4 ways to better healthcare IT for COVID-19 vaccine rollout

The pandemic has tested IT infrastructure for healthcare providers and the federal government; in many instances it failed, according to the authors of a Harvard Business Review article

The article authors offered four actions to improve the U.S. healthcare data infrastructure as the COVID-19 vaccine is rolled out:

1. Embrace interoperability and standardize personal health data exchange. The U.S. doesn't have a single national identification system beyond Social Security numbers, which can lead to medical record duplication. The authors recommend applying existing identity verification and management systems to healthcare.

2. Connect state immunization registries and reporting analytics to track COVID-19 vaccine administration. Right now, around 60 percent of adults are registered on the immunization information systems, according to the report, and not all states require pharmacies to participate. The authors recommend states operationalize cross-state data-sharing agreements.

3. Develop portable immunization passports across state borders. The passports would need to have strong verification mechanisms but require users to provide minimal identity information, the authors say. These passports would need to be interoperable across hotels, restaurants, airlines and workspaces.

4. Apply strong security to prevent hackers from stealing vaccine information. The system should also prevent identity theft by people seeking to receive the COVID-19 vaccination ahead of schedule.

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