‘Tis The (Flu) Season

October 19, 2020 Editor

“I opened the door and influenza.” Okay, that’s a terrible pun, but an amusing way to welcome a very un-amusing time of year: flu season.

Flu season is back for its annual and always unwelcome return visit – as if our healthcare system really needed another test of its mettle. Compounding this always-challenging time of year is the fact that the coronavirus will not be stepping aside so caregivers can move their focus squarely to the flu. Both flu and COVID-19 will be significant challenges this winter. It’s the proverbial double whammy that no plan or provider is looking forward to.

Making a tough situation still tougher, the flu and COVID-19 share a number of the same symptoms, blurring the lines of which patient may be suffering from one virus or the other. An approved and widely available COVID-19 vaccine will likely not be available until 2021. What we do have now, however, is a flu vaccine that with widespread application can help take one-half of that double whammy out of the equation. The key word there is “now.”

The time is now.

The CDC says that early fall is the time to administer flu vaccines to fend off this late fall-winter onslaught. Plans and providers need to get the word out to their members and patients immediately that a flu shot now will avoid much grief later. That’s not just affecting the health of the patient, but as we’ve seen with the coronavirus, it also affects the very capacity of the healthcare organization itself to provide the care that its population needs and must receive.

Close some care gaps while you’re at it!

With vaccinations administered during this time of the year, you will also be closing some key care gaps that will not only help improve your quality measure scores like HEDIS and MIPS, you will be making some positive headway in health outcomes across the board among your members and patients. 

A case study in care gap and measure improvement

Population health care gap icon

A large academic medical center used SPH Analytics’ Smart Engagement to support an influenza vaccination campaign to close care gaps and achieved impressive results. A first wave of targeted emails was sent to 61,000 patients without documentation of a flu vaccination in the previous 12 months. A second wave of emails was sent to the non-respondents.


  • 7.4% of contacted patients responded affirmatively with the date and location of their current vaccination.
  • There was a 50.4% increase in the number of patients with a documented influenza vaccination from the previous 12 months.
  • The MIPS influenza vaccination measure performance improved from 13.2% (CMS Decile 3) to 40% (CMS Decile 7), for an overall increase of 203%.

Getting the message out now

Time is definitely fleeting! To get the word out specifically to the very audience you want to reach – and to do it right away – enlist SPH’s Smart Engagement to not only get the attention of your unvaccinated patients, but to help motivate them to schedule their flu shots, and understand the overwhelming benefit that the flu vaccine can offer during this vulnerable time in our lives.

Has every member and patient on your rolls received their flu shots this season? We hope so, but probably not. Get the message out to your unvaccinated members and patients right away! Contact us today, and we’ll get your personalized message out to your population in the most targeted, action-inducing way.


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