Effort to modernize laws related to Montana’s Immunization Information System this session are underway
By Bekki Kirsch-Wehner, Immunization Program Manager, Department of Health & Human Services
Montana’s Immunization Information system (IIS), imMTrax, securely stores immunization records accessed by health care providers and schools to quickly determine what vaccines may be needed during a medical visit or to meet school attendance requirements. An estimated 85% of the state’s children have at least two shots recorded in imMTrax and additional sources of immunization information are being added to improve the completeness of the IIS.
At the current time, healthcare providers must obtain patient consent to share information with imMTrax. This approach is referred to as an “opt-in” consent model. For the many healthcare providers submitting immunization information to imMTrax daily, as well as public health agencies and school administrations who utilize the information, the current process is time consuming and inefficient. Additionally, providers using their electronic health records (EHR) to send immunization information electronically are presented with unique challenges as most EHRs are not set up to accommodate the opt-in consent module.
Montana is one of only three states that use an opt-in rather than an opt-out consent model to gather immunization information. Legislation to be proposed by the Montana Medical Association, and other partners, will propose moving to an opt-out model during the 2017 legislative session. Similar models have demonstrated cost and time savings for healthcare providers, public health agencies, and school administrations while still allowing for personal or parental choice regarding participation in imMTrax. In the opt-out model, administrative burdens are reduced by requiring documentation for only those who choose not to participate in imMTrax, which studies show is less than 4%. The opt-out model also benefits patients, by simplifying the consent process.
Most importantly, adopting the opt-out consent model will increase the overall effectiveness of imMTrax and continue to help patients, parents, healthcare providers, public health agencies, and school administrations prevent disease and disease outbreaks through improved immunization coverage.