By Jackie Sciaudone | Oct. 10, 2018

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We are approaching that time of year again – flu season. You’re probably thinking, there’s no way, summer just ended. Well, according to the Center for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC), outbreaks can start as early as October and it takes about two weeks for the flu vaccination to set in.

Every year, the flu costs the United States about $10.4 billion in hospitalizations and outpatient visits. During the flu season, your healthcare organization will likely see an increase in sick patients, especially if you serve children, or those over 65 years of age. It’s estimated that 71-85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths occur in people over 65 years of age. Because of this, the CDC stresses the importance of education about flu season preparations among older patients, but also with healthcare personnel.

Below, we’ve outlined some simple ways that your healthcare facility can prepare for the upcoming flu season.

  1. Educate Patients
    Informing patients about the importance of flu shots – such as when and how to get them – is crucial this time of year. Whether it’s having a conversation about vaccinations, or pointing patients to the right resources, communication about the risks, options, and details is a great start. Many patients don’t know the factors that determine which type of flu shot you receive; such as age, health, and allergies. These are important details that doctors should communicate to better advocate flu shots in their patient population.
  2. Incorporate Automated Messaging
    Sending automated reminders to your patients is a simple and easy way to communicate when they are due for a vaccination. With the right messaging tool, you can send out mass messages via email, text, or phone in just minutes. What’s more, your healthcare facility can send out reminders and updates about upcoming flu-shot clinic days. This can not only help to encourage flu shots among patients, but also to promote stronger patient-provider relationships.
  3. Utilize Electronic Health Record  
    Electronic Health Records (EHRs) help healthcare providers better manage care for patients by providing accurate, up-to-date information in an efficient and coordinated way. The information that can be pulled in from your EHR can help identify which patients have yet to receive not only the flu vaccine, but vaccinations in general. This a proactive approach to reach out to your patients and ensure they are aware when they are due for vaccinations. What’s more, utilizing EHRs will make it easier for data entry of patients by nurses and staff.

As a healthcare organization, the importance of being prepared for flu season is vital to your overall patient population health. Take the necessary steps now to ensure that both you and your patients are educated and prepared for the upcoming flu season. All of this might seem a bit overwhelming, but don’t worry, you don’t have to do it alone. See how we can help!

Jackie Sciaudone

Author: Jackie Sciaudone

Jackie Sciaudone is a Digital Marketing Intern at Stericycle Communication Solutions. She is focused on digital strategy for social media platforms. Jackie currently is a senior at Ball State University, where she studies marketing and Spanish. Her favorite pastimes include traveling, fashion, and all things golf related.