On October 28th, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the Fourth COVID-19 Interim Final Rule with Comment Period, or IFC-4. The final rule was drafted by CMS, the Department of Labor, and the Department of the Treasury to anticipate a COVID vaccine being ready for distribution before the end of the year. CMS and the government entities detailed the coverage that group health plan and health insurance-holding people will have if they choose to receive the vaccine.
With a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved vaccine on the horizon in record time, Lightbeam’s Clinical Transformation team is gearing up to help prepare care management clients develop vaccine initiatives. Undoubtedly, there will be more information in the coming months on the vaccine to better hone these strategies. Still, preparing in advance will help foster efficient vaccination processes when the time finally comes. Here are some steps to equip care teams early for the vaccination the world has been waiting for.
Foster education on immunizations.
In August, Lightbeam Clinical Transformation Advisor Christine DiNoia, BSN, RN, discussed National Immunization Month on the Population Health Podcast and in a blog post on The Beacon. She talked about the different phases of clinical trials that all FDA approved vaccines go through to be disseminated to the public, how they are monitored, and how anyone can submit a report to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) if they experience negative side effects.
The best thing that care team members and other clinical providers can do is to encourage dialogue with patients while they are in the exam room and point them to reliable resources for further research on their own. The truth is that without immunizations, dangerous diseases will never be controlled or eliminated altogether. In the cases of COVID and the flu, certain groups are at a much higher risk for hospitalization and death. Calm their nerves, answer questions, and have some reading material to send home with them.
Prepare care teams.
When there is finally a vaccine that healthcare facilities have the green light to administer, care teams should already know their roles and duties. Care team leaders and organization champions should ensure all staff members are on the same page with safe vaccine administration. Whether that means the team meets several times before the vaccine arrives, leaders schedule one-on-one phone calls or send emails, or informative posters are printed and hung around the office, pick the right way that works for the organization. An initiative of this scale and importance demands open communication; staff should feel they can ask questions and address any concerns along the way.
Build out cohorts.
Immunizations are among the most critical, basic forms of preventative care for any patient. As with other vaccination initiatives, care managers should begin building out cohorts of patients that are elderly, high-risk, or battling comorbid chronic conditions and are especially vulnerable.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) released preliminary information on how they are making COVID-19 vaccine recommendations based on the input they have received from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), “a federal advisory committee made of up of medical and public health experts who develop recommendations on the use of vaccines in the U.S. public.” If the vaccine’s initial supply is limited, the recommended groups to receive it are healthcare staff, essential workers, high-risk people with underlying conditions, and people over the age of 65. Our Clinical Transformation department is instructing our client’s care teams to perform thorough identification and segment their patients by age, risk, and comorbidities and assign care managers to outreach.
Make outreach plans.
Once the entire team has identified and segmented patients for outreach, they can now decide the best way to contact them. Besides knowing the most responsive forms of outreach for a given group, like mailed letters, phone calls, emails, and other engagement tactics, a team should first identify the barriers that cohort members may face to prevent vaccination. Lightbeam’s population health management platform contains a social determinants of health (SDOH) form from the National Association of Community Health Centers’ (NACHC) Protocol for Responding to and Assessing Patients’ Assets, Risks, and Experiences (PRAPARE) tool. The form integrates with the Lightbeam Cohort Builder, an application that separates patients into concentrated groups and connects to the enterprise data warehouse (EDW) for tasking, care management, and patient engagement.
Hopefully, the public will have more information on the vaccine soon, and care teams can strategize even further. For more information on Clinical Transformation with Lightbeam, the division of Advisory Services comprised of clinically trained professionals, email email@example.com.
Jessica Scruton, BSN, RN, CCM is Lightbeam’s VP of Clinical Transformation.