While the weather is warm, preventing the flu is usually not top of mind for most healthcare consumers. But for health plans, it’s never too early to start planning for the impending 2019-2020 season. Ideally, people will be vaccinated in the early fall, allowing sufficient time to build antibodies before the season is in full swing.
One of the challenges faced by health plans is designing a flu immunization program that addresses the low vaccination rates for adults in the U.S. Among adults aged 18 years and over, flu vaccine coverage in the 2017-2018 season was 37.1%, 6.2 percentage points lower than coverage during the 2016–2017 season.
Proactively treating up to 37 million Americans that suffer flu illnesses annually places a significant burden on our nation’s healthcare system—and drives up costs for health plans. Furthermore, between 36,000 and 61,000 Americans die of influenza every season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A strong health plan flu immunization program helps to keep these patients out of our nation’s hospitals, reduces healthcare costs and saves lives. Technology and distribution methodology are the foundational elements for success.
Technology and Convenience Boost Member Engagement
Health plans need to consider their members’ lifestyles and offer immunizations in places where it’s convenient for members—retail pharmacies, company offices, etc. These consumer-friendly locations should be supported by purpose-specific technology to identify, track and manage flu immunization tasks while also encouraging member engagement.
From a technology perspective, health plans can use member data to analyze behavior patterns and determine the most effective communication methods that encourage members to receive vaccinations. Successful flu immunization program distribution deploys models that include vaccination locations outside of the traditional care settings, such as employer health fairs and retail pharmacies. By moving immunizations out to meet the consumer, health plans remove friction in the process and increase uptake for preventive care and member engagement.
Studies confirm that convenience is a top member benefit. One way to give members the freedom to receive necessary covered services in the location most convenient to them—such as the retail location they visit for routine shopping or the retail pharmacy where they pick up prescriptions—is for health plans to use a voucher system. These types of one-stop-shop technology and distribution models connect members to preventive care services including flu immunizations, screenings and other types of vaccinations.
Technology Components to Consider
There are a number of factors for health plans to consider when selecting a technology partner to launch an immunization program. A focus on flexibility, customer support, and reporting options are needed to create a positive experience for members. That’s vitally important for current as well as future prevention initiatives. Look for technology that:
– Manages all aspects of the immunization program – from scheduling and participant engagement to timely completion reporting.
– Uses consumer analytics and engagement applications to strategically engage noncompliant members to complete vaccinations.
– Delivers detailed, timely reporting on who has completed their immunizations.
Psychographic profiling technology should also be incorporated within the platform to assist the health plan in building unique, personalized communications for their members. Psychographic data offers insights on how to best reach members: channel preferences, message content, and frequency of messaging are all used to augment the member profiles.
This information is brought together with other aggregated data to create a composite profile of the member including such data as pharmacy fills, claims data and point-of-care test results. It is important to include dates, times and locations of test results such as HbA1c, blood pressure, hip/waist circumference, blood glucose, height/weight, FIT testing, BMI and cholesterol/lipids.
Finally, once the immunization services are rendered, the information should be communicated back to the health plan, further building out the behavioral profile of the member.
Member-Friendly Flu Immunizations
As flu season quickly approaches, aligning preventive care goals with new, comprehensive solutions that increase the likelihood of member compliance will be on the radar of healthcare payers. And if those solutions also increase member satisfaction by seamlessly factoring in preferences and existing behavior, it’s a win-win for all involved.
About Andrew Reeves
As BioIQ’s chief operating officer, Andrew has responsibility for all client-facing functions across the organization, including the marketing, product, sales, client success, and sales enablement teams. Prior to joining the BioIQ team, he held a number of leadership positions at Cigna throughout his 12-year tenure.