Eliminating the Barriers to Your Immunization Management Process
Influenza can wreak havoc on a hospital system, affecting employee absenteeism rates and overall patient health. During the 2013-14 season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that influenza vaccination prevented approximately 7.2 million illnesses and 90,000 hospitalizations associated with influenza. CDC also reports that if influenza vaccination levels had reached the Healthy People 2020 target of 70%, an estimated additional 5.9 million illnesses and 42,000 hospitalizations associated with influenza might have been averted. Immunization management processes and procedures help hospitals meet these goals.
As we sit in roughly the middle of the 2014-15 flu season, activity is high in about half of the United States and is steadily increasing. During the past 30 years, peak influenza activity has occurred in the months of January through March, and significant activity can occur in as late as May. That said, we’re likely just entering into the height of the season, with much more activity to come over the next several weeks.
Hospitals and long term healthcare facilities have a big job every year to ensure that their healthcare personnel (HCP) are vaccinated. HCP are not only at risk for contracting the flu virus themselves, they can transmit it to patients even before realizing they are sick.
CDC does not mandate influenza vaccinations for HCP, but it does recommend that all employees receive one every year. The challenge in executing such a program is ensuring that everyone, from physicians to nurses and paramedics, all the way through contractors, volunteers, and non-clinical staff, are vaccinated.
Developing an effective vaccination program in your hospital is oftentimes easier said than done. Many factors including tracking effectiveness, the administrative burden associated with keeping records up to date, and ensuring that everyone is compliant are just a few of the obstacles hospitals face. But, by developing a solid foundation for your program, you can be on your way towards reducing the morbidity rate of patients that contract influenza from your HCP.
The number one way to manage immunization tracking is to shift the responsibility to your staff. You can help facilitate this in a number of ways:
- Educate staff on the benefits and risks of the influenza vaccination
- Provide vaccinations at convenient locations, times, and at no cost
- Automate reminders to your staff and track status electronically
Vaccination is the single best way to prevent the flu. The Association for Professionals in Infection Control reports that for every 15 healthcare providers who receive the influenza vaccination, one fewer person in the community will contract an influenza-like illness. Further, vaccinating healthcare professionals reduces absenteeism and increases patient safety. CDC has put together a short, informative video, directed toward healthcare personnel, that details the benefits of receiving a yearly flu vaccination. Consider showing this to your staff prior to initiating your vaccination program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GS-bhbRi6g.
It goes without saying that people are busy – especially people who work in a hospital setting. Making it easy for your healthcare personnel and non-clinical staff to receive vaccinations means that there is more likelihood that they’ll get it done. Offer numerous days, various times of day and no-cost vaccines to keep your compliance level up.
A 2014 study by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America found that “automated reminders and tracking accounted for more than 98 percent of compliance among healthcare personnel.” This makes sense. When your staff is automatically notified about immunization records nearing expiration, action is inspired. Records kept in paper files, Access databases or in Excel spreadsheets simply do not provide the flexibility that specialized software can bring to a large healthcare organization.
Venato makes the immunization management process simple because your staff is automatically notified when their immunization records are nearing expiration. They’ll receive email notifications beginning 90 days out, and at increased intervals until the requirement is satisfied.
Venato is cloud-based software that works with your current HR system. It seamlessly manages immunization and vaccination programs so that your focus remains on quality of care and patient safety. Automated reminders and state-of-the-art tracking mechanisms shift the responsibility of adherence to your employees. You are able to see roll-up summaries with the click of a mouse and determine if your staff is meeting both critical and non-critical immunization requirements.