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Vaccines: It's all in how you ask

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A behavioral economics technique called "active choice" may help to increase the rate of influenza vaccinations, according to a new study in the <i>Journal of General Internal Medicine</i>.

A behavioral economics technique called "active choice" may help to increase the rate of influenza vaccinations, according to a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania looked at vaccination rates at three clinics: one that used the intervention and two controls. For the intervention clinic, electronic health records were programmed to notify care providers if the patient was eligible for an influenza vaccine, and then prompt the provider to either "accept" or "cancel" an influenza vaccination order. If the order was accepted, the vaccine could be administered immediately. Prior to the intervention, providers would have to check manually if a patient was due for the vaccine and then place an order for it. The study found that from mid-February 2012, when the researchers began using the intervention until the end of the 2012–13 influenza season, orders for influenza vaccines in the clinic increased by about 37% compared with the previous flu season. In September 2016, the intervention was expanded to all internal medicine outpatient clinics across Penn Medicine.

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