SMS Patient Engagement Strategies Increase Flu Shot Uptake

It’s fall, and healthcare organizations have received flu shot orders and seasonal vaccination campaigns are underway. Now’s the time to amplify patient engagement so patients know why flu shot uptake is important this season, and just how easy it is to schedule their appointment.

October 07, 2021

As healthcare teams continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increased need to manage hospital-related volume typically attributed to fall and winter influenza. The concern for a “twindemic”  may motivate some patients to get their annual flu shot and other patients may get a flu shot for the first time. Others, yet, are tentative to add another vaccination to the docket this year and some are concerned about possible interaction with the COVID-19 vaccine. Healthcare organizations can increase flu shot uptake by educating their patients more comprehensively than in past years, connecting with patients via SMS about the benefits of flu vaccine, and by making it easy for patients to get access. 

Why More Patients Need a Flu Shot This Year

Despite the reduction in flu cases in recent seasons, there is increasing urgency to make sure patients are vaccinated against influenza now that social distancing and masking is becoming optional for those vaccinated against COVID-19. According to Lisa A. Grohskopf, MD, Medical Officer in the CDC’s Influenza Division, “We believe flu vaccination is very important in the context of ongoing COVID-19 activity. …We are seeing the return of other common respiratory viruses, so we anticipate that we will experience an annual epidemic of flu this season as we do during most winters. Substantial flu activity occurring at the same time as COVID-19 activity could overwhelm our health care system.” It is for this reason; the CDC recommends flu vaccines for persons nationwide.

In its recent update about flu vaccinations, the CDC made clear that it is safe to receive both the COVID-19 and flu immunizations at the same time. Patients soon to be vaccinated for COVID-19 will benefit from receiving this reminder from their trusted healthcare providers. In which case, a healthcare institution may be able to provide patients with access to both shots on the same day, in the same facility. The added convenience may be a benefit to many patients and can drive uptake. 

Boost Vaccine Communication Effectiveness

Healthcare organizations have already scheduled and may have received, flu shot orders. Seasonal flu shot campaigns are underway. Now’s the time to amplify patient outreach so patients know why getting a flu shot this season is so important, and just how easy it is to schedule their appointment.

If your healthcare organization is experiencing challenges getting patients vaccinated for the flu, consider leveraging your automated patient engagement platform to boost the efficacy of your existing flu shot campaign. Your digital engagement platform can help you efficiently reach thousands of patients via SMS, email and phone. In addition to defining eligibility criteria, your messages will be personalized and be delivered in the patient’s preferred language. Here are five ways you can engage patients via SMS to boost interest, education and adoption of flu shots.

1. Broadcast Education

Send a message to eligible patients reminding them of why it is important to get their flu shots. Include secure links to educational materials like an information sheet from your clinic or educational materials from the CDC.

This is a friendly reminder from Modern Clinic. It’s flu season! Did you know that according to the CDC, patients should consider the yearly flu vaccination as the most important step in protecting against flu and its potentially serious complications? Learn how flu vaccination can reduce illnesses, doctor visits, and missed work and school: We will contact you when flu vaccine appointments are available.

Hello. We see you are scheduled to receive your COVID-19 vaccination at Modern Clinic. Did you know in its recent update about flu vaccinations, the CDC made clear that it is safe to receive both the COVID-19 and flu shot simultaneously? Visit this link to learn why flu shots are an important part of staying healthy this winter:

2. Broadcast Alert 

Notify eligible patients of their treatment options.

The flu vaccine is available for children and adults at Modern Clinic without an appointment. Walk-ins are welcome at our 3rd Street location on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8 am to 3 pm, now until November 2.

3. Self-Scheduling via Epic or Live Connect

Make it easy for patients to schedule their appointment.  

Ready to schedule your annual flu shot? When you have 5 minutes to speak with our scheduling associate, press 1. To decline a flu shot, please respond with “CANCEL.”

Great! We will now call you. After picking up the phone, please wait to be connected to a scheduling associate.

4. Appointment Reminder 

Hello. This is a reminder of your upcoming appointment for flu vaccine, scheduled at Modern Clinic’s 3rd Street location on Monday, October 25, at 8:15 am. Please respond with “1” to confirm, “2” to cancel, and “3” if you would like to reschedule.

5. Post Procedure Follow-Up 

We’re checking in. Our records indicate you received the flu vaccine at Modern Clinic on Monday, October 25. While you may experience mild flu-like symptoms for up to three days, contact the care team if you experience shortness of breath, extreme nausea or fatigue, or persistent redness at the injection site. 

Amplify patient outreach so your patients know why getting a flu shot this season is so important. Intrado’s HouseCalls Pro patient engagement platform helps healthcare organizations connect with more patients more efficiently. Frequent thoughtful messaging to patients helps improve care plan adherence, reduces no-shows, and improves outcomes, all with a reduced burden on the staff. Contact us to learn more.

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