What I've now realized is that there's something else that we're missing - the competitors and fans don't know exactly who's leading the meet, unless they track every miss of every competitor at every height themselves. I think we can fix this by building it into the improvement that you're trying to find re removing the "passing advantage" of the higher-seeded vaulters.
Here's my new proposal:
When there are 5 or less competitors remaining, the jump order shall be changed to the reverse order of placing in the competition so far. At each new height, the jump order may change. For jump order purposes, a pass is considered equal to a make. Ties are broken by applying IAAF tie-breaking rules 181.8(a) and 181.8(b). If competitors are still tied, they shall attempt the new height in the same order as at the previous height, relative to the competitors that they are tied with.
Here are the applicable IAAF tie-breaking rules:
8. If two or more athletes clear the same final height, the procedure to decide the places will be the following:
(a) The athlete with the lowest number of jumps at the height last cleared shall be awarded the higher place.
(b) If the athletes are equal following the application of Rule 181.8(a), the athlete with the lowest total of failures throughout the competition up to and including the height last cleared, shall be awarded the higher place.
This new proposal has these advantages:
1. At each height, it gives the "passing advantage" to the current leader of the meet, rather than the higher-seeded vaulters; and
2. When there are 5 or less competitors remaining, simple observation of the jump order indicates to everyone (vaulters and fans alike) the current order of places.
So this proposed rule is fairer to everyone. It doesn't add much additional workload to the officials; it improves the aspect of passing strategy (rather than eliminating it altogether); it makes it explicitly clear (at each new height) what place each vaulter is in; and it doesn't require any secret "pass declarations".
Also, contrary to what I mentioned earlier, I think a "helper app" on a smart phone or tablet could help officials to determine the new jump order (i.e. make it more fail-safe), but it need not be a mandatory electronic aid. Officials can still easily compute this manually, and would quickly be corrected by competitors if they made a mistake.