practice management

Successful Strategies for Running a Flu Clinic

Each year pediatricians are charged with the task of vaccinating thousands of patients against influenza. To keep patients healthy, they must administer a very high volume of flu shots during the busiest time of the season, and often, deal with shortages of the vaccine. To add to their challenge, pediatricians must also identify high risk patients as a top priority for vaccination, including those with chronic asthma or other illnesses, as well as ensure payment from insurance companies for their work.

Pediatric practices often employ a number of different tactics in order to vaccinate as many children as possible to keep them healthy throughout the year. Dr. Christoph Diasio of Sandhills Pediatrics in North Carolina, has tried a number of different approaches toward running a flu clinic, and shared some of his most successful strategies.

Identifying strategies that work for your practice

"Like all medicine, there's no one right answer," says Christoph Diasio, MD. "We picked a number of ideas that we thought would work for us. There are many possibilities for running a successful flu clinic."

Sandhills Pediatrics has experimented with a number of different methods over the years including evening clinics, Saturday clinics, and "express lane" clinics; the practice has had success with all three, greatly increasing the number of flu shots administered.

The "Express Lane"

The "express lane" clinic has been one of Sandhills Pediatrics most successful flu clinic ideas, and one he credits to the AAP. In the express lane clinic, the nurse has a separate patient list and her only responsibility that day is to give flu vaccines. The nurse is set up in her own exam room and is able to get patients in and out in just a few minutes. This method prevents the doctor from getting behind and keeps patients from waiting who are just there to receive a quick flu shot.

The Saturday Clinic

While Sandhills Pediatrics has had great success with the express lane clinic, they still do one or two big Saturday clinics per year, said Diasio. For the Saturday clinics, Diasio said they have a tent set up in the parking lot and volunteers on hand to greet patients and guide them inside. The total time the patient spends in the office is less than five minutes. During a four-hour clinic, Diasio says they've been able to give over 400 flu vaccines.

Don't Pass Up an Opportunity

"Part of the problem with flu vaccines, is the high amount you have to give during the busiest time of the season," says Diasio. "I try to give every patient that sees me a vaccine while they are there. Don't pass up an opportunity to immunize or vaccinate. If I have a six year old that comes in to see me for a stubbed toe, and a two year old sibling is in the room, both children will probably leave with a flu shot."

This practice allows him to get in a quick flu shot and save families a second trip to the office for a quick, but important procedure.

The Add-On Form

One of the most successful tools in Sandhills pediatrics' flu season arsenal, is an add-on shot form they developed. The add-on form is a one page paper that combines the billing, charting, and patient release functions all into one form. This form eliminates the need for a super bill, says Diasio, and combines three steps into one. This, in turn, reduces the barrier to being able to give out flu shots on the fly.

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