Money & Business

Healthcare Provider Groups Collaborate to Protect Seniors Against Flu

By / Dec 7, 2017 (fstop123/Getty Images Plus)

To protect seniors against the flu, a collection of healthcare provider groups and a vaccination supplier joined together on the Be FLUent campaign.

It’s influenza season—and as always—seniors are among the populations most at risk from serious complications from the flu. To help keep them safe, the American Nurse Practitioners Foundation, the American Pharmacists Association, and the PA Foundation, along with influenza vaccination company Seqirus, are joining together on the Be FLUent campaign.

“The older adult population is at greater risk of flu and/or flu related complications that could result in hospitalization,” said Lynette Sappe-Watkins, executive director of the PA Foundation.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 71 and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people ages 65 and older, while 54 to 70 percent of flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among that population. “But, despite the well-publicized risks that flu poses for older adults, U.S. flu vaccination coverage among this group has stalled,” said the groups’ recent news release.

“It’s important to remember that influenza is seasonal, and vaccines are recommended but voluntary,” Sappe-Watkins said. “Easy-to-access resources that make having the patient conversation easier results in patients who can make informed decisions about their healthcare.”

To keep that vulnerable population safe, the organizations have convened their unique expertise, skills, and experiences on resources, available online and in print versions from each of the partners. These resources offer the latest clinical recommendations and tools to help healthcare providers speak with patients about the importance of flu prevention, such as getting the flu shot.

“Each healthcare provider group sees high-risk patient groups and the likelihood of reaching those patients is stronger when their healthcare providers are sensitive to the issues and prepared with tools to communicate effectively to this audience,” Sappe-Watkins said.

The campaign will also feature a healthcare provider podcast, hosted by a physician assistant and a pharmacist, which will be distributed to through the partnering organization’s networks. Healthcare provider-focused social media and email communication to raise awareness and highlight the availability of these resources are another part of the campaign. Plus, seniors can access the resources directed toward them on the partnering organizations’ websites, as well as via a satellite media tour.

Before launching the campaign, the organizations surveyed their members to get an idea of their knowledge concerning seniors and the flu and to learn about the conversations they were currently having with the age 65-plus population. At the end of the flu season, the organizations will reach out with a follow-up survey to determine the effectiveness of the campaign, which will help guide any future initiatives.

“Participating in collaborative campaigns like this one is beneficial for patients,” Sappe-Watkins said. “Ultimately, all healthcare providers want to provide the best possible care for their patients. Having timely resources for healthcare providers to jumpstart an important patient conversation is something the provider community can get behind to improve health and prevent the spread of infectious disease.”

Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. More »

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