Using Data to Re-Humanize Patient Relationships
“Erin Knows Me”

By Dale Dauten, Syndicated Columnist

“The digital camera is a great invention because
it allows us to reminisce. Instantly.”
Demetri Martin

It’s easy to think that technology is dehumanizing, but in the right hands, it turns out to be just the opposite. Take virtual assistant Alexa, for example. Use her and you can’t help but start to think of her as friend, or at least a welcome ally. (Notice the word “her” in that last sentence. I don’t think any regular user would refer to her as “it.”) What if a person had Alexa skills at finding the information you need? You’d want to have that person on your team.

What got me thinking about data friends was talking with Jason Ausili and Erin Graham about how they’ve integrated data into the pharmacist’s workflow. (Jason is VP of Product Development for FDS, Inc. He came up in his career as a pharmacist, then moved to what he calls the “technology solutions side.” Erin is a pharmacist with the Balls Food chain out of Kansas City who’s been using FDS services since 2016.)

Erin says of her work in the pharmacy, “When you have a patient in front of you at the counter, that’s really valuable time. You don’t want to be combing through patient profiles.” And you don’t want to keep asking people questions they’ve already answered. Here’s an example Erin offered:

Before we had FDS services, we would ask everyone, ‘Have you had your flu shot?’ Or pneumonia, or shingles. It was a waste of time to keep asking people about flu shots, especially if you ask, “Have you had your flu shot?” and the patient says, “Yes. Here. Last week.”

Jason points out that, “The Balls Foods team has integrated information into workflow like no other pharmacy. They have put it to work to deliver superior care.” Erin offered this example:

I had a patient come for a blood pressure test. I got an alert that he was not adherent to his blood pressure meds. I asked him how he was taking his medication and he said, “I take it every day.” But then I started talking with him and he added, “I take it every day I go to the gym.” But he only goes to the gym every other day. He explained that he’d heard that working out raises blood pressure so he thought he only needed it those days.

The FDS data has become particularly helpful in identifying candidates for the new shingles vaccine, Shringrix. Erin continues,

We get both initial alerts and follow-up alerts. I’m finding that many of our patients have recently been to see physicians, but it wasn’t brought up. The physicians often have so much to cover in such a short time that they have to prioritize and sometimes vaccines don’t make the list. That can mean that we are the only health care professional to address a vaccine.

And that takes us back to that quote at the top, where Dememtri Martin pointed out how a digital cameras allow us to reminisce… instantly. It’s like that with an ideal data flow for the pharmacist – instant past and instant future, brought together with Alexa-like information access. And that changes the conversation.

Jason remembered back: “When I was a practicing pharmacist the conversations with patients were what made the job worthwhile.” And how much better those conversations can be when the pharmacist isn’t flipping through patient profiles or asking by rote, “Have you had you flu shot?”

Here’s how Erin puts it:

“I know most of my patients by name. And if they know I know who they are, they think, ‘Erin knows me,’ and they look to me for advice and answers to their health care questions.”

Announcing the Winner

By Mike Popovich

At the annual meeting of state public health immunization partners who utilize Scientific Technologies Corporation (STC) Immunization Information Systems (IIS), a highlight of the event was the presentation of awards to states achieving success in building and utilizing their immunization systems to improve their population outcomes.

This year’s awards, named “The Power of Analytics,” were determined by immunization intelligence developed from each state’s IIS data.

The First Place Award for the Highest STC NFS SCORE:

Kelsey Pistotnik accepted the award on behalf of the VacTrak team.

The STC State ranking for National Flu Score™ (NFS) was determined by combining childhood and adult influenza coverage rates for 2017-2018 with this year’s influenza vaccine efficacy rate, then comparing the results to the 2025 US NFS goal. Achieving #1 meant being within 65% of the 2025 goal.



In addition to the highest state NFS Score, the Alaska registry, VacTrak, also had the second highest number of providers in the state utilizing Electronic Health Record Systems (EHRs) to capture patient immunization records electronically.


Monitoring Demographic Diversity

By Bill Davenhall

One of the contributors to the growing complexity of providing any health service, especially vaccination against disease, is the increasing level of racial and ethnic diversity. Since the early 70’s, the US Census Bureau has seen steady population growth patterns among the 14 racial and ethnic groups that the Bureau follows. Many Diversity Indexes are now appearing from within the demographic data “industry” and they all attempt to summarize what is happening in geographic areas such as states, counties, and block groups. Below is a map depicting were diversity within census block groups, or “local” neighborhoods, will be increasing and where it won’t.

Why is this important to know? If you deliver vaccinations in the purple areas, you are likely to be serving a more varied demographic group in terms of its racial and ethnic composition – and that’s becoming more complex.

Delivering any vaccine requires greater knowledge about the “arms” and “bottoms” that vaccines should be going into. Each racial and ethnic group has different utilization patterns in seeking and getting healthcare services, including vaccinations. Understanding the transitions that your state’s “neighborhoods” will experience will have a lot to do with how successful your strategies are, will, or could be to reach even the most modest immunization targets you set.

2023 Diversity Map of US


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