Flu clinics testing record-keeping app to ease rollout of COVID-19 vaccine

·2 min read

Staff at Ottawa's Bruyère flu clinics are piloting new technology that tracks a family's immunization records through an app to prepare for a paperless COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

The new system, created by CANImmunize and called Clinic Flow, is being used to book flu shot appointments at two clinics run by the health-care group.

Dr. Sufian Zayed, a family physician and unit director of the Bruyère family medicine centre, said his staff expected to be overwhelmed by the current flu season, but said the new system helped mitigate those fears.

"It helped us significantly improve our efficiency, and we were able to cut our administration time by half," he told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning on Monday.

The goal is to minimize the face-to-face interactions and paperwork normally associated with vaccination. People can book their appointment, complete their screening for COVID-19 and sign immunization consent forms — all before entering a clinic, said Katherine Atkinson, chief operating officer of CANImmunize.

That information can then be sent to both the patient and the hospital's occupational health department for tracking purposes.

"Which is going to be really important for the COVID-19 vaccine," Atkinson said. "There'll be multiple vaccines on the market and they're all more than one dose. So having that information in real time is going to be really helpful in supporting the COVID-19 vaccine rollout."

Patient privacy protected

While some initially raised privacy concerns about Canada's COVID-19 Alert app, Atkinson said this new digital platform requires the user's consent every step of the way.

"We use all of the top private security protocols to protect your information throughout the entire system," she said.

If the pilot is deemed a success, Atkinson said her organization would like to work with CAN Health Network, a national partnership between leading Canadian health organizations, to make it available at hospitals across the country.

Zayed said his team has already heard positive feedback about the new CANImmunize system, both from Bruyère staff and patients.

"From our patient standpoint, they have been very happy [for us to] to bring them in, to get their immunization and then be on their way without having to concern themselves about COVID-19 exposure because it's such a paperless system," he said.

The pilot runs until the end of 2020 and is funded by the CAN Health Network.