Increasing immunization rates focus of new initiative

August 22, 2012

Internists in five states will be part of an American College of Physicians/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention effort to create a 3-year, evidence-based program to increase adult immunization rates.

Internists-750 to 1,000 in 100 practices in five states-will be part of an American College of Physicians (ACP)/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) effort to create a 3-year, evidence-based program to increase adult immunization rates.

The CDC has awarded the ACP an initial $175,000 grant for 2012-13 to create the program.

"Earning this competitive award will help ACP's internal medicine physician members and their practice teams increase adult immunization rates among their patients," says David L. Bronson, MD, FACP, president, ACP. "Providing recommended vaccinations is a core component of preventive healthcare, leading to improved public health, less suffering, fewer deaths, and lower healthcare costs."

Working with ACP state chapters in Arizona, Delaware, Northern Illinois, Maryland, and New York, the program will assist up to 100 internal medicine practices in implementing strategies for improving adult immunization rates toward the federal government's goals for 2020, including seasonal influenza immunization rates of 80% to 90% of adults, depending on risk factors. The current immunization rates for influenza for adults aged at least 18 years are 39.5% in Arizona, 44.9% in Delaware, 36.4% in Illinois, 46.9% in Maryland, and 41.4% in New York.

"This program builds on prior ACP initiatives designed to improve health through encouraging appropriate immunization of adults," says Michael S. Barr, MD, FACP, MBA, who leads ACP's medical practice, professionalism and quality division. "We hope to increase adult immunization rates at participating practices by at least 15%. With an estimated 750 to 1,000 physicians participating in the program, we expect to have a total patient pool of 1.5 to 2 million."

ACP's strategies through the 3-year program to increase adult immunization rates include physician and clinical team education, practice assessment and performance feedback, increasing of provider recommendation of immunization to patients, and implementation of standing order protocols from an attending physician.

Existing ACP resources will be incorporated into the program, including the ACP Adult Immunization Portal, the ACP Guide to Adult Immunization, the ACP Immunization Advisor mobile app, and the ACP Medical Home Builder adult immunization module. Practices in each state will be invited to participate in an educational program and receive onsite support for implementing strategies shown to be effective. The overall program will be guided by an expert advisory panel and leaders from participating states.

"Partnering with ACP state chapters is one of the most exciting aspects of this initiative, permitting us to better support our members at the local and practice level," Dr. Bronson says.

The program will begin in September with the identification and development of materials for physician education and practice assessment and improvement.

The ACP says it plans to sustain adult immunization gains and expand the program among additional practices through the sharing of results, adoption of practice improvements, peer-to-peer support, and resources created by ACP and the CDC.