Commentary

A program to increase flu vaccine compliance


 

Establishing a pediatric flu shot program increases vaccine compliance, and makes for happy patients and parents. It won’t hurt your bottom line either and actually will help it. A flu shot program potentially can be run by a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, physician’s assistant, or pediatric nurse practitioner, depending on your state’s law regarding vaccine administration by other than a physician, thus freeing up the physician to see well-child and sick-call patients.

It’s easy to set up a flu shot program and run it. Start preparing in June, preceding the upcoming flu season. Designate several Saturdays and or Sundays in September, October, November, December, and January as flu shot Saturdays and/or Sundays. And if Columbus day falls on a weekday, consider adding Columbus Day to your program dates as the kids often are off from school that day (check the local school calendar).

vaccine toddler Yarinca/istockphoto
Ask your EMR for a list of patients who did not have a flu vaccine in the previous year. Then ask your EMR for a list of patients who did have the flu vaccine last flu season. One final list to run from your EMR is a list of all patients not seen by your practice in the past 2 years. The flu shot program may bring them back into your practice. Your EMR lists should include the patient’s home address, any telephone numbers on file for the patient, and any email addresses the patient has provided to you. Be certain you have permission on file to send mail, emails, and make telephone calls to the patients.

Next, prepare a postcard to be mailed to all patients on the lists your EMR produced for you. Keep the postcard simple. Announce the program, and state the dates the flu shot program is running. Ask parents to call to make an appointment for a flu vaccine only by appointment “with the program.” In addition to mailing a postcard, announce the flu shot program by sending out automated telephone calls and emails to all three lists the EMR has produced for you. The postcard mailing is your first contact, essentially announcing the program with dates and times. An automated phone call may be used to announce a specific date for which you are “now booking.” A good option when using automated phone calls is to allow the caller to press “zero” to be connected to the office to schedule a “flu shot only” appointment! Finally, emails announcing the dates of the program simply will reinforce information about the program.

Martin I. Berman CEO of a pediatrics practice with locations in Staten Island and Brooklyn, NY. He holds a faculty appointment at State University of New York, Brooklyn, as a lecturer for the department of family medicine’s residency training program.
Martin I. Berman
Once you run your first flu shot–only program, separate and apart from your daily patient visits, your patients and their families will look forward to it, and book early next year. Remember to send out reminder calls 2 days before the program dates to remind patients of their flu shot appointments. Finally, offer the flu shot to parents, making the experience a family affair. Your patients and their parents will be back next season.

Mr. Berman has been providing practice management services to physicians and other medical providers since 1983. He is the CEO of a pediatrics practice with locations in Staten Island and Brooklyn, N.Y. He holds a faculty appointment at State University of New York, Brooklyn, as a lecturer for the department of family medicine’s residency training program. He has no disclosures to report. Email him at pdnews@frontlinemedcom.com.

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