It’s only been around a few years, but this little bit of technology has already received world wide acclaim for its ability to improve the safety of vaccines in the real-world setting.
In simple terms, Smartvax is a program practices install into their software system that sends an SMS directly to patients three days after they receive a vaccination. Patients are asked if they experienced an adverse reaction to the vaccine. A straightforward Yes (Y) or No (N) is all that is required. A No reply ends the conversation, but a Yes will trigger a brief questionnaire that examines the nature of the adverse reaction.
If the reaction resulted in the need to seek medical attention this is then flagged in the GP’s software inbox as well as with the local health authority.
In practical terms this means adverse reactions are tracked in real time and act as an early warning signal that something could be amiss with a vaccine. Smartvax was developed by Perth GP, Dr Alan Leeb and Ian Peters, following a spate of serious and unexpected adverse reactions among young children who received one brand of flu vaccine back in 2010. It was apparent that a better, more time-sensitive system of monitoring side effects to vaccines was needed to ensure the safety of patients.
With the widespread use of mobile phones, the day three post vax text has proven a very effective means of tracking reactions, with a high level of acceptance by patients. In a study from one NSW general practice, the response rate to the SMS text was 85% post-childhood vaccination, and even in the over 65 year age range the response rate was 74%.
Smartvax has now been adopted by more than 280 practices around Australia. The technology can also be used as a reminder system to prompt patients when their next vaccine is due.
This is such a clever idea and as general practice becomes more and more tech savvy one can envisage a day when Smartvax is a basic requirement for all clinics that provide vaccinations.
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