According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized annually for the flu and its related complications. The duration of the flu season varies, but it most commonly peaks in the U.S. between December and February. Flu vaccine reduces the average person’s chances of catching the flu by up to 80 percent during flu season.

Patient engagement through Population Health initiatives seeks to decrease the likelihood of illness and increase prevention through automated proactive patient outreach. Patient compliance measured by “getting patients in the door” is the first step for effective population health. Of the many conditions that can be targeted, influenza is one of the simplest and most effective population health campaigns to execute.

How the Community Medical 2015 Flu Clinic works

We used the NextGen Healthcare solution for population health to automate email communication and patient outreach, NextGen® Patient Portal, and traditional mail. Because of our rural population, traditional mail is more effective than email. One of the reasons we feel it’s important for our patients to get their flu shots at our clinic is so we can ensure it’s documented in the patient’s record. If flu shots are administered elsewhere, we may not be able to capture this important piece of information until we engage the patient. This is particularly important as we transition to value-based care.

Multiple Selection Criteria

Using the patient profiler application within the NextGen® Population Health solution, we launched this year’s campaign by segmenting our patient database into three primary groups. Patients were targeted for outreach based on the following criteria:

They had been seen within the last two years for any office visit (to determine they were appropriate); and were:

  • not on the Population Health Exclusion List (Filtered by user-defined fields);
  • not a nursing home patient (SQL stored procedure checked nursing home addresses)
  • above the age of five months (Minimum age for influenza immunization is six months with an estimated one-month delay communication/letter/schedule)

Staggering the Communication Schedule

It’s important to schedule patient alerts in stages so the office is not flooded with calls for appointments at the same time and patient flow is manageable for staff.

Phase 1

The first group was contacted one month before flu clinics began. As of November 2015, 27 percent of our patients contacted have received an immunization.

Phase 2

We then identified patients who have not responded and drilled down for a second alert to those patients most at risk, such as children aged five years or younger, and any adult age 65 and older. We mailed second letters to these homes followed by phone calls to those who had not responded.

We’re getting good at this… trending high

We’re tracking patient response to determine the overall increase in immunizations compared to last year and the results are in! We’ve seen a 69 percent increase in the number of influenza immunizations administered as a result of using population health solutions from NextGen Healthcare, And yes…we’ve checked these numbers twice!

During this time we’ve added no new physicians, no new flu clinic dates, or no new businesses. The increase has been significant compared to 2014 prior to our population health solution being in full swing for influenza outreach.

Read how Community Medical saved a life using the NextGen Healthcare solution for population health.