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Collaborative UT Team Receives $1.3M Grant to Reduce Barriers to Immunizations

Victoria Niederhauser, dean of the College of Nursing, and her collaborative team at UT- Xueping Li, Dan Doulet Faculty Fellow and professor of industrial and systems engineering in the Tickle College of Engineering; Sarah Lowe, director and professor in the School of Design in the College of Architecture and Design; and Tami Wyatt, associate dean of research in the College of Nursing- were awarded a $1.3 million grant from the Tennessee Department of Health to help reduce barriers to immunizations in children across the state.

The SmartSHOTS App project will help implement a smart digital systems app that helps minimize barriers to childhood immunizations for Tennessee parents.

“We are excited to use technology to decrease barriers to childhood immunizations in our state,” said Niederhauser. “Our hope is that by working with a multi-disciplinary team and the community to develop this app, we will find ways to support parents so they can easily access vaccines for their children.”

The app will be created through a design thinking process with community engagement by an established inter-professional team of nurses, industrial engineers, public health researchers, and designers skilled in the theory and methodology required to develop successful solutions.

“The collaborators of the Health Innovation Technology and Simulation (HITS) lab are excited to work with health council members representing their counties across Tennessee,” said Wyatt. “Nurses, engineers, designers, public health experts and volunteers will work together to build a meaningful health app that reduces barriers to vaccinations.”

The SmartSHOTS app is an extension to the Searching for Hardships and Obstacles to Shots (SHOTS) survey– a survey used in many studies identifying parental barriers to childhood immunizations throughout the United States since 2010. There are three focus areas of this survey: identifying barriers to access to vaccines, exploring parental concerns about childhood vaccines, and determining how important parents feel getting childhood vaccines.

“The process for developing the app foregrounds the needs of Tennesseans for whom it will be designed,” said Lowe. “From the start, we convened an interdisciplinary team which brings together expertise about health care needs, the design of the user experience, and systems for gathering community input and implementing the solution. This collaborative approach will result in a better solution for Tennesseans and is an excellent example of UT’s commitment to our land-grant mission to do good in our region and world.”

The SmartSHOTS app will not only identify parental barriers to childhood vaccinations, but it will provide information based on input to minimize these barriers. Key features of the SmartSHOTS app include immunization facts, appointment reminders, logging and tracking immunization schedule, location-based intelligent search for immunization, and transportation services.

The project began in spring 2022. The app will be tested in seven regions in Tennessee and then made available to parents across the state.

More information about the project can be found at SmartSHOTS.Tennessee.edu.

CONTACT: Kara Clark Cardwell (kmclark2@utk.edu, 865-974-9498)