STChealth partners with Pharmacies and Public Health To Combat COVID-19
In the first week of March, 1.6 million immunization events were captured by STChealth’s National Immunization Data Exchange Network. These events were measured by monitoring the throughput of immunizations being reported to state immunization systems. STChealth CEO, Michael Popovich indicated that STC’s National Immunization Data Exchange Network currently connects 31,000 pharmacies to every state’s Public Health Information System.
Mike said, “We found that when we looked at the second week in March, the total number of immunizations being reported went down to 700,000, and the third week decreased to 500,000. This points to the likelihood that pharmacies are focusing on serving the needs of their customer through their prescription efforts, as well as decreasing store walk-in retail shopping as individuals become more aware of social distancing.”
But most interesting was the fact that there was an actual percentage increase in flu shots administered compared to previous years. In March 2019, the seasonal flu vaccination represented 70% of all vaccinations administered at pharmacies within our network. In March 2020, the flu vaccine represented 75% of all shots given, showing a 5% increase despite overall vaccinations going down.
Kristen Hutchinson, RN, STChealth’s retail pharmacy lead provided a view into what can be expected when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. “You will see not only the demand for any new vaccine jump off the charts, but you will also see the demand increase for traditional vaccines, with influenza and pneumonia at the front of the line. Pharmacies need to be electronically connected to public health through this national network to report and know what immunizations their customers need.”
She reiterated that as retail pharmacies begin to support testing for COVID-19 along with their traditional screening programs, the value of being connected to public health systems will increase their value to customers.
Throughout our 32 years as members of the immunization ecosystem, STChealth has developed public health immunization systems that are used across the United States, and internationally. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, STChealth is facilitating public-private partnerships to prepare for a new vaccine, the roll-out of home and pharmacy COVID-19 tests, and support of programs to ensure traditional immunization wellness visits. STChealth provides analytics and tools for clinical providers, pharmacies, payors, and Public Health to identify at-risk populations for vaccine preventable disease. STChealth’s National Immunization Data Exchange Network reports over 1 million immunization events daily, providing valuable information to Public Health organizations and decision support to providers, ultimately resulting in immunization gaps being closed for patients.