A new pilot study from the American Pharmacists Association Foundation found that when pharmacists are given the right tools to access patient vaccination history, they can significantly improve the number of vaccines administered to the patients they serve.
According the results of the pilot, known as Project IMPACT Immunizations, community pharmacists who had access to a bidirectional State Immunization Information System (IIS) at the point of care were able to improve the number of vaccines administered by 41.1%.
"The results from Project IMPACT Immunizations provide additional validation that pharmacists are an important part of the solution for population health," Benjamin M. Bluml, RPh, Senior Vice President of Research and Innovation for the American Pharmacists Association Foundation, told Drug Topics.
The bidirectional ISS provided participating pharmacists in chain, independent, and specialty community practice settings with a patient's vaccination history. The system also generated patient-specific vaccination forecasts based on Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations for the pharmacists to use.
Once the individual patient history and forecast were provided, Bluml said pharmacists were able to conduct patient assessments, make informed recommendations, and administer any needed vaccines.
"It addressed unmet vaccination needs in a dramatic way," Bluml said.
Based on the results of the pilot, for every patient that came into the pharmacy requesting an influenza vaccine, an additional 1.45 vaccines were forecast as being due at the point-of-care.
In addition, 33.5% of the unmet vaccination needs that were identified during the pilot study were resolved during the six-month study period. In almost all incidences (95.3% of cases), they were administered by a pharmacist at the point-of-care. An additional 4.7% unmet vaccination needs were resolved at a patient-initiated follow-up visit.
For those patients who chose not to receive vaccines at the point of service, pharmacists provided education and recommended following up with other health-care providers.
"Pharmacists conducted patient assessments utilizing information from the forecasted needs, made informed recommendations to patients at the point of care, and worked to identify the best path forward for each patient based on their needs and preferences," Bluml said.
The pilot was conducted across eight community pharmacy practice settings in Washington from October 22, 2015, to March 22, 2016. The study included adult patients who requested an influenza vaccine.
The bidirectional ISS that was used in during the pilot study was supported by the Scientific Technologies Corporation.
Overall, Bluml said he felt the pilot showed the valuable role pharmacists can play in improving the overall health-care of the community.