Patients More Likely To Get HPV Vaccine After Electronic Prompts

Patients More Likely To Get HPV Vaccine After Electronic Prompts

A recent study showed patients are 6 to 10 times more likely to receive an HPV vaccine after electronic health record prompts. According to this study, more patients aged between 9 and 26 years old started and finished cervical cancer vaccine series due to electronic health record “prompts” at doctor appointments. The results were published in the Journal of American Board of Family Medicine.

Mack Ruffin, who is the lead author of the study and professor of family medicine at the U-M Medical School, scientist at the Comprehensive Cancer Center and member of the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, and his team have found that a reminder through electronic health record systems might highly encourage young women to get their HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.

Patients between 9 and 18 years of age were almost 3 times more likely to begin the vaccine process and 10 times more likely to complete the process if their health providers received prompts reminding the appointment. Patients aged 19 to 26 were 6 times more likely to start the vaccine and 8 times more probable of completing it. Further, the rates were significantly higher for young African-American women.

“This age demographic often includes a group of patients that typically don’t go to the doctor as often as other groups unless they are ill. We found that simply alerting patients and providers during an office appointment increased uptake and completion of the HPV vaccine series. Our findings suggest that these prompts through the electronic health system may be a valuable tool in encouraging more people to protect themselves from cancer,” said Mack.

In comparison to others vaccines HPV has the lowest completion rate. Investigators compared data of 6,019 patients whose clinics had prompts set up with 9,096 patients without it. Evidence showed that those in clinics with prompts set up were significantly more likely to complete the vaccine series.

Almost all cervical cancers are due to HPV (human papillomavirus) infections which is the most common sexually transmitted disease, however the participation rates (in the United States) for the HPV vaccine among adolescent women is really low (about 30%). Two-thirds of those that start the series of 3 shots never actually finish it.

The culture and workflow of individual clinics are also critical factors to influence vaccine rates. Also, in order for the vaccination to make any difference, 80 percent of the population has to begin and complete the vaccine series.

“We’re a long way away from achieving the HPV vaccination rates we’d like to see, but our findings potentially identify another valuable step in helping us get closer to our goal,” Ruffin concluded.


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Isaura Santos graduated with a BS in Cell and Molecular Biology from Universidade Nova de Lisboa and a MA in Communication, Culture and Information Technologies from University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE-IUL). Her professional interests include science communication, public awareness of science and communication of science through entertainment.

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