For a little more than a year, COVID-19 has disrupted our daily lives. Nearly everyone has been affected in some way. Now that several vaccines are available, we are on track to resume regular activities. While it is exciting to know that community members have ready access to COVID-19 vaccines, it is important to understand that lack of education and fear about the newly developed vaccines impact people’s willingness to be vaccinated. In the coming months, it will be critical for healthcare entities to leverage their communication channels to educate their patients and make scheduling a vaccine appointment easy. Healthcare entities that prioritize this approach will benefit from an improvement in vaccine uptake.
Patient Discomfort Impacts Vaccine Rates
During late-2020, prior to the vaccine being publicly available, an online study was done to determine how people felt about the vaccine, if they would choose to get vaccinated and when. According to the results, as recorded by a recent Medical Economics article,
“About 50 percent of respondents indicated they would get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, 10 percent of respondents say they intended not to be vaccinated,
and 40 percent said they were probably not going to get vaccinated or would be but not as soon as possible.”
Of the 40% that indicated they would “probably not” get the vaccine, some expressed discomfort. Often discomfort comes from not understanding the benefits and concerns about a topic. Study author Daniel Salmon Ph. D. recognizes this disparity and shares, “we're going to be left with as many as 40 percent that are unsure, so we need to start working with them now.” Providing education to the community can reduce discomfort. Additionally, as more members of the community become vaccinated, comfort levels will likely increase.
Vaccine Education with Minimal Staff Burden
Sometimes notifying at scale can be burdensome on healthcare staff. However, with the right communications toolset, there is little to no burden on staffers. Healthcare entities can leverage their digital notifications platform to deliver SMS broadcast education, initiate patient recall, and provide easy scheduling options.
What are the Right Messages?
Adults and adolescents respond well to a variety of messaging tactics. Healthcare providers can increase the likelihood of timely engagement by leveraging multiple touchpoints. Here are the types of messages that encourage patients to act:
- Educational: Teach community members about the success rates of the vaccine.
- Confident: Inform patients about how many members of their community have been vaccinated.
- Convenient: Share how fast and easy the process is.
- Trustworthy: If you have local providers that have researched the vaccine and its effectiveness, include their learnings and endorsement in your outreach.
- Honest: Encourage open and honest dialogue about the patient’s concerns.
What are the Most Effective Appointment Setting Options?
After sharing educational information, provide community members with the opportunity to schedule a vaccine appointment. Three appointment setting options that have proven successful for leading healthcare entities include:
- Phone: Including a phone number for setting a vaccine appointment within education materials.
- Web Link: Providing, via email or SMS, a link to a scheduling website.
- Text Message: Giving the patient the ability to self-schedule right from their text message.
We encourage your team to evaluate and leverage your digital automation toolset. While there will still be people who choose not to vaccinate, by taking steps to provide meaningful education and simple appointment setting, you can be sure vaccine uptake will increase in your community.
To learn more about Intrado COVID-19 vaccination solutions, click here.