When It Comes to Immunizations, How Many Patient Touchpoints Are Needed?


Even if you don’t feel like reading this, print this out and share it with everyone and anyone:
View this article in PDF format>>>

Over the past several years, there have been many continuing discussions among pharmacy stakeholders
related to, where during workflow should the immunization conversation take place? The classic assertion in the world of marketing says that it takes 7 “touches” to persuade a customer to make a purchase decision. How might that apply to “selling” a pharmacy patient on an immunization? As the preferred immunization intelligence vendor in the pharmacy market, Scientific Technologies Corporation (STC) is looking at several opportunities and how the conversations differ.

In fall 2015, the APhA Foundation teamed up with 8 community pharmacy sites to determine the effectiveness
of a point-of-care “up-sell.” When patients asked for a flu shot, the pharmacist checked with the state Immunization Information System (IIS), using STC’s ImmsLink data, to identify additional vaccination needs. A total of 1080 patients were included in the study. Of those, the pharmacists found 1334 eligible vaccinations that were due. Of the 1344 additional vaccinations needed, a total of 447 were given during the study, more than 95% administered by the pharmacist at the point of that initial conversation and flu shot. That is a 41.4% increase in the number of vaccinations over the flu shots alone.

Jeff Key and his colleagues at PioneerRx are among the many who are fine-tuning the pre-visit touchpoint. Josh Howland of PioneerRx described the interaction this way: “The pharmacist calls the patient the week before the prescriptions are to be picked up, and they can say, ‘I see you need your flu vaccination. Why don’t you come at 3 next Tuesday, and we’ll get that taken care of.’ The pharmacist picks a time when it’s not rushed for the patient or the pharmacist, so there will be time for a meaningful interaction.” Now we have the opportunity to take this a step further by combining registry data with other sources, such as OminSYS’s OmniLINK Vaccine Management Solution. If pharmacists are armed with greater data accuracy and confidence will they give more immunizations? “During the most recent immunization season we had over 20,000 pharmacies utilizing VMS to target Medicare patients eligible for pneumococcal vaccinations. Participating pharmacies realized significant statistical improvements in their immunization rates, with 1 out of 4 flu shot patients receiving the appropriate companion pneumococcal vaccine, said John King, chief executive of OminSYS. “The partnership with STC advances our OmniLINK data set, allowing us to offer an expanded scope of vaccine-related services.”

What if the pharmacist did not have to start the conversation? What if patients knew what vaccines they were missing, which shot in a series they were due for, and at what age they or a family member were eligible for a new vaccine? It is happening at Bartell Drug Company in Washington State. Since launching with MyIR in 2015, Bartell has given more than 5000 pharmacy patients direct access to their official state immunization record through an online account. Through this portal, patients can be educated about specific vaccinations, reminded of series that need completing, and pushed messages via text or email when a new vaccination opportunity is identified. A 2017 survey done by STC demonstrated the satisfaction patients felt with this “power,” including this response: “I have a unique experience with MyIR because I am both a parent and the school administrator that does the immunization reporting for our school. Each year, I see parents fumble through their records, call their doctor’s offices for updates, and scramble at the last minute to get immunizations updated for their children. MyIR makes it easy!” STC’s bilateral immunization network supports more than 35,000 pharmacies. Recognizing that the delivery of immunizations in pharmacies significantly differs from that of the traditional medical office, they are working with a variety of partners and pharmacies to
develop innovative solutions that reach patients at many touchpoints. So, we can return to where we started with the question, where during workflow should the immunization conversation take place? Well, the answer has become clear: Everywhere!