More Nursing, Less Paperwork
New System Connects Schools to State Immunization Registries,
Easing Compliance for Nurses & Parents
By Dale Dauten, Syndicated Columnist
Two things everybody hates: paperwork and standing in line. And the reason you’re standing in line is usually that someone at the head of the line is doing paperwork. And even when you take the paper away and put the forms on a computer, you’re still stuck doing work that is, via some dark magic, still paperwork. Unless… unless…
UNLESS you have a system that is smarter than paper, one that fills in the blanks for you. That’s the genius of “1-Click” and why Amazon is taking over the retail world. And today we get to learn about another system that’s smarter than paper, one that’s turning vaccine registry data into more time for school nurses to spend doing actual nursing.
School nurses are the TSA of disease prevention and they are good at their jobs.
Our STC Medical Advisor, Dr. Scott Hamstra, recently pointed out that the vaccinating of children is an overwhelming success, with fewer than 1% of American kids having gotten no vaccines at all. A major contributor to that success are all the school requirements for immunizations, and it falls to school nurses to enforce those requirements, a time-consuming and thankless burden. Now, however, the folks at PSNI (Professional Software for Nurses, Inc.) are taking away the tedium and generating thank-yous for their 10,000 SNAP (School Nurse Assistant Program) Health Center software users.
We recently spoke with Terrie Hamlin and Tami Lariviere of PSNI. Terrie is VP of Nursing Informatics, as well as being an RN and a former school nurse, and Tami is VP of Sales.
Every parent knows the way kids’ vaccine documentation has always worked: You get paperwork from the doctor’s office and take it to the school, and the school nurse enters it into each child’s records. Terrie, the former school nurse, recalls it taking 2-3 minutes to enter each record into the school’s database. She had 400 students and each student got 20+ vaccinations. So that’s 2-3 minutes, times 400, times 20, which adds up to… well, a lot of coffee to keep from dozing off.
And all that time is needed when everything goes smoothly – that is, when the parent had the right form showing the right shots. One of our most popular cartoons at the IINews played with that subject…
“One frustration for the nurses,” Terrie told us, “is when the parents have the form from the provider but it doesn’t specify the exact immunization that’s required by the state. For instance, state regulations usually require the pneumococcal conjugate. But there’s also a pneumococcal polysaccharide. If the doctor’s office just puts “pneumococcal” on the form, the school nurse can’t accept it. So they have to tell the parent, who has to go back to the provider’s office.”
Now, however, Tami describes how it’s working for a school nurse with PSNI software in a state that allows full information exchange with the state immunization registry via STC’s Immslink:
“In the same 2-3 minutes a school nurse used to spend inputting one record for one student, she can now push a button to query the immunization registry and all the student vaccines will import into SNAP in seconds. This can be done for an individual student, a classroom, a grade, or even the whole school at one time. And there’s no confusion about whether or not it’s the right form of the vaccine.”
“Nurses have been asking for this,” Tami said, “for so long.”
STC’s Nick Harrar, who is responsible for coordinating registry data for nurses using SNAP, reports a brisk start to the new service. The first 18 schools to become operational, in 10 states, have already initiated 128,000 secure HL7 queries in just the first 90 days.
SNAP users have the capability to alert parents in one school year as to what vaccinations their kids will need before the start of school in the upcoming school year. This gives parents time to schedule and get their children vaccinated before school starts, preventing exclusion from school, which could ultimately affect their education.
Further, PSNI has begun offering a health portal for parents. It allows parents to interact with the nurse by viewing visits, uploading documents, and electronically signing forms and more. But, even better from the school’s point of view, it alerts parents in real-time when a child is overdue for their next vaccine.
You can see why nurses have wanted such a system: the parents get the reminders and get the shots, then the data goes into the registry and that updates the school’s records. As Terrie put it, “You no longer have to paper chase all these vaccines.”
The novelist Darynda Jones wrote,
“Paperwork wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for all the paper. And the work.”
When it comes to vaccination reporting and compliance, PSNI’s system, with Immslink connections to state registries, takes away most of the paper and most of the work. Not bad.