When Michael Peretta and Nathan Scott started working together on a digital immunization record app, they had no idea how urgent vaccine technology was.
The couple met as roommates at george washington university in DC, and in 2016 launched an app that allowed users to aggregate health data on their phones. In 2017, the pair won $75,000 in health tech Advancing Health Data challenge, but decided to go a different route with technology. With more money and some advice from stakeholders to venture into the field of vaccination, the duo began working on what is now known as Role.
In 2019, Docket started a pilot project with the state of Utah to create a digitized vaccination record that could be used by students returning to public schools in K-12, with students required to provide their records for a new semester or people who needed evidence. vaccination for travel. It was also the year the United States experienced a measles outbreakand the need for proof of vaccination has increased.
“We started thinking, ‘Oh wow, this might end up being some kind of measles app in the middle of the outbreak,'” Perretta said. Technically. “We had no idea it would be so critical.”
The record, which is free to users, accesses a state’s immunization records to track a user’s vaccinations and upcoming due dates. It can remind a user or a child’s parent when it’s time for the annual flu shot or a routine reminder, and in some cases, like the New Jersey Docket client, states can integrate Smart Health Cards — created by the Public-Private Public Health Coalition VCI — which allows you to check and control your vaccination records with a simple QR code. The app grew organically for about a year, the duo said.
Fast forward to today, about a year after COVID-19 vaccines were introduced to the general public. States working with Docket can now also integrate COVID-19 vaccine data into the app and use it to show proof of vaccination if needed. This is useful, for example, for New Jersey residents traveling to Pennsylvania or for Pennsylvania residents who got vaccinated in New Jersey.
Scott, the company’s CTO, said until recently that each state only had its own separate vaccine records; the City of Philadelphia also has his. In recent years, the CDC developed IZ Gateway, an IT infrastructure system that enables the exchange of immunization data between systems in each state. Each state still maintains its own systems, but now there’s a way for states to more easily share data with each other.
Docket works directly with health departments to integrate data, which presents its own interesting technical challenges, Scott said. Most vaccine registries are at least 30 years old, and the data points vary, as they are mostly filled out by doctors. Docket’s technology stack is built on Ruby on Rails with AWS and the application is written in TypeScripts with React Native.
“Our biggest challenge is data quality because different states have different reporting requirements,” Scott said. “Some states are like, ‘We have zip codes or phone numbers,’ so we spend time finding unique data.”
For now, the company is made up of Scott, who lives in Alexandria, Virginia, and Perretta, who lives in New York and is the CEO of the company. They also work with a handful of contract technologists. While the concept of the app has been around for years, the pandemic has added urgency to its work.
“We started working with Utah in 2019 after really starting to work on the business in 2017. It took us a few years for our first state to join us,” Perretta said. “Without the pandemic, there was less urgency behind us. And now, we would love to work with anyone who wants to work with us.