Simple EHR prompt can significantly boost flu vaccination rates

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A simple alert incorporated in a physician's EHR may help increase flu vaccination rates, a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found.

The researchers, from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, examined the effect of a behavioral economics technique, known as active choice, on flu vaccination rates. They programmed EHRs to alert care providers when a patient was eligible for a vaccination. The EHR also prompted the providers to accept or decline a flu vaccination order. If the order was accepted, the patient received the vaccine during the same visit.

The researchers examined vaccination rates across three clinics — one that used the programmed EHRs and two controls. In the control clinics, providers had to manually check to see if a patient was eligible for a vaccination and then place the order.

Within the study period — the 2012-2013 flu season — flu vaccines order in the clinic with programmed EHRs rose by about 37 percent compared to the prior flu season. The flu vaccination rate was also 6 percent higher as compared to the control clinics.

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