The Consequences of a Poor Immunization Tracking Process
Your student immunization tracking process should help students meet the requirements for participation in clinical rotational programs. However, if your process doesn’t have the mechanisms to help you verify student health and immunization data and deliver it to your clinical site partners on time, everyone involved will feel the impact.
Six Consequences of Poor Immunization Tracking
Having a solid immunization tracking process in place can mean the difference between submitting accurate student health and immunization records to clinical sites and dealing with a variety of delays and inconsistencies. In fact, not having the right process and systems for effectively collecting, verifying, and communicating student health and immunization data can have a range of negative implications for students, your clinical site partners, and your university health professions program.
Delays in Student Participation
Participating in clinical rotations is a significant milestone for students pursuing health science careers, because it represents one of the first opportunities to get hands-on healthcare training and experience. But having a smooth path to clinical rotations isn’t always a given. In fact, in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, many students had to switch to virtual clinical training or had their program canceled altogether.
To make sure your current students don’t miss out on their chance to start their clinical training without administrative hang-ups, it’s essential to help them meet applicable clinical site requirements. If student health and immunization information is not submitted on time or is incomplete, students can be denied on-time participation in their clinical rotation or residency program. They can also risk losing scholarship funding or other financial assistance.
Public Health and Safety Concerns
For the sake of patient and student safety, particularly during COVID-19, students need to complete all required testing and contact tracing in line with clinical site requirements. Students who begin clinical rotations without the required immunizations can possibly expose others to contagious illness. In cases of a serious or life-threatening spread, there is also the possibility of lawsuits and reputational risk for the clinical site.
If your immunization tracking process doesn’t have built-in mechanisms for protecting confidential information, you may be violating Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements to keep the information secure. Failing to safeguard private health information can result in costly HIPAA fines, which can be as high as $50,000 for each violation.
Poor Relations with Clinical Affiliates
Not meeting clinical site requirements can negatively impact your partnership agreements with those sites. It can also affect the credentialing of specific clinical programs. Any number of errors, such as sending inaccurate student health data or failing to meet clinical site deadlines, can put those partnerships in jeopardy.
Your immunization tracking program relies on committed and trained staff to collect and review student health information, but they can make mistakes if they’re dealing with manual workflows or a process lacking in efficiency and compliance controls. In some cases, human error can impact staff directly. For example, data security breaches involving student private health information could result in disciplinary action against health center employees or program administrators.
Unfavorable Audit Findings
Effective immunization tracking relies on accuracy. Though you need a process for collecting student health and immunization data, you also need to have a reliable way to verify the accuracy and completeness of the information students submit. Sending unverified or erroneous student health and immunization data to clinical site partners can impact their program operations and result in negative feedback during internal audits.
How to Safeguard Against Poor Immunization Tracking and Compliance
Immunization tracking for students participating in clinical rotations has always been critical to patient and student safety. With new immunizations becoming available—for example, the COVID-19 vaccine—it will be even more important to collect up-to-date student immunization information and verify it for accuracy. Here are the key steps you should take to keep your immunization tracking program in top shape.
Automate the Process with Immunization Tracking Technology
Immunization compliance technology can replace paper-based and manual processes, allowing you to communicate with students and clinical partners with greater ease. Using a secure, cloud-based application, you can obtain health data from students in any location and verify it for accuracy before sharing with clinical sites.
A complete end-to-end solution provides:
- One centralized place for communication and record-keeping
- A scalable solution that adapts to your evolving immunization tracking needs
- A mobile-friendly interface
- The ability to track requirements for all clinical sites where your students will go on rotation
- A fully cloud-based solution offering 24/7 access for students who are on campus or remote
- Integration with clinical rotation systems and state immunization registries
- Integration with student background check and drug screening services
Communicate Requirements to Students Clearly
Not every hospital or health system admitting students has the same immunization requirements, so it’s important to make it easy to understand which documents you require, any applicable exemptions or waivers, and what students need to do to submit missing information.
It’s also critical to make sure your process is set up to track the right forms at the outset. In addition to variations between clinical sites, the required documents may change over time. As a result, your immunization tracking system should allow you to collect a range of documents beyond immunization forms, including the following:
- Confidentiality agreements
- Health history forms
- Driver’s licenses and other proof of identity
Establish HIPAA-Compliant Messaging and Reporting
HIPAA rules require secure methods not just for sending student health information, but also for reporting on it. Instead of using unsecured email to share student health information, you need a system that adheres to HIPAA requirements and allows secure data storage and encrypted messaging with students. Keeping your program activities in compliance with HIPAA not only protects student health information, but it also protects your program from incurring costly non-compliance penalties.
Involve Healthcare Professionals
Your immunization tracking process will run much smoother with the added support of healthcare professionals. They understand medical requirements and testing, and have been trained in adhering to HIPAA requirements for handling and communicating student health information. Medical professionals also possess the qualifications to read medical reports and ask students the appropriate follow-up questions about their health history where needed.
Work with a Trusted Immunization Compliance Management Partner
Given the compliance risks and opportunities to improve your program’s efficiency, it makes sense to work with a provider who possesses student immunization tracking expertise. By working with the right provider, you can get support to manage your entire immunization program and take advantage of the following services and capabilities:
- Automation technology
- Support for implementing compliant workflows
- Guidance from qualified healthcare professionals trained to interpret medical records and testing results
- Periodic reviews of your program and recommendations for improvements
- Additional services to help you address additional student screening or compliance needs, such as background checks and drug testing
A poor immunization tracking process can lead to all sorts of delays and inaccuracies, causing stress and other complications for students who should have a smooth transition into their clinical rotation program. However, by following these steps for building an efficient and compliant tracking program, you can deliver better outcomes for your students and maintain fruitful relationships with your clinical site partners.
For more tips to help you improve your immunization tracking capabilities, read our e-book Improving Immunization Compliance: A Guide for Your Clinical Programs.