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Flu Shots Are a Top Healthcare Priority This Year

Posted by Debra Zalvan on Nov 5, 2020 7:15:00 AM
Debra Zalvan
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How Do You Make Sure Your Patients Get the Message?

According to the CDC, “reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses, like flu, this fall and winter is more important than ever.” Keeping people healthy during flu season and the continuing COVID-19 pandemic will be particularly important – and challenging. So how do hospitals, health systems and medical practices attract patients’ attention, counter misinformation and successfully urge patients to get the flu vaccine? How do you ensure that patients receive critical messages that can impact care, outcomes and cost?

Creating the Infrastructure to Engage Patients at a Moment's Notice

Email and SMS text messages are proven effective at reaching targeted patient populations and individuals, including those harder to reach through other means, such as digital or print advertising, signage, and printed handouts. But not all messages are created equal when it comes to getting and keeping patients’ attention. Messages must be personalized, reliable and relevant to each unique recipient. They need to connect with patients in ways that show understanding, support and guidance for their physical, emotional and mental health – rather than simply relaying impersonal information.

Ongoing, interactive and personalized messages delivered directly to a patient through email or SMS text can cut through the clutter and get noticed—especially when the sender is trusted, the communication is expected, and the messages are part of a regular cadence. They create an infrastructure of engagement that lets healthcare organizations engage patients at a moment’s notice, which is particularly helpful as the pandemic persists.

A digital platform that engages patients where they live in their daily lives facilitates this relationship and has become critical in the current environment:

  • Many patients have delayed or skipped standard care due to fears of potential exposure to COVID-19 or because that care has been less accessible during the pandemic. If you rely on handouts or signage in your offices to spread the word, you need to consider a more comprehensive approach to reach patients who are missing or delaying regular visits.

  • Misinformation on flu vaccine effectiveness or risk has been widely circulated. Information from a trusted source – the healthcare provider with whom patients have a more personal relationship– can help reach those patients with timely and accurate information.

  • It’s more difficult than ever to cut through the overwhelming volume of messages, media and distractions that can make even the most critical information look like noise or get lost in the maelstrom.

Timely Reminders Spur Action

Each year, UbiCare supplements the episode-specific virtual care we develop for clients with messages encouraging patients to get their flu vaccines, providing information about why, when and how to do so. These customizable messages are added to existing message streams delivered through our SmarteXp® patient engagement platform.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, our flu vaccine messaging reinforces the reality that:

  • The flu can be life-threatening, but the vaccine is safe, effective and recommended for nearly everyone over 6 months of age.

  • It’s possible to get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time, compounding the health risks for patients.

  • Both the flu and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, making it hard for patients to know which illness they may have.

Building on established digital relationships means these messages get noticed and patients take action. Reporting on their experience in one flu season alone, one OB department saved 140 staff hours and at least $4,000 previously spent fielding calls about the flu shots by proactively delivering the information patients need before the clinic phone starts ringing.

The pandemic has demonstrated the critical importance of having an infrastructure for engagement that extends into patients’ daily lives and reaches them where they live. The ability to communicate quickly and effectively as schedules are disrupted, new guidance emerges, and timely notifications – such as when and why to get a flu vaccine – are called for, has helped healthcare professionals navigate these extraordinary times and continue to provide quality care.

To learn more about UbiCare’s SmarteXp® platform, our annual messaging in support of flu vaccination and how to reach patients outside the care environment in their daily lives, contact UbiCare by submitting the form below.

Topics: Patient Engagement, UbiCare, SmarteXp, patient education, COVID-19