The Ministry of Health is planning to have a national immunisation register up and running in Auckland by the middle of the year and across the country by July 2005.
The register, known as NIR, was first embarked on as a project in 2002, but changes in IT architecture and the decision to use the NIR to record meningococcal B vaccinations meant the go-live date was delayed until this year, says project manager Bridget Allan.
“The delays were because of the size of the modifications we had to do, defining user requirements for a national system.”
One of the changes that was made was to move from a hub-and-spoke architecture, that would have involved computers at some DHBs set to serve as hubs for several others, to having one central server in Wellington.
The decision was driven by the timeframe for the meningococcal B immunisation programme, which will start shortly, says Allan.
The NIR, which will record immunisation details of all newborn babies but won’t pick up details of children already born — the meningococcal B immunisation programme will do that — is based on KidsLink, an immunisation database for newborn children run at Counties Manukau District Health Board and at Westkids, a primary care organisation in West Auckland.
Orion Systems provided the software for KidsLink and will do so for the immunisation register.
Allan says the development phase of the meningococcal B programme has almost been completed. “There’s been a lot of policy work, business process development, training manuals etc.”
IT developments are also “well underway”, she says. “Orion are testing it and will hand it over to the ministry for user testing this month.”
Modifications made since the KidsLink work “mean we were far more confident about the quality of the whole NIR system, including interfaces.”
Working alongside the register will be the schools-based vaccination system, an application developed specifically for the meningococcal B immunisation programme. Developed by the Simpl Group, SBVS will “be handed over to us shortly”.
The ministry is also working on the project with five patient management software vendors, MedTech, Houston, Next Generation, IntraHealth and MedCen.
“We’re in negotiations with them regarding upgrades to their products so they’re NIR-compliant.”
The go-live is set for the middle of this year at Counties Manukau DHB and Westkids “and there’s some complexity re how we do the first go-live, with the need to maintain the KidsLink cohort.
“We expect the NIR apps, the schools-based system and the patient management system vendors will all be ready for delivery at Counties Manukau District Health Board and the eastern corridor of the Auckland DHB by mid-2004.
“Once we learn from our experience there, it will be rolled out to the rest of Auckland, Northland and then back southwards.
“In the South Island we’ll work with Otago and Southland DHBs first, then the rest of the island, and expect that by mid-2005 all DHBs will be on stream.”
Challenges facing the meningococcal immunisation programme include the fact the vaccine has to be kept cold, has a limited shelf life and requires three injections at set intervals.
“The NIR is a crucial tool for the meningococcal B campaign — every vaccination will be recorded, allowing one team to