What’s the best approach to patient communication for Covid-19 vaccines? [Sponsored]

It is an incredible achievement that less than one year after the Covid-19 virus was identified, we now have a growing arsenal of vaccines to combat the virus. However, the irony is that this unprecedented rapid vaccine rollout is the very reason why people are hesitant to get vaccinated. According to data from Gallup, an estimated 34 percent of people say they are reluctant to get a Covid vaccine and 26 percent want to wait until they are assured of the vaccines’ safety. 

A new white paper from  WELL™ Health offers suggestions on how to best communicate with patients to address their concerns about vaccines so that they feel comfortable getting vaccinated to improve the likelihood of ending the pandemic

One recommendation outlined in the white paper is for hospitals and other healthcare providers to use automated text messages to reassure their patients and inform them about vaccine safety.

Here’s an example:

The Covid-19 vaccine is now available. This vaccine, which has two doses, is critical in saving lives, stopping the spread of coronavirus, and ending the pandemic. You can learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and its safety at (insert appropriate link). We will soon be contacting patients who are eligible to receive the vaccine. In the meantime, please text us with any questions or to speak to your healthcare provider to learn more.

Another recommendation is that providers text patients after each dose is administered to ensure that patients receive both doses of the vaccine. Given that some people experience side effects such as pain in the inoculated arm, this can be vital in the push to build vaccine confidence by properly informing patients that side effects can be normal.

Providers must also collect vital information about patient reactions to the vaccines. Have they experienced any adverse events? Did they notice any side effects or unexpected symptoms? Are they aware that a second dose is required? Providers should follow up with patients within 24 hours of the first and second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine through automated text messaging and with workflows, dependent on patient responses to basic prompts.  

One of the challenges of a two-dose vaccine regimen is compliance. According to a research study on the two-dose hepatitis B vaccine, about 50% of patients never return for the second vaccination. 

To improve the likelihood of patients returning for the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, the white paper recommends prompting patients to schedule their second appointment during or immediately after their first appointment. If the provider organization can’t reschedule the second dose immediately, they are advised to text the patient 14 days after the first appointment, so there is ample time to book the next appointment before the second dose is due. Another messaging option is to frequently remind patients of the importance of the second dose even if they have already scheduled it.

A reality of medical appointments is that an estimated one in five patients don’t keep them for a variety of reasons.  But with simple, targeted and automated text messaging, providers can uncover the cause of no-shows, reduce their negative impact on staffing, and cut down on the likelihood of missed appointments in the future. Reducing Covid-19 vaccination no-shows will ensure that more patients receive this life-saving treatment in a timely fashion.  

Here’s an example of automated text messaging:

We did not see you at your scheduled appointment for the Covid-19 vaccine today. Would you like to reschedule? (Y/N?) 

YES: INSERT MESSAGE 

NO: Can you tell us why you are declining? Please select from the list below: 

  1. I would like to discuss more with my healthcare provider 
  2. I am awaiting more safety information 
  3. I am worried about the side effects 
  4. I already received my vaccine someplace else 
  5. Other 
  6. I’d rather not say

To learn more, fill in the form below to download WELL™ Health’s ebook, Top 10 Best Practices for Covid-19 Patient Communication 

Photo: LarisaBozhikova, Getty Images

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