Flu Season is Upon Us — Here’s How You Can Prevent a ‘Twindemic’

As the country grapples with combating the coronavirus, millions of citizens must prepare themselves for the oncoming flu season. During regular years, influenza puts thousands of people in the hospital. When combining the danger of the novel coronavirus and the upcoming waves of influenza cases, it is more important than ever to get a flu shot this year.

While we are still waiting for a vaccine against the coronavirus to be produced, we have the ability to protect ourselves by obtaining a flu shot. Along with encouraging U.S. citizens to receive their flu shot, healthcare clinics must take an active role in tracking vaccinations. Iron Bridge—the leading experts in healthcare interoperability—explores the importance of encouraging flu shots and tracking new cases in the upcoming months. 

Reducing the Risk of Experiencing a “Twindemic”

Getting vaccinated is key to ensuring healthcare organizations can balance both flu season and the pandemic

bottles of flu vaccines

During the months of December and January, hospitals tend to fill up with influenza patients. But when you add the mix of COVID-19 patients already filling many of the beds, you are forced to reckon with a potential strain on the healthcare system. 

The fact that citizens are likely going to be spending most of their time indoors puts them at a higher risk of developing either the coronavirus or the flu. That’s why so many political leaders and medical experts are already encouraging people to get their annual flu shots. Even if a COVID-19 vaccine debuts this year, most of the population will not have immediate access to it. But because we do have a flu vaccine, it’s important to take advantage of it. 

What Can We Expect This Winter?

Because the coronavirus and the flu present similar symptoms, patients will inevitably have trouble determining whether or not they have either viruses. They will likely want to test themselves for the coronavirus, which can end up stretching testing limits. 

As of now, experts aren’t sure how “severe” this year’s flu season will be. But if it is, this can wreak havoc on the healthcare system. To prevent the onset of a devastating flu season, U.S. citizens must continue to practice social distancing, stay inside when possible, maintain proper sanitary practices, and obtain their flu shot, ideally, by October 31st. People can receive flu shots at a number of different places, such as their local pharmacy, urgent care center, or community health center. 

Tracking Influenza and Coronavirus Cases in the Country

Using a tracking system with healthcare interoperability can help healthcare providers track outbreaks

united states map

Tracking flu and coronavirus outbreaks in specific areas is beneficial for both hospitals and residents. Companies like Johns Hopkins and Google Maps have already built platforms for tracking the novel coronavirus in certain areas. Residents who know that there is an outbreak in their area can take extra precautions when going out and follow extra steps to avoid developing the flu or coronavirus, such as practicing frequent hand washing and only leaving the house when necessary. This winter, both medical professionals and citizens need to keep an eye on these tracking systems.

Public Health and Specialized Registries for Tracking Cases

Iron Bridge offers a sophisticated IT solution for reporting immunizations

medical professional typing on computer

When it comes to recording patient data and tracking their immunizations, you want to use a sleek and reliable tech solution. The Pub Hub 2.0 by Iron Bridge allows you to use crucial registry data to assess the immunization needs of your patients. Once you enter flu vaccine records for each of your patients, this data is sent to immunization registries designed to determine which percentage of the local population is protected from outbreaks, such as the flu. 

It’s important to note that immunization registries are managed on a statewide basis. In other words, each state is responsible for its respective registry. The Pub Hub 2.0 connects these respective registries, making it easier than ever for healthcare professionals to access critical immunization records from around the country. Healthcare systems like the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and South Dakota Immunization Program have already integrated the Pub Hub 2.0 into their operations to accommodate their healthcare interoperability needs.  

In order to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, we need to follow safety guidelines on combating the spread of the coronavirus as well as vaccinate ourselves against influenza. Because of the upcoming flu season, the winter months are going to be difficult for the nation. Recording immunizations in streamlined registries can help healthcare providers determine the immunization needs of their patients and also keep track of coverage rates across the country.

Are you looking for an efficient healthcare solution like healthcare interoperability to help your practice prepare for the upcoming flu season? Contact the team at Iron Bridge today!

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