Simple Changes Give Clinic's Immunization Rates a Booster Shot

Simple Changes Give Clinic's Immunization Rates a Booster Shot

Sep 22, 2014 10:01 AM

(SALT LAKE CITY)—The increasing number of necessary childhood immunizations can be hard for even medical professionals to remember to administer.  But a new study shows how implementing reminders for medical staff can greatly improve early childhood immunization rates. 

“Immunizations seem very simple, but they are much more complicated,” said Kyle Jones, M.D., clinical instructor of family and preventative medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine.  “We take them for granted, even though they save the health care system millions of dollars each year and prevent disease in everyone’s daily lives.”

The study, published in the September edition of Family Medicine, followed a third-year resident’s continuous quality improvement project (CQI), which aimed to increase early childhood immunizations in a Salt Lake City-based clinic.  A daily reminder was administered and a report with the immunization record for that day’s pediatric patients was printed and provided to the physician or medical assistant on duty. The medical team was then able to ensure all vaccinations were up-to-date while visiting with patients.

What started as a simple reminder quickly led to a jump from a 66 percent to a 91 percent immunization rate among children under age 2 within only six months.

“Using that rate, we can estimate that if this change was implemented in more clinics, we could save millions of dollars and prevent diseases that could impact children, their families, and the greater community in the future,” Jones said.

The study additionally showed the importance of having strong CQI programs within medical schools.  While Jones pointed out that the School of Medicine’s Department of Family and Preventative Medicine is a national leader in CQI education and does a great job creating leaders in quality improvement care, he hopes other programs also take note and place emphasis on CQI education.

“For the medical community, this study proves we need to be doing a better job of training students and residents in continuous quality improvement methods,” Jones said.  “For the world, this shows how small changes in medical care can actually make a huge difference.”

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A copy of this study can be found through Family Medicine online at http://www.stfm.org/FamilyMedicine/Vol46Issue8/Jones631

 

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