on point-of-sale data—as this level of data gives managers accurate, real-time information about changes in demand, enabling them to react quickly and not be misled by fluctuations in inventory buildup by retailers. The same principle can be applied to vaccine supply systems. Without point-of-service data at the health care center level, managers have no visibility into demand or inventory levels and cannot react to supply problems or gaps.
In collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) through project Optimize, PATH worked with countries to develop digital, point-of-service stock management and immunization registry systems to overcome systemic problems related to information transparency. As part of this effort, the following two pilot systems were deployed in Albania and South Sudan alongside two distinctive pilot systems in Vietnam:
Information system impact in Albania. Starting in 2011, the Albanian Ministry of Health worked with PATH and WHO to develop a registry-based computerized immunization information system (IIS) that was then piloted in the Shkoder district. The system has greatly simplified immunization reporting and monthly planning, which had previously required nurses to record each vaccination in up to six forms and registers. It has also made records more accurate, timely, and transparent. This gave health care workers and managers a clearer picture of which children were not being immunized and why, enabling them to take steps to reach them with the information and services they needed.
Because the IIS manages the stock of vaccines and consumables, it also allows the Albanian Institute for Public Health to monitor the expiry date, distribution, and usage of ever more expensive vaccines. By linking the vaccine lots to individual child records, lots can be traced through the stores and eventually to any children who have received a dose from a particular lot. The system is being scaled up in Albania and has been presented to other interested countries in the region for adaptation and replication. For more information and to see IIS, please view our slideshow on Flickr.
Logistimo stock management system in South Sudan. In partnership with the South Sudan and the United Nations Children’s Fund, PATH and WHO piloted a cloud-based logistics management information system (LMIS) that enables the use of mobile phones to manage vaccine stock. The new system, created by the India-based company Logistimo, was deployed in May 2012 and is now being used in the central store, the ten state stores, and all six counties of Central Equatoria State. The Logistimo demonstration project in South Sudan evaluated the benefits of more reliable and up-to-date information on stock levels and consumption rates, as well as the feasibility of implementing a mobile phone-based LMIS in a country with little digital infrastructure. As part of the demonstration, county stock managers are provided with inexpensive mobile phones that they use to register stock transactions and submit orders for additional stock. National or state managers can then use this information to track stock and demand in real time and analyze consumption patterns. To see the Logistimo system, please view our slideshow on Flickr.
Novel immunization registries in Vietnam. In 2011, Vietnam’s National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology began working with PATH and WHO to demonstrate the benefits of using computer and mobile phone technology to record immunization registry data, track individual children due for immunization, and record vaccinations. A demonstration pilot of a system known as the Vietnam Immunization Registry was carried out in the Mo Cay Nam district (Ben Tre Province) and provided much insight into how such an information system might benefit immunization and broader health systems going forward. As of 2013, Vietnam is working to adopt the novel system in the eight additional districts in Ben Tre Province.
Vaccine track and trace software in Vietnam. In collaboration with WHO, PATH began working with Vietnam’s National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NEPI) in 2011 to create a software program that allows users at various levels of the health system to track vaccine stock and report monthly immunization activity. The team piloted VaxTrak in three provinces (Phu Tho, Quang Tri, and Ben Tre) as well as at the national level. After the first three months of implementation, NEPI extended the pilot to all districts of one project province and expanded the number of participating provinces to 13. Now that Optimize work has ended in Vietnam, NEPI is looking for funding to scale up the software nationwide.
Information and communication technologies toolkit
Based on extensive research and demonstration projects in Albania, South Sudan, Tunisia, and Vietnam, PATH and WHO through project Optimize have consolidated their key learnings on IIS into a toolkit for organizations interested in embarking on digital systems.
- A Case for Better Immunization Information Systems [evidence brief]
- Albania Pilots an Immunization Information System [overview document]
- Before and After: How an Online Immunization Registry has Benefitted Health Workers in Albania [photo book]
- Common Requirements for Logistics Management Information Systems [technical report]
- Keeping Track of Vietnam’s Vaccines [evidence brief]
- Health Management Information Systems [site]
- Project Optimize Country Reports [series]