A DIGITAL VACCINATION RECORD FOR CANADIANS
The necessity of having to use yellow immunization cards in today’s digitized world is frustrating for many Canadian parents.
The current — and very dated — yellow card system means many lost or forgotten cards and concerns around inaccuracy that ultimately, reverberate into regional records.
Dr. Kumanan Wilson, a physician at the Ottawa Hospital, founded CANImmunize as a response to the problem of inaccurate records and parental frustration around immunization. A national, digital platform that connects Canadians to their own vaccination records, CANImmunize makes it easy to stay up-to-date on vaccinations by sending reminders for when it’s time to get vaccinated.
“As a physician, one of the things I've realized is how important it is for patients to have access to their own health information,” he says. “They need to be partners in their own care.”
INNOVATING IMMUNIZATION IN CANADA
Having studied immunization for over two decades, Dr. Wilson came across many challenges, including hesitancy around receiving vaccinations, a lack of accuracy around data records, and a scarcity of correct information when it comes to vaccinations and their coverage.
“I've done a lot of academic work in the area and unfortunately, I kept running up against the same issues over and over again,” he explains.
Eventually, Dr. Wilson realized that the best way to improve vaccination rates across the country was to equip Canadians with the information they require to make informed decisions about vaccinations. To do this, they needed to have the right tools to manage their own information.
And that’s how CANImmunize was born. A recipient of the 2015 Connected to the Community Award, the app provides access to information and resources about vaccinations from trusted Canadian health sources, allowing users to make informed vaccination decisions for themselves and their families. It also helps users securely manage their own immunization records on their smartphones. Since its inception, CANImmunize has also become a Health Standards Organization Leading Practice and WHO Vaccine SafetyNet Certified.
FREEDOM TO SELF-MANAGE
Jennifer Ganton, a mother of two children, is a CANImmunize user. She says having to use the yellow immunization cards made her feel disconnected from the health care system.
“We always needed to bring the yellow immunization card to every doctor’s appointment with the kids but unfortunately, there would be times when we’d forget to bring them,” she says. “Not having the cards during each visit meant that it was a challenge to keep track of the vaccines and to report them to the kids’ daycare. It also meant that we could risk losing our spot in the daycare.”
But things changed significantly for Jennifer and her family when she decided to give CANImmunize a chance nearly six years ago.
“As a parent, you want to be in control of your family’s health care and to always know what's going on,” she says. “With CANImmunize, everything is right at my fingertips on my phone. It’s definitely changed the way we manage our vaccinations, because it’s driven by me, the user, and it has a lot of other great features besides just being able to track your vaccinations.”
A SHARED VISION
Dr. Wilson sees the relationship between CANImmunize and ACCESS 2022 as part of a much larger, overall picture of what the future of health care in Canada should look like.
“Both of these initiatives share a common vision of empowering individuals with their health information and the ability of digital technology to make this happen,” he says. “This partnership will not only help users make better decisions for themselves and their families but also create better connections between patients and their health care providers.”
Jennifer also notes that it’s very important to take advantage of and promote the available opportunities — such as CANImmunize and ACCESS 2022 — that will help increase the use of digitally-enabled health care solutions in Canada.
“I'm really excited to be part of the ACCESS 2022 movement because it’s about realizing the benefits of digital technology and health at the same time,” she says. “In the past, it was easy to feel that as a patient, you didn't have a lot of control over your own health care. But now, with tools like CANImmunize being made available to us, I’m hoping that life will become a little bit easier, and we’re going to become healthier. And for those reasons, I would recommend for people to get onboard.”