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Patient engagement can be a challenge, and flu season always presents its own set of struggles. While some patients have seen the inoculation as “optional” in the past, it can make all the difference this upcoming season.
During a recent flu season, 45% of US patients received a flu vaccine. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated there were more than 3.5 million influenza infections during the 2018–2019 flu season.
They also estimate around 16.5 million medical visits, 490,600 hospitalizations, and 34,200 deaths related to the flu.
Flu can be minor for some patients, but for others it can be deadly. Add the persistent risks associated with COVID-19, and flu season becomes more dangerous, especially among at-risk populations.
Vaccines can be the difference between an office visit and a hospitalization. Through effective patient engagement, you can not only ensure that your patients get the care they need, but you can provide preventative care to keep them healthy and safe this flu season.
Patients are more aware about their health and safety than ever considering recent events. A co-infection of COVID-19 and flu can be deadly. While steps to avoid a COVID-19 infection will also be effective during the flu season, it is important for a patient's health to take all available preventative steps to ensure health and safety during the fall.
Engaging your patients is an important part of alleviating some of their stress (which can, in turn, weaken their immune systems) and taking proactive steps towards staying healthy.
By taking steps such as emailing patients to let them know that you have flu shots available, it puts flu shots, as well as your practice, in front of mind. Engaging patients by email, text, and social media can help convince more and more of your patient population about the importance of getting a flu shot every year.
Technology is on your side. The CGM CONNECTION Patient Relationship Management tool is available to make your outreach and patient communication easier than ever. CGM CONNECTION also integrates nicely with popular EHR and practice management software such as CGM APRIMA, CGM eMDs, CGM LYTEC, and CGM MEDISOFT.
Your medical practice should develop a plan for how to handle more patients coming in for a flu vaccine. If your office leveraged a preparedness plan recently for treating well patients and COVID-19 at-risk patients, this can be modified for flu vaccinations. For example, screening patients via phone or telehealth to determine their needs can keep patients and staff safe.
Many healthcare practices have created wellness days and COVID-19 treatment days in recent years, and this can be easily leveraged today for flu vaccines.
Scheduled hours for flu vaccinations can help patients feel safe enough to come in.
Use your patient engagement tools—especially email, text, patient portal messaging, and Facebook. Your practice can share its flu clinic schedule and teach patients how to make an appointment for a flu shot. Not only is this easier for the patient, but your healthcare practice can plan ahead to ensure a safe environment and a quick visit.
Patient engagement is at the forefront of any successful provider's best practices. When a patient is engaged in their care, they lead a healthier life. By planning ahead and leveraging patient engagement tools such as CGM CONNECTION, your practice can ensure more of your patients are protected during the flu season and beyond.