10 Tips to Prepare Your Pediatric Practice for Flu Season

Flu season can be a challenging time for pediatric practices as they navigate increased patient visits, concerns from parents, and the potential for outbreaks. To ensure your practice is ready to handle the flu season effectively, it’s crucial to take proactive steps and follow the recommended guidelines. In this blog, we’ll provide essential tips and resources to help you prepare your pediatric practice for flu season.

1. Stay Informed and Educate Your Staff

Keeping up-to-date with the latest information on the flu and flu vaccines is fundamental. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers credible resources and guidance on flu prevention and treatment. The site also includes important updates to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) flu vaccine recommendations for the 2023-2024 season. Share this information with your staff to ensure everyone is on the same page.

2. Stock Up on Vaccines

One of the most effective ways to prevent the flu is through vaccination. Be sure your practice has an adequate supply of flu vaccines on hand and the proper immunization for each age group. Worried about over-ordering? When you use a pediatric-specialty EHR like OP, lot numbers and doses are recorded as vaccines are administered, and your private and VFC inventories are immediately updated. As a result, you won’t have to guess how many vaccines you need to order, reducing waste and saving money. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also provides detailed recommendations for influenza immunization in pediatric patients. Follow these guidelines to determine which vaccines are appropriate for different age groups.

3. Implement a Vaccination Reminder System

Create a system to communicate with parents and caregivers about the importance of flu vaccination for their children. You can automate reminders for upcoming flu clinics or vaccination appointments using electronic health record (EHR) software. Consider sending newsletters, emails, or text reminders to families to encourage them to get their children vaccinated. Posting announcements on your practice website and social media pages is also a great way to keep parents informed.

4. Develop an Infection Control Plan

During flu season, it’s essential to have a robust infection control plan in place to prevent the spread of the virus within your practice. The CDC offers comprehensive guidance on infection control in healthcare settings to help you create and implement effective protocols. You can use this resource to help you get started.

5. Train Your Staff on Flu Protocols

Make sure that your healthcare providers and support staff are trained to recognize flu symptoms, conduct rapid tests, and follow appropriate treatment protocols. The AAP offers educational resources, including infection prevention, control, and implementation, to help train your staff effectively.

6. Encourage Telehealth for Minor Cases

Because respiratory infections are easily transmitted, having sick children in your waiting area runs the risk of unwittingly infecting other patients. Consider offering telehealth appointments for mild flu cases or parents seeking advice about flu symptoms. Telehealth can reduce the risk of in-office transmission and provide convenient access to medical advice.

7. Maintain a Separate Waiting Area for Sick Patients

To prevent the spread of the flu within your practice, designate a separate waiting area for patients with flu-like symptoms. This helps reduce the risk of exposure to other patients and your staff. Make hand sanitizer readily available and consider implementing a BYOT (Bring Your Own Toys) policy so sick kids aren’t sharing the same stuffed animals that are not easily cleaned. Additionally, clean waiting room areas regularly with a substance that has high reactivity against bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

8. Communicate with Parents

Open and clear communication with parents is vital. Provide information – both in-office and on your practice’s website – about flu prevention, symptoms to watch for, and when to seek medical attention. The AAP offers free resources on Talking to Parents About Flu, which can guide these conversations. Also consider adding a “What’s Going Around” section to your website so parents can get more information about current healthcare concerns in your community.

9. Prepare for Increased Workload

Be prepared for an increased workload during flu season. This may involve scheduling additional appointments, hiring temporary staff, or extending office hours to accommodate patient needs. Remember that telehealth visits can happen anytime, from any location, so providers can even take calls from the comfort of their own homes.

10. Monitor Flu Activity

Regularly monitor local and national flu activity using the CDC’s FluView and other relevant resources. State-specific health department websites that track flu surveillance reports can be found here. This will help you stay informed about the severity of the flu season in your area and adjust your practice’s response accordingly.

By following these tips and utilizing the provided resources, your pediatric practice can be better prepared for flu season, provide optimal patient care, and contribute to your community’s overall health and well-being. Remember that proactive planning and communication are critical to a successful flu season in your practice.

EHRs are the key to streamlining operations, identifying efficiencies and gaps in care, and freeing up valuable time for you and your staff. OPs pediatric-specialty EHR offers features designed to help keep your practice’s financial and clinical operations running smoothly so you can focus on what you do best – taking care of your patients. Contact us today to learn how Office Practicum can help your pediatric practice operate at its best.

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