More people getting HPV vaccines thanks to EHRs

More people getting HPV vaccines thanks to EHRs

A study published in Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine revealed that patients are more likely to schedule human papilloma virus vaccinations after receiving alerts from their electronic health records. Because HPV has been linked to cancer, low vaccination rates have been a point of concern for medical professionals.

These HPV vaccinations, which are for adolescent girls, are delivered in three increments. The study explained that, typically, only 28 percent of patients complete the series of injections within the suggested timeframe. Almost 85 percent of people who started the vaccination process missed one or more opportunities to continue the treatment when visiting their doctors for other reasons, like routine checkups. 

For the study, researchers split 15,000 female patients between the ages of 19 and 26 into two groups. One section received care from physicians who had EHRs that lacked HPV vaccine alerts, and the other set of patients went to doctors with systems that delivered follow-up reminders. The alerts simply stated "HPV," then asked patients to select one of the following options: done, ordered, patient declined, patient not eligible, discussed, or not addressed. If patients chose not to make another vaccination appointment but had not yet finished the series of shots, the alert appeared again after their next appointment. 

Overall, patients that received these prompts were six times more likely to start the vaccination process compared to people receiving care from doctors with no EHR alerts. Additionally, patients were eight times more likely to complete the series of injections when they were regularly receiving reminders. They were also more likely to schedule the series in within the recommended time frame. HPV shots are relatively new, and currently only 33 percent of eligible recipients are vaccinated. Researchers explained that EHRs could be influential in making these injections more widespread.