7 Tips to Improve Your Student Immunization Tracking Process
Your immunization tracking process helps you prepare healthcare students for participation in clinical rotation and residency programs. However, with all the various requirements of the different programs, it can be challenging to efficiently collect, verify, and send student health data to clinical affiliates. In addition, your tracking process also needs to maintain compliance with data protection rules set by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Lastly, new standards for health and safety brought by COVID-19 make it even more critical to run an effective student immunization tracking program
Given the range of requirements for collecting and sharing student health information, it’s essential to have the necessary process and technology to support overall program compliance. With the aid of an integrated student health management solution, you can improve your tracking process and efficiently manage student data with ease.
The Importance of a Compliant and Efficient Immunization Tracker
An immunization tracking process designed for efficiency and compliance helps you avoid delays and keep your student programs running smoothly. Regardless of the number of students participating in clinical training and education programs, a well-designed process helps each student submit required documentation, so you deliver accurate student data to your clinical affiliates on time.
When your immunization tracking program possesses the elements you need for efficiency—clear timelines, organized data collection and delivery, and available support for students—you realize a range of benefits. The benefits include:
- Fewer delays: Automated reminders and resources help you collect and verify student-submitted health information, so students can meet deadlines and get the clearance to participate in clinical training programs.
- Better compliance: An immunization tracker with built-in data security features allows you to meet HIPAA and FERPA obligations, keeping your program in good standing with clinical affiliates and audit requirements.
- Less legal and financial risk: An effective immunization tracking process preserves your reputation and bottom line by helping you avoid lawsuits and fines for non-compliance.
How to Improve Your Student Immunization Tracking Process
The immunization tracking process is complex and time-intensive, and it requires the cooperation of students with your school and clinical affiliates. Despite the challenges of collecting and verifying large amounts of student health data, you can take specific steps to improve your process and keep it moving at a healthy and efficient pace.
Take the following actions to realize the benefits of an efficient and compliant immunization management program:
1. Establish a reasonable timeline.
Throughout the school year, students have many demands on their time and lots of requests for information. To increase the chances of high student response to requests for immunization data, give students a generous amount of time (ideally, 60-90 days) to gather and submit required documents. A clear and well-communicated timeline reduces the chances of students or your program running out of time to collect information. It also gives you time to organize data and follow up on any discrepancies or missing information.
2. Communicate requirements clearly.
Not every hospital or health system admitting students from your school has the same immunization requirements, so it’s important to be clear about what each location requires. You’ll also need to understand where there are any allowable substitutes or approved exemptions. The process will run smoothly when you make sure students understand requirements, acceptable documentation formats, and what they must do if they are missing a required immunization.
You will also need to give students a detailed list of all the information they need to provide. In many cases, you may need more than immunization histories. You may also require the following documents:
- Confidentiality agreement
- Immunization waiver
- Health history form
- Driver’s license or other proof of identity, such as a valid photo ID
- Authorization form for clinical site background screening
- COVID-19 antibody or viral test results, a growing requirement among some universities
3. Establish safe and secure reporting.
HIPAA and FERPA rules require secure methods for handling and exchanging student health information. As a result, you’ll need to replace unsecured email and fax with a platform designed to help you collect and store sensitive information, and see results without breaching student privacy. Safe and secure reporting is necessary for a compliant program, so you will benefit from working with a compliance partner who understands meaningful use standards for electronic health records in educational settings.
4. Automate manual processes.
Your immunization management process risks inefficiency and inaccuracy when it is dependent upon manual workflows and paper tracking. To improve data accuracy and use your time more efficiently, automate your immunization tracking process and reduce your reliance on paper. An automated immunization tracking process can help you:
- Simplify repeatable steps, such as information requests and status notifications
- Reduce the need to re-enter the same student information in multiple places
- Send reminders based on a pre-set schedule
- Set rules for flagging issues requiring follow-up, for example, students who miss specific requirements and need to go for retesting or boosters
5. Use automation technology.
Technology gives program staff and students the ability to share private health information, with less opportunity for important details to slip through the cracks. It also connects you to resources and compliance partners who can help you interpret and verify incoming health information. A secure cloud-based application provides the following features and capabilities:
- 24/7 access from any location
- One centralized place for communication and recordkeeping
- Easy navigation with a modern design
- The ability to track requirements for a range of clinical sites
- Scalable tools to help you adapt to evolving health and safety requirements
- Dashboard reporting to help you stay on top of student compliance metrics
6. Involve healthcare professionals.
Your immunization tracking process will run smoother with the support of healthcare professionals who understand the medical requirements for testing and vaccination. Your immunization compliance provider can provide you with access to HIPAA-trained specialists and medical professionals. They are qualified to read health reports and ask the right follow-up questions where needed. Instead of accepting student-provided health information at face value, you get the benefit of trained professionals who can verify immunization data, saving you the frustration of finding out a student has not met the requirements of their clinical rotation or residency program.
7. Integrate with applicable systems.
When you're dealing with large amounts of student health data from many sources, you can benefit from integrations to speed the flow of information and limit repetitive data entry. Your immunization tracking solution can provide integrations with the following systems and services:
- Affiliated clinical rotation systems: Share student information directly with clinical sites.
- State immunization registries: Get immediate access to student health information held by individual states.
- Background screening programs: Connect students with other services as required by clinical sites, for example, drug testing and fingerprinting.
Enhance the Quality of Your Immunization Tracking Program
Immunization tracking requires an optimal balance of efficiency and compliance. It also requires flexibility to help you keep pace with changing health and safety requirements for university and clinical settings. As you focus on the many ways you can improve your immunization tracking process, be sure to select an integrated compliance management solution with the support and technology to meet your needs. Download our Guide to Immunization Compliance Management to learn more.