According to the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, flu progression in the Southern Hemisphere is a good predictor of our flu season in the United States. This year, flu season spiked early in Australia, which may indicate we’re in for a wave of cases soon. For healthcare leaders, this means mobilizing resources swiftly to curb the impact.
As healthcare professionals, you have a pivotal role in safeguarding your patients' health, and one crucial way to do this is by increasing flu vaccination rates. In this blog, we'll explore a dual approach to achieving this goal: quick, straightforward strategies that require minimal preparation, and technology-enhanced methods that harness the power of innovation for even better results.
Quick Wins: Immediate Actions for Higher Vaccination Rates
To boost flu vaccination rates, there are immediate actions you can take with minimal preparation. These 'Quick Wins' provide straightforward steps to encourage flu vaccinations among your patients.
Start the conversation early
Don't wait until flu season is in full swing to discuss vaccinations with your patients. Begin the conversation during routine check-ups and appointments well in advance. Stress the importance of flu vaccinations in preventing illness and protecting vulnerable individuals.
Use visual cues
Post flu shot reminders everywhere – at your front desk, in examination rooms, on social media and on your website. You can find helpful resources in both English and Spanish on the CDC website.
Offer convenient access
Make it as easy as possible for patients to receive their flu vaccinations. This might involve offering flu shots during regular appointments, providing extended clinic hours, or organizing vaccination clinics at community locations. The more convenient it is, the more likely patients are to follow through.
Schedule shots during patient exams
Encourage staff to get patient consent for a flu shot during in-person visits while confirming the reason for the visit at the beginning of an encounter.
Tech-Enhanced Approaches: Leveraging Technology for Better Results
Although you can get started quickly with the strategies just mentioned, you can take your vaccination efforts to the next level by creating create a comprehensive, coordinated plan around vaccination education and scheduling – and for that, you need patient engagement technology to reach and engage patients effectively.
To make the most of your efforts, we recommend focusing on two core activities: proactive outreach and optimizing your patient portal.
Proactive patient outreach
One effective and proactive method to promote flu shot appointments is by including vaccination disclaimers in upcoming appointment communications to patients. These notifications can encourage patients to request a flu shot during their visit or prompt them to schedule an appointment at a later date. If you’re already leveraging an automated notification solution, this should be relatively easy to get started with.
You can take this a step further by reaching out to your most at-risk patients with different, personalized vaccine information. Many healthcare organizations face a challenge in proactively reaching out to these high-risk patients due to the significant administrative effort required to identify them and schedule appointments.
Patient engagement solutions can play a crucial role in streamlining the process by:
Identifying at-risk populations
Identifying patient populations for outreach can be a tedious, manual process without the right tools. Use a solution that can filter patients by age, diagnosis, procedure, or other charted criteria and then send a message prompting patients to schedule a vaccination via phone, email, or text – whatever channel of communication patients prefer.
Simplifying the appointment scheduling process can significantly boost patient follow-through. Ensure that your patient engagement solution can utilize email and text messages containing a link that prompts patients to schedule appointments online. Also, consider the functionality of your scheduling solution – does it make it easy for patients to take next steps? Actions such as app downloads or portal logins can create unnecessary barriers for patients. They should have the ability to view real-time appointment availability, and when they select an appointment slot, it should seamlessly integrate into the practice's schedule.
Automating next steps
Once an appointment appears on the schedule, automate delivery of necessary forms, such as the patient consent for vaccination, prior to the visit with automated solutions. Using automated solutions allows providers to prioritize patients receiving communications about vaccination – enabling you to focus first on the patients that need vaccination the most, first.
Optimize your patient portal
About 20% of patients access their portal six or more times in a single year, with an additional 30% accessing it one to two times. Take advantage of this communication channel to boost vaccination rates.
Some ways you can optimize your patient portal, include:
Placing a flu shot reminder prominently on your patient portal serves as a simple way to prompt patients who are already using the portal for tasks like accessing their records, making payments, or requesting prescription refills to also schedule a flu shot appointment.
Use secure messaging
Don’t overlook sending out secure messages to patients you know are particularly at-risk. One advantage of using the portal for reminders is that patients are already logged into the portal to retrieve the message, so scheduling is just an easy click away.
Increasing flu vaccination rates with InteliChart
By combining effective communication, patient outreach, and the optimized use of technology, healthcare organizations can make significant strides in increasing vaccination rates. Providers must ensure that their patients are not only aware of the importance of flu vaccinations but also have easy access to scheduling them.
InteliChart's comprehensive patient engagement platform acts a powerful ally in your mission to boost vaccination rates. With solutions that span the entire patient journey, including convenient online scheduling, automated appointment reminders, and targeted outreach capabilities, providers can effortlessly send timely reminders about flu vaccination appointments, leading to increased awareness and higher compliance rates.
Learn how InteliChart can help you reach your vaccination and other population health goals by scheduling a demo.