How Provider Scheduling Increases Vaccination Rates

August 4, 2022 | Stericycle Communication Solutions

August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), and there are several strategies providers can deploy to increase vaccination rates among their patient bases. Although health care professionals may face obstacles in keeping their patients up to date with recommended vaccinations, providers have greater access to technological resources than ever before. The patient journey is increasingly digital, which provides the opportunity to utilize patient outreach efforts that boost engagement and increase awareness.

For healthcare marketing tips that increase vaccination rates, download our Healthcare Awareness Campaign Playbook.

Barriers to Patients Staying on Schedule with Vaccines

Despite the safety and efficacy of vaccines at preventing diseases, there are significant barriers for both adults and young children to be fully immunized. These include inadequate access to health care, inconvenient or limited clinical hours for vaccinations, and immunization administration fees. Barriers to immunization can be grouped into three categories:

System barriers, such as ineffective organization of the health care system and supply, distribution, and storage of vaccines

Health care provider barriers, such as clinicians who are not adequately educated about vaccines or do not have a reminder system for missed immunizations

Parent and patient barriers, such as fear of immunization-related adverse events

In addition, providers may have to combat misinformation about vaccinations. Childhood immunization rates are suboptimal due to parents’ misconceptions that vaccinations can weaken the immune system or lead to chronic illnesses. However, physicians are a key resource for accurate information on the benefits and risks of vaccinations. Providers can offer current vaccine information from the CDC before vaccination and can add time to immunization appointments so parents or patients can discuss their concerns beforehand.

In many cases, low immunization rates come from a lack of information. While patients are largely aware of the availability of influenza and tetanus vaccines, many do not know the recommended cadence. For example, patients are aware of the tetanus vaccine, but didn’t know adults should receive a booster every 10 years. If patients don’t come in for regular wellness visits, they may not be current on immunizations. Patients are substantially more likely to receive a vaccine if their health care professional recommended it.

Engagement Strategies to Increase Vaccine Uptake

Providers play a critical role in addressing vaccine hesitancy to boost immunization rates. By acting as an informative resource and delivering a clear recommendation, you can encourage patients with their vaccination decisions. While clinicians may not want to push back on patients who decide not to get vaccinated, engagement with patients is crucial. Rather than simply educating parents or patients on vaccine safety, providers can increase trust by acknowledging concerns and being open to discussion while making their recommendations.

Being more proactive about setting up vaccine appointments can be effective in increasing adherence. In fact, patients are three times more likely to receive vaccinations when their doctors make the appointments compared to when they are asked to make the appointments themselves. Scheduling vaccinations for patients makes it easier for them to keep up with recommended immunizations and getting more members of the practice involved can further increase vaccination rates. Staff members can support vaccine screenings and scheduling to boost the effectiveness of clinicians’ efforts.

Additionally, setting up automatic alerts in your electronic health records platform can help staff remember to discuss patients’ vaccination history at appointments and remind you when patients are overdue. Practices can also utilize their communications platforms to call and email patients when they are due for routine immunizations, empowering staff members to take advantage of all opportunities to vaccinate. Text messaging and automated patient outreach with personalized communications can remind patients to keep up with vaccinations and help them stay informed. Seamlessly combining different channels for engagement allows you to better connect with patients and provide a modern experience.

While August is NIAM, keeping patients on track with their immunizations is critical year-round. Increased communication around vaccines and a unified strategy within your practice can encourage patients to keep up with immunizations and help parents make more informed decisions for their children.

For more healthcare marketing tips that increase vaccination rates, download our Healthcare Awareness Playbook.

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