Taking another shot—this one for the flu

Blacks and Latinos have significantly lower rates of vaccination against the flu, according to federal data. During the 2019-20 flu season, 53% of Whites received a shot compared with 41% of Blacks and 38% of Hispanics.

Earlier this year, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center launched an initiative to address this problem, setting a target of 45.1% above national benchmarks. At deadline, they were at 38.8%.

Dr. Aaron Clark, medical director of the Ohio State Health Accountable Care Organization, has some advice on how to do the same at your organization.

How to get started?

Target an area of disparity and set reasonable goals.
Form a cross-disciplinary (emergency department, specialty, primary care and clinics) work group and engage internal units to redesign workflows to facilitate flu shots.
Task nurses to call homes in target ZIP codes to inform Black and Hispanic populations of the benefits of getting the flu shot.
Develop culturally sensitive communication to engage patients in a more meaningful way in communities of color.

What skill sets do you need to make this happen?

We included physicians, nurses, pharmacists, communications/marketing, community outreach, supply chain, IT analytics and hospital administration all in a core work group leading and driving this initiative, with senior executive sponorship.

What kind of impact do you see this having on short- and long-term goals?

The goal is to bake into our processes, workflows and initiatives an ongoing awareness of the existence and importance of health disparities. The influenza immunization project was just a start.

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