On March 24, Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister, Vu Duc Dam, officially launched the National Immunization Information System (NIIS) in Hanoi. This system evolved from ImmReg, a digital immunization registry, and VaxTrak, a vaccine tracking tool, both developed and tested by PATH beginning in 2012.
ImmReg allows health workers to use computers, smartphones, and tablets to enter and search for immunization records, and send short message service (SMS) reminders to those due for vaccination. It has shown to increase the on-time vaccination rates for essential vaccines for children, as well as reduce the time and costs associated with local routine immunization programs. VaxTrak tracks vaccine supply chain, thus decreasing the likelihood of stock-outs and reducing waste. Since 2016, PATH has supported the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Viettel, the largest telecom company in Vietnam, to integrate ImmReg and VaxTrak into a national system. They aim to track immunization records of the entire Vietnamese population, from birth to death, and make the vaccine supply chain more efficient.
The NIIS is an ambitious system that positions Vietnam as a global leader in digital health. Health centers throughout the world, in both developed and developing countries, have relied on paper-based records to record patient and vaccine information by hand. Paper-based records make it challenging to track which children are due for vaccination and can be prone to error. Inaccurate data leads to poor management of vaccine stocks, resulting in vaccines delivery delays. A paper-based system also makes it more difficult for health workers to develop reports for health officials to use in developing immunization plans and strategies.
Through initiatives such as ImmReg, VaxTrak, and the Better Immunization Data Initiative, PATH is helping countries adopt digital solutions that allow health workers to better record and access data, ultimately leading to better health service delivery.
“Before ImmReg, VaxTrak and the NIIS, Vietnam’s immunization programs had many challenges,” said Dr. Nguyen Tuyet Nga, Vietnam program director at PATH. “ImmReg and VaxTrak showed how comprehensive digital systems not only reduce the burden for community health workers, but also increase immunization coverage, especially for the on-time delivery of essential vaccinations for children under one year of age, and improve vaccine management.”
ImmReg was originally piloted as part of Project Optimize in a single district in Ben Tre Province, Vietnam. With support from the Mobile Health Alliance, PATH scaled up the model to the entire province. In early 2016, PATH was awarded the GSK-Save the Children Health Innovation award to support the Vietnam MOH for scale up of ImmReg nationwide. VaxTrak also began as part of Project Optimize, later being introduced nationwide by the Vietnam National Expanded Program on Immunization using government resources.
In collaboration with the MOH and Viettel, PATH has been integrating ImmReg and VaxTrac into the NIIS and training provincial health workers from all 63 provinces in Vietnam to use the system and to train others.
The launch of the NIIS showcases the successful scale-up of a digital health solution from the district, to provincial, and then national level, leveraging government-led efforts and private sector partnerships. The program continues to showcase PATH’s strong track record of developing user-centered, scalable digital health solutions, designed for sustainability by incorporating country partners as leaders and decision-makers from the beginning.
“We always involved the government as a partner, and worked with them step-by-step to make them comfortable with the new system and secure their support,” said Dr. Nguyen.
Starting in June 2017, NIIS will be rolled out to more than 17,000 immunization stations and 12,000 health clinics in Vietnam.
PATH is the leader in global health innovation. An international nonprofit organization, PATH saves lives and improves health, especially among women and children. PATH accelerates innovation across five platforms—vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, devices, and system and service innovations—that harness our entrepreneurial insight, scientific and public health expertise, and passion for health equity. By mobilizing partners around the world, PATH takes innovation to scale, working alongside countries primarily in Africa and Asia to tackle their greatest health needs. With these key partners, PATH delivers measurable results that disrupt the cycle of poor health. Learn more at www.path.org.
Posted April 12, 2017.