What Is I-CARE?
I-CARE, or Illinois Comprehensive Automated Immunization Registry Exchange, is a web based immunization record-sharing application developed by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The application allows public and private healthcare providers to share the immunization records of Illinois residents with other physicians statewide.
The main features include
- Calculation of immunization due dates
- Automatic population and printing options for the school physical form and patient immunization history report
- Remind/Recall feature to track and notify patients of due dates
- Vaccine inventory feature to track vaccine usage by lot number
- Ability to record patient contraindications, adverse reactions, or immunities
- Assessment of immunization coverage levels by practice
- Temperature Log feature to track and report vaccine storage by appliance
- Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) module containing up to date VIS forms for printing, distribution, and tracking
Besides keeping track of the immunizations a child has already received, I-CARE forecasts immunization due dates based on the nationally recognized “Recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule.” These recommendations are approved by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.
What Is the Purpose of I-CARE?
I-CARE is designed to help healthcare provider’s record, track, and report their patients’ immunizations. The registry allows physicians to access patient records for information about immunizations administered outside their practices. Provider participation is voluntary and not all providers within the state choose to participate in the registry. Patient participation is also voluntary. Patients wishing not to have their information included in the registry may opt-out at their provider.
What About Security and Patient Confidentiality?
I-CARE is designed to protect patient confidentiality while providing access to statewide registry information. Confidentiality is maintained through several security controls.
Open access to the statewide registry is not allowed. Only registered I-CARE users have access to the data and information is available only on a need-to-know basis. In other words, an I-CARE user cannot browse through patient records. Specific name or ID search criteria must be used to access information in the statewide registry.
To learn more, please review the I-CARE Confidentiality Policy.
Enrolling in I-CARE
Since I-CARE is a web-based application, you will need reliable high-speed internet access, preferably with a dedicated connection.
The hardware requirements for I-CARE are:
- 1024 x 768 or higher screen resolution
- High speed internet connection
The software requirements for I-CARE are:
- Internet Browser: Microsoft® Internet Explorer version 7.0 (minimum) and version 8.0 or higher is strongly recommended
- Adobe® Acrobat® Reader version 7.0 (minimum) and version 8.0 or higher is strongly recommended
The agreement for provider practice participation in I-CARE can be found under Resources.
The individual user agreement for healthcare providers participating in I-CARE can be found under Resources.
Individual user registration necessary to access I-CARE on the IDPH Web Portal can be found under Resources.
Obtaining a Record in I-CARE
Parents and individuals wishing to obtain a copy of immunization records for their child or themselves must follow the following steps:
- Complete the appropriate authorization to release information through I-CARE
- Return the signed copy of the authorization to the I-CARE Program Staff via email at email@example.com.
- Be sure to include a return fax number.
- Records will be sent via fax upon receipt of the appropriate authorization form.
- Records can only be sent via fax due to HIPAA regulations
Please note that because provider and patient participation is voluntary, not all immunization records may be obtained through I-CARE. If the records you wish to obtain are not in I-CARE, staff will call to alert you via the return contact information provided.
Parents and individuals are encouraged to ask their providers if they participate in I-CARE!
Submitting and Exchanging Data
If you are a provider and use an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system, you may be able to share data with I-CARE using HL7 data exchange. You will need to contact your EHR vendor to determine if your EHR system is HL7 compatible. You also may need to acquire an additional interface for your EHR to send and exchange immunization data.
I-CARE accepts immunization data in HL7 versions 2.3.1 or 2.5.1.
How Can I Send Immunization Data to the IDPH?
The IDPH has implemented HL7 data exchange using two methods. The first method is one-way data transfer of unsolicited vaccine record updates to the statewide registry. This method accepts batch immunization data using the Department’s Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) system or the I-CARE application.
The second method is a real-time, bidirectional data exchange of vaccine record updates, queries, and responses. This method allows immunization providers using their EHR system to query I-CARE for a patient (not found in their own EHR system) and ICARE will send the patient immunization information back. It also will allow providers to send updates from their EHR directly to I-CARE for immediate update. This method uses the Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) with web services.
To begin HL7 submission and exchange:
- Verify your EHR system is HL7-compatible. Contact your EHR vendor. The document HL7 I-CARE Specifications (see Publications) details the specifications required by I-CARE for sending data in HL7 format. This information can be passed along to your vendor or your technical staff to verify compatibility.
- Return to the Provider Enrollment section of the Enrolling in I-CARE page to complete provider enrollment.
- Determine how you will send data to I-CARE. Data can be sent using the Department’s SFTP system or using web services. Your EHR vendor can assist you for that determination. The I-CARE HL7 Procedures guide (see Publications) contains instructions on obtaining the SFTP/web services account and other documentation.
If you have questions regarding HL7 data exchange please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
I-CARE users may access a variety of training tools by selecting the new user button on the I-CARE application home page. These training tools include
- The I-CARE user manual
- “How To” Training Videos
- Tips and Tricks
- What’s New
The IDPH routinely schedules webinars to train users on both new and existing registry functions. I-CARE users who require training may submit a training request to the I-CARE Program Staff via email at email@example.com.
In addition, I-CARE users who wish to receive hands-on training may do so through our partners at the Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP). ICAAP routinely schedules lab training sessions. To learn more, see our Resources.