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Three ways healthcare executives can uncover consumers at risk for flu


With influenza activity increasing sharply, here’s how healthcare executives can determine which health plan members are at risk for the flu.

Epidemiologists in 36 states have reported widespread influenza activity to CDC, according to new data. During December 17 to 23, 2017, influenza activity increased sharply in the United States.

Welltok recently conducted analysis to get a better understanding of who is more likely to get the flu and who would be most receptive to a flu shot message, so managed care executives can focus their outreach programs and get the best results.

Welltok combined its proprietary data on more than 275 million Americans with conventional clinical and claims data, and created predictive models to identify consumers with a greater risk of getting and spreading the flu.

Among the findings:

  • Homeowners are slightly less likely to have a flu diagnosis.

  • Consumers living in a multifamily home or mobile home are more likely to have a flu diagnois.

  • Consumers in a household with two or more females are slightly more likely to get sick.

  • Males are less likely to have a flu diagnosis (potentially due to men most likely not seeking medical care).

  • Consumers who paid more taxes are less likely to have a flu diagnosis.

  • People over age 65 years with COPD are 162% more likely to be hospitalized due to flu-related illness.

  • People who have experienced a stroke or heart failure have over a 100% higher likelihood of being hospitalized due to flu-related illness.

“Understanding who is more likely to get the flu and encouraging members to get the flu vaccine is a top priority for managed care executives,” says April Gill, vice president of analytics solutions at Welltok. “These findings can help managed care executives understand who they should be targeting with their flu campaigns and where they can have the greatest impact, including better member experience and increased outreach efficiency.” 

The analysis also revealed common misconceptions and consumers’ top excuses for not getting the flu shot by generation, including:

  • “I’m healthy and don’t need the flu shot” (37% of Millennials)

  • “The flu shot doesn’t work”  (17% of Millennials)

  •  “The flu shot will give me the flu” (32% of Gen Xers)

According to Gill, here are the top three things healthcare executives need to remember about the flu season:

  • While the CDC recommends flu shots at the beginning of the season, it’s not too late to get consumers vaccinated from the virus and realize cost savings (reduced illness and hospitalization, etc.).

  • Combining consumer and clinical data can pinpoint consumers who are at risk and would be receptive to a flu shot message. Some health plans reported 80% to 90% reach rate by using a targeted approach.

  • The right channel and message is critical-being able to reach consumers where they are with their preferred channel of communication, and overcoming any barriers they may face will deliver optimal results.

Based on the analysis, here are four recommendations for healthcare executives:

  • Make health literacy a focus by ensuring members understand why it is important to get a flu shot, use consumer-friendly language and allow the process to be easy for them. “For example, a subset of Medicaid members provided advice on how to access flu clinics, drove 65% of those reached to get a flu shot,” says Gill.

  • Leverage data and analytics to identify these target populations for outreach. According to Gill, target individuals who are at the highest risk for catching the flu and determine which populations are most receptive to getting the flu shot allowing health plans to narrow their focus and strategy.

  • Take a multichannel communications approach to reach members where they are (i.e., email, phone, text). Gill cites one commercial plan experienced nearly 90% reach rate by using two methods of communications to individuals with chronic disease, and 56% of those reached in a follow up call reported they received a flu shot.

  • Use incentives to help motivate members to get the flu shot (within CMS regulations). “For example, by offering their population with a financial incentive, one organization was able to motivate an additional 18% more individuals to getting a flu shot,” says Gill.  


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