VCI member orgs plan verifiable COVID-19 vaccine credentials next month

The 300-plus members of the Vaccination Credential Initiative announced earlier this month that the verifiable, interoperable vaccination record technology they’ve been working on since January should be generally available in May.

“Effective vaccination credentials – don’t call them vaccine passports – depend on an equitable and privacy-preserving approach to verifiable data sharing – enabling vaccinated individuals to show proof (in digital or paper form) for safe return to school, work, travel and public events.

The Vaccination Credential Initiative has steadily added health and technology organizations over the past four months, each working to innovate and expand easy digital access to vaccination records.

Among just some of the growing list of VCI members: Allscripts, Beth Israel Lahey Health, CARIN Alliance, Cerner, Change Healthcare, CPSI, Epic, HIMSS (parent company of Healthcare IT News), HL7, IBM, Imprivata Mayo Clinic, Meditech, Microsoft, MITRE, NextGen, Oracle, the Sequoia Project and Zocdoc.

Central to the project’s goal is the interoperable SMART Health Cards specification, based on W3C Verifiable Credential and HL7 FHIR standards.

In April, VCI plans to publish two implementation guides software developers to integrate SMART Health Cards specification into their apps and systems.

Both are now available for review online in draft form:

SMART Health Cards Framework IG offers foundational specs that define the mechanism for providing individuals with a verifiable copy of their clinical data; 

SMART Health Cards: Vaccination & Testing IG applies SMART Health Cards to vaccination and lab testing records with specific consideration for COVID-19.

The group expects production and general availability of the VCI specification to kick off next month. The goal is for it to proliferate across the many and myriad applications and IT systems across the healthcare ecosystem.

That’s no small feat, with “a federated system of more than 20,000 vaccination administration sites,” as the group points out.

VCI announced earlier this month, for example, that a test implementation developed by Cerner and should be available to eligible hospital and health system clients this summer; the company  said existing immunization records will retroactively be available as verified credentials later this year.

Since it launched this past January with the goal of devising “trustworthy, traceable, verifiable, and universally recognized digital record of vaccination status,” VCI’s work has continued apace.

Its diverse coalition of public and private organizations has grown significantly, with more than 300 healthcare and technology groups now working together, pro bono, on development and testing for issuance, sharing and validation of vaccine credentials.

The initiative also recently posted a charter that describes shared commitments among project participants. They promise to design tools that are transparent, inclusive and accessible, for all, and pledge to protect privacy of users’ health data.

“HL7 is committed to supporting global vaccination certification,” said HL7 CEO Dr. Charles Jaffe in a statement. “The Vaccination Credential Initiative is a critical step in providing patients and caregivers with a reliable and secure means of achieving that goal.”

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: [email protected]

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS publication.

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