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March 28, 2017

Study: Doctors, patients more likely to approve flu vaccine when given electronic prompts

Findings suggest method dramatically increased rate of flu vaccine administration

A study aimed at increasing the odds of flu vaccine administration found that doctors and patients were more likely to go through with the vaccine, even administering it on the spot, when electronic prompts were programmed into patients' medical records.

Researchers out of the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine conducted the study at three clinics, with one employing the active choice prompt and the others acting as controls.

The prompt is basically a behavioral economic technique, which works like this: The doctor is alerted when the patient in their care is due for the vaccine and is given an option to accept or deny the administration of the vaccine. In order to accept, they must administer the shot then and there.

According to Penn Medicine, the researchers found the rates of flu vaccine administration rose 37 percent from the prior year at the clinic using the behavior economic technique. It was so successful that the technique has since been put into practice at all internal medicine outpatient clinics across Penn Medicine as of September 2016.

The research, to be published online this month in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, was led by Dr. Mitesh S. Patel, a Penn physician and professor and the director of the Penn Medicine Nudge Unit.

Patel and his team have previously used the active choice technique for other high-value medical screening tests, including colonoscopies and mammographies, with similar promising results.

Read more at Penn Medicine.

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