Integrating Preventive Education Tools into Retail Health Websites

Jeannette Y. Wick, RPh, MBA, FASCP
Published Online: Thursday, February 1st, 2018
Every well-educated health care provider in the United States knows that patient uptake of preventive services is for the most part inadequate. This is a particular problem among adults. Typical barriers include inability to understand health literature, poor access to primary care, and inconvenience.
The US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has removed cost-sharing requirements in an attempt to increase vaccine uptake among adults.

DHHS took another action, creating an Internet-based tool called MyHealthFinder. This tool has won numerous awards for its readable, helpful prevention and wellness information. In May 2015, CVS's Minute Clinic worked with DHHS to integrate MyHealthFinder into the CVS Pharmacy and Minute Clinic websites. The goal was to determine if doing so would increase consumer understanding and uptake of preventive care services. The results of this partnership, published in the journal Healthcare, indicates that this personalized patient education tool increased influenza vaccine uptake.

The researchers integrated the MyHealthFinder tool into websites in certain states but not in others. They looked at mean changes in influenza, pneumococcal, and hepatitis a vaccine uptake, as well as uptake of diabetes screening, cholesterol screening, and tobacco cessation counseling.

Patients made 39,225 website visits to sites that included MyHealthFinder and received 13,688 personalized recommendations for preventive services.

Patients who viewed the website were slightly more likely to have pneumococcal vaccines administered, but those who received emails were no more likely to receive pneumococcal vaccine than others. Patients who were emailed regarding flu were significantly more likely to have an influenza immunization, with vaccines increasing 5% in this category.

The researchers explained the lack of change for other vaccines and services as related to the narrow population for whom these vaccines are indicated. They also noted that the study started in May, when the influenza vaccine had not yet been released, suggesting that uptake would have been greater if they had started the study closer to the flu season.

According to the researchers, they hope to improve their timing and the relevance of each message in future studies to increase patient uptake. Retail health care providers might consider directing patients attention to MyHealthFinder as a means of encouraging them to seek preventive care.

Polinski JM, Harris LM, Shrank WH, Sussman A, Barron J. Impact of a patient engagement tool on preventive service uptake. Healthc (Amst). 2017 Dec 21. pii: S2213-0764(16)30241-X. doi: 10.1016/j.hjdsi.2017.12.002. [Epub ahead of print]

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