The Future of Immunization Registries: A conversation with Mike Popovich

By Dale Dauten, Syndicated Columnist


“The present is pregnant with the future.”



We sat down with Mike Popovich, a man who you will often see wearing an “Ideas Start Here” button, to talk about the future of state Immunization Information Registries.

Ideas Start Here Button

It didn’t take Mike long to challenge the status quo, starting with this prediction…

“States will get out of the IIS building and support business.”

Instead, Mike argues, such systems will be outsourced to private companies and then states will use the data via subscription models. “Justifiably, it fell to government agencies to build the systems, but now private companies will take the existing health data assets and take them to the next level of usefulness.”

(Mike’s prediction fits with the broader trend in outsourcing and public/private partnership. I recently came across this sentence:

‘We’re going to get out of ISS as quickly as we can.”

That looks like a typo on IIS, but no, in this case the acronym stands for the International Space Station and the quote was from the head of NASA’s human spaceflight program, William Gerstenmaier.)

One motivation for moving to partnerships with private companies is to have the resources to make this next prediction happen…

“We are in the midst of the transition from Immunization Information Systems to Immunization Intelligence Services.

“Companies like STC will work across the immunization ecosystem to collect, augment and enhance the data in registries to empower consumers, and further the missions of health professionals, including vaccine researchers.”

What will these new Intelligence Services look like? Mike’s vision:

Mike Popovich

“No need for keyboards for information retrieval. All interactions will be voice activated. And no more static displays of information. Instead, you will be using an Immunization Artificially Intelligence Engine (iAIE) that learns how you as an individual work, and how and when key intelligence should be delivered to you.

“Maybe you’re a consumer… You want to know which pharmacy on your route to work can be ready to give you your flu shot in the 10 minutes it takes you to get there. The system gives you the best option and you simply say “Yes” on your car bluetooth.

“Or an ER nurse… the second you begin to triage a patient you are alerted to non-current immunizations, even before you ask.

“Or a pharmacist… knowledge of a patient’s genomics will suggest which vaccine or prescription works better.

“Subscribers will create a few rules/settings and the iAIE will go from there, even offering new suggestions as disease outbreaks occur, risk factors change and new vaccines become available for significant diseases like cancer.”

The Future to Get Back To

So how fast will all this happen? That caused Mike to pause, before saying…

“The data we have now in immunization registries is underutilized. The evolution of registries is not limited by technology as much as by the resources to put the technology to work.” Mike added:

Over a decade ago, when voice recognition first became available for desktop computers, STC integrated this into our registry. The nurse or doctor could simply say the patient’s name and the record would be automatically retrieved and displayed on the screen. They could say the immunization they gave and it would be entered and saved. No hands on the keyboard. Voice recognition technology is light years beyond these early systems but has yet to be deployed in any state registry.

“In addition, over 20 years ago STC geocoded addresses to overlay immunization coverage rates geographically. This allowed public health to know the highest risk areas in their area. Two decades later, and the use of GIS is now only being encouraged by some in the registry community.

“Finally, in the early 1990s, CDC conceived of childhood immunization tracking systems that would let any provider in the country know the immunization rates of any child they saw in their practice. This vision is still not achieved.”


“New technology will create advances in the underlying platforms, analytics and availability of more complete data. These systems and their growth will be constrained by policies and practices that amount to an aversion to risk.

“It is a game you know. Us versus disease. Disease will likely win but we if we are empowered with the right information and have the right vaccine, we just might fight this war a little longer. The IIS of the future, the Immunization Intelligence Services, can be a key element in the fight.

“We need a few tough fighters. We need just a handful of heroes working in state registries to grab hold of the future and pull us forward.”

IDEAS START HERE: Images from Focus 21, located in the “Silicon Valley of the North” at Waterloo, Canada, partnering with with STC to create the future of Immunization Intelligence™