Study: Pharmacist intervention improves shingles vaccine rate
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A new study from researchers at Ohio State University is reporting that older patients who receive written information on shingles were almost three times more likely to get vaccinated than those that didn’t receive a similar communication. The study is also one of the first to show that using a patient’s electronic medical record coupled with pharmacist intervention markedly improves preventative care of shingles over the current standard.
While people over the age of 60 account for more than half of all shingles cases, less than 15% get the vaccination that helps prevent the blistering skin rash, which can cause lingering nerve pain, researchers noted.
The research team, led by Stuart Beatty, a pharmacist with Ohio State’s College of Pharmacy, says that the low vaccination rate is due to a combination of factors including lack of awareness, cost, access to clinics able to store the fragile vaccine and the fact that face-to-face appointments don’t offer enough time to discuss shingles, also known as herpes zoster.
“With older patients, there are usually more pressing health issues to discuss during routine appointments, so herpes zoster falls off the list,” Beatty said. “Plus, as a live vaccine, it’s not appropriate for people with certain illnesses. There usually isn’t time to figure all that out in a regular office visit.”
Neeraj Tayal, an Ohio State Wexner Medical Center general internist on the research team, noted that while the numbers of patients vaccinated may seem small, the study was conducted from 2010 to 2011, a time when the national vaccination average was actually 6%, far lower than today’s average of 15%. Tayal also suggested that despite the overall low vaccination rate, the results challenge the notion that there are too many logistical barriers to this type of effort.
“It took pharmacists a matter of minutes to review the chart and mail out a prescription. This saved the physician time, the patient time, and improved the overall health of our patients,” Tayal said. “By utilizing pharmacists as members of a care team, many perceived logistical barriers were managed and overcome.”
For the six-month study, which was supported by the Ohio State Center for Clinical and Translational Science, Beatty and his team used electronic medical record data to identify more than 2,500 patients over the age of 60 without a documented herpes zoster vaccination. Some were randomized to receive information about shingles via a secure email linked to their online personal health record or a mailed postcard, while others received no information outside what they may have gotten in a routine doctor visit.
Pharmacists reviewed the EMRs of patients who had received emails or mailed information to identify eligible vaccine candidates, and then sent them a vaccination prescription via standard mail, along with a list of local pharmacies that offered the vaccine. Vaccine fulfillment was tracked by reports submitted to the team by local pharmacists.
Patients with an active PHR that received email information on shingles had the highest vaccination rate of 13.2% compared to a rate of 5% for patients with an active PHR that did not receive the email information. For patients that did not have an active PHR but did receive mailed information, the vaccination rate was 5.2% compared to a rate of 1.8% for patients without an active PHR and received no information.
The study was published in The American Journal of Medicine.
Cost has, no doubt, been a factor, with a copay of $90 being required-- even from insured persons 60 years of age or older. But many potential patient/customers, pharmacists and health insurers do not know that federal law and Affordable Care Act regulations prohibit the imposition of cost-sharing requirements with respect to immunizations recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. On June 6, 2008, that Committee publicly wrote: Zoster vaccine is recommended for all persons aged >60 years who have no contraindications, including persons who report a previous episode of zoster or who have chronic medical conditions. If you were previously 60 years of age or older at the time of your immunization and you were charged a co-payment, you might want to consider seeking a refund from your insurer and/or help from your pharmacist in citing this policy. If pharmacists were not aware before, this may be helpful for you to know. Ronald L. Hammerle, Chairman Health Resources, Ltd. Tampa, Florida www.healthresourcesltd.com
CVS/pharmacy’s digital strategy yielding strong results
WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Mobile. It is changing the way in which customers manage their drug store needs whether it be filling a prescription, accessing health resources or buying products, and CVS/pharmacy is aiming to take the lead in today’s digital space with a slew of innovative offerings that are yielding some significant results.
“As a pharmacy innovation company, we are committed to empowering our customers on their path to better health and have put in place an integrated digital strategy to help us serve those customers even better, across all channels and touch points. Delivering a superior mobile experience for CVS/pharmacy is a key part of that strategy, since we know our customers are digitally savvy,” said Brian Tilzer, SVP and chief digital officer, CVS Caremark.
The results? In the last year, traffic on the CVS mobile site and app increased 250%, as consumers increasingly embrace digital and the company continues to enhance its mobile suite to serve as an extension to its bricks-and-mortar stores.
Furthermore, Tilzer added, “Our own data shows steady increases in the number of customers turning to digital tools. Traffic to CVS.com increased 75% from 2012 to 2013. Last year, there were more than a million customers each month that visited CVS.com from a tablet, and that number continues to grow, particularly on mobile devices and tablets. In fact, we saw a large number of our customers transition to mobile this past year; the proportion of our overall traffic originating from mobile devices jumped from 30% in 2012 to more than 50% in 2013.”
Clearly, the increase demonstrates how customers have come to use mobile as an effective way to manage their pharmacy retail needs whether it be filling prescriptions (37% of digital refills are mobile), accessing health resources or performing shopping-related tasks such as buying products and managing their ExtraCare coupons and rewards.
Throughout 2013, the pharmacy retailer worked to enhance and expand its mobile and digital offerings. Among its newest introductions, noted by Tilzer —
- The new Family Vitamin Center. This new health hub on CVS.com is designed to help take the confusion out of the vitamin aisle and features an interactive questionnaire and guidance tools that provide personalized supplement recommendations identifying which options are best suited to address personal wellness goals or health conditions.
- A Drug Information Center designed to empower users by offering detailed information on prescription and non-prescription medications, vitamins and supplements.
- An iPad app designed as a 3-D rendering of the store for intuitive navigation. It has such pharmacy features as voice-activated prescription management and an ExtraCare section that lets shoppers browse available coupons and rewards and digitally send them to their ExtraCare cards with the swipe of a finger.
- A mobile Drug Interaction Checker that was integrated into its mobile retail app. With the app, customers can manage, refill and view prescriptions, redeem savings and rewards, shop, upload photos and more.
Looking ahead, the pharmacy retailer will continue to focus on its digital strategy to deliver a differentiated customer experience.
“In 2014, mobile remains an important part of our digital strategy and we will continue to focus heavily on retail and pharmacy capabilities as well as integration across the enterprise, making it easier for our customers to engage with at any moment and most importantly to help our shoppers lead healthier lives,” Tilzer said.
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Novo Nordisk launches new insulin device
NEW YORK — Novo Nordisk has launched a new insulin pen designed for children with diabetes.
The new NovoPen Echo is the first and only prefilled pen device in the United States that allows for half-unit dosing in combination with a memory function, the company said.
This function not only allows for finer dosing adjustment based on the needs of the child, but will also allow parents to see how much insulin their child has taken and how much time has elapsed since the last dose was administered.
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