UNC Health mines through its EHR to target COVID-19 vaccine outreach: 5 takeaways

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Chapel Hill, N.C.-based UNC Health used its EHR to pinpoint vulnerable patients who would be better suited to outreach initiatives over the phone, according to an Aug. 19 study published in JAMA Oncology.

Five takeaways:

  1. The health system mined through its EHR to identify patients who received cancer therapy in the last year with a follow-up appointment scheduled. The goal was to reach patients who do not regularly use electronic communication methods and may be missed by traditional outreach methods.

  2. The team searched for patients who did not have a patient portal account or valid email account on file and lived in a county with a poverty rate above 20 percent.

  3. From January to March, 536 patients matched the criteria to be called. More than 99 percent of these patients were called, with 67 percent of the patients successfully reached. The researchers' approach was to help patients make informed decisions about getting vaccinated, and the average phone call was 4.1 minutes long.

  4. In April, 26 percent of patients who were reached got vaccinated, with another 4 percent scheduled for a vaccine appointment at the health system.

  5. The study concluded that there are potential benefits from using an analytics-based strategy to reach marginalized patients who are at high risk for being excluded by electronic outreach programs.

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