How Can EHRs Help Healthcare Workers Manage Flu Season?

As if dealing with the coronavirus pandemic isn’t enough, flu season is just around the corner. Typically, healthcare workers see influenza cases rise around October. The full peak of the season usually occurs between December and February. In order to keep up with both flu and COVID-19 cases, healthcare workers will need to make the most out of their current health systems. Using EHR data, medical personnel can predict outbreaks and predict when influenza cases will peak. Learn more about the importance of healthcare integration in our latest blog post now!

What to Expect This Flu Season

Because of the pandemic, tracking vaccinations and cases is more important than ever

pharmacist giving patient a flu shot

This year, getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever. Right now, there is no vaccine or cure for COVID-19. But there is a vaccine for the flu. That’s why it is so crucial for healthcare providers to encourage patients to schedule an appointment for their flu shots this year. By getting a flu vaccine, people can ensure that the healthcare system does not become burdened with both flu and COVID-19 cases. Its medical resources can also be saved for COVID-19 patients. 

Key Differences Between the Flu and the Coronavirus

Educating your patients on the difference between the flu and COVID-19 will also be important. While they are both serious respiratory illnesses, they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by the novel coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2, while the flu is caused by infection from influenza viruses. Distinguishing them can be challenging, as they do share many of the same symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose
  • Headache 
  • Muscle pain

However, patients with COVID-19 might start to experience a loss or change in taste or smell. Blood clots in the veins can also develop from complications. COVID-19 patients don’t usually start to notice symptoms until about five days after infection, while the timeframe for patients with the flu is one to four days. People with COVID-19 might also be contagious for a longer period of time than flu patients. 

Encouraging Patients to Receive Their Flu Shots

Healthcare integration technology makes it easy to remind patients to get their yearly flu shot

person receiving flu shot

When it comes to nudging your patients to get a flu shot, you often have to give them a few reminders. But instead of having your busy staff constantly leave voicemail reminders for your patients, you can automate these reminders through an app or by creating an automated email workflow. 

Using healthcare integration services, you can also document vaccines for all of your patients after they come in for their flu shot. By automating these services, you can cut down on tedious paperwork and save time keeping track of which patients received their flu shot and which ones still need to get one. 

Predicting Outbreaks in Different Areas of the Country

Long ago, healthcare systems did not have an effective method for tracking flu cases and using them to predict outbreaks. Because of this uncertainty, hospitals were susceptible to dealing with shortages in supplies, staffing, and beds. 

But with the help of a streamlined EHR, hospitals can keep track of patients who have visited the hospital for flu-like symptoms. With this data, they can make an educated guess on whether or not these patients received their flu shots. Using the CDC’s weekly updates predicting when and where rates of flu cases might be high, hospitals can also schedule location-specific campaigns for flu vaccinations. 

Tracking Cases with the Pub Hub 2.0

The Pub Hub 2.0 by Iron Bridge makes it easier to manage flu season

pub hub 2.0

Immunization registries play a large part in tracking vaccination rates and tracking the spread of the flu or the coronavirus. With the Pub Hub 2.0, healthcare workers from around the country can use the information submitted, to determine the immunization needs of their patients. 

In order to contribute to their state’s database, staff members submit vaccine documents to its immunization registry. The registry then uses this information to determine what part of the state population is protected from the flu. But since registries are managed by a state-to-state basis, it can be difficult for healthcare providers to seamlessly access ones from organizations outside of their state. This is where the Pub Hub 2.0 comes in. Iron Bridge’s platform allows immunization data from EHRs in different states to seamlessly connect to each other and allow bi-directional access to every immunization registry in the country. 

Healthcare integration and accessible data can be extremely helpful for healthcare workers during flu season. Keeping EHRs up-to-date is especially important for tracking both COVID-19 and influenza cases. We all want our lives to go back to normal, which is why we need to collectively work together to make it happen. Together, we can tackle this year’s flu season head-on and prevent a “twin-demic.” Does your organization need a new system for registering patient data? Contact the experts at Iron Bridge today to schedule a consultation!

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