A turning point in digitalizing immunization management systems

Since the nationwide launch of a digital immunization management system in Vietnam, preliminary positive outcomes have already been attained. By supplying this digital application for basic health care services, health workers are now able to optimize their time, and mothers and children can now get access to essential vaccines more easily.

 Since the nationwide launch of a digital immunization management system in Vietnam, preliminary positive outcomes have already been attained. By supplying this digital application for basic health care services, health workers are now able to optimize their time, and mothers and children can now get access to essential vaccines more easily. 

The software allows health workers to easily control immunization schedules and the vaccine supply-and-demand status of each region. Critically, it ensures that children, regardless of where they were born, are vaccinated on time. In response to the activation of the National Immunization Information System, PATH, utilizing a budget from GSK and Save the Children’s Healthcare Innovation Award and working in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Viettel, supported initiating the software at over 90% of the health facilities in the country, including commune health centers, fee-based immunization clinics, and labor rooms at every satellite hospital in Vietnam. 

Initial accomplishments 

Quang Ninh Province is one of the first provinces to implement this immunization management software, through which every child will be assigned a unique code designed for tracking their vaccination histories and identifying the date of their next vaccination. Over the past year, the province has already successfully enrolled more than 30,000 children into its software system1

 Dr. Ninh Van Chu, Director of the Provincial Preventive Medicine Center in Quang Ninh, said, "This software system helps manage all clients’ immunizations, regardless of their current location or place of birth. Therefore, the vaccination rate certainly will rise and children will be vaccinated on time in order to protect them against vaccine-preventable diseases. In addition, the system also minimizes excessive paperwork, such as creating vaccination lists, planning out activities for a vaccination section, forecasting vaccines, and generalizing vaccination reports. Moreover, it is a cost-saving and integrating health management system for everyone." 

Quang Ninh faced several obstacles when first launching the software. Initially, the province’s dated computer system and unstable internet connection posed setbacks, as well as some older health workers whose computer skills were limited. However, these obstacles were overcome, and the end-results were praiseworthy.

 According to data, 186 communes, 42 fee-based immunization services, and 7 local hospitals in Quang Ninh were trained and are now using the software. Seven months after launch, commendable results were achieved, including an 8% increase of the rate of hepatitis B birth dose vaccination compared to the same time period in 2016.

 Success in Quang Ninh was chiefly derived from the health leaders' effort, determination, cooperation, and willingness to share technical knowledge with health staff at all levels, even those in remote areas. This cooperation came from a shared belief that the software would be very useful for immunization management in this province.

 Improving and incrementally finalizing the system

 In 2016, PATH was awarded the Healthcare Innovation Award by GSK and Save the Children in association with its Immreg program—a digital immunization registry system originally piloted in Ben Tre Province. The award is meant to honor innovative ideas which successfully reduce the childhood mortality rate in developing countries. It helped PATH to assist the Ministry of Health and Viettel to integrate this digital system into the National Immunization Information System, thereby expanding its impact nationwide.

 Ms. Mona Byrkit, PATH’s Mekong Regional Program Director, and James Strenner, Head Representative of GSK in Vietnam, commented, “In Vietnam, digitalizing the immunization management system is of great significance for the future. PATH and GSK are proud to have collaborated with the Ministry of Health and Viettel on the rollout of this software within such a short period of time. We believe it will lend a helping hand to developing a simple, yet highly accurate, health care management model that is economizing, saves time, and efficiently tracks vaccinations for children. This should be considered a turning point for Vietnam, and a stepping stone for advancing the digitalization of all health care management systems for its people in the future."

 

[1] http://www.qtv.vn/channel/5982/201703/quang-ninh-mot-trong-nhung-tinh-dau-tien-trien-khai-phan-mem-quan-ly-tiem-chung-2545218/