"What's New with the Flu" Educates Clinicians and Patients about Vaccination and New Treatments

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MANHATTAN, N.Y. - Jan. 10, 2020 - PRLog -- DKBmed, LLC and Penn Medicine – Lancaster General Health Physicians (LGH) are extending their quality improvement initiative to reduce illness associated with seasonal influenza in Lancaster, PA. Influenza, is a contagious respiratory illness that affects up to 11% of the population each year and can cause serious illness and death. In the 2018-2019 flu season, approximately 61,200 deaths were attributed to the flu nationwide and more than 98,000 residents were sickened by the flu in Pennsylvania. However, annual influenza vaccination can reduce transmission, incidence and severity of the flu. The CDC recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone six months of age or older. Nonetheless, less than 50% of the US population receives the vaccine. Further, prompt use of antiviral medications can mitigate the illness associated with infection. This program, called What's New with the Flu, will target the LGH health care network located in Lancaster.

"Influenza is a highly contagious virus that can cause significant illness, especially in pregnant women, people under the age of five and over the age of 50, people with compromised immune systems or chronic lung, heart, and metabolic diseases, and residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities," says Paul G. Auwaerter, MD, MBA, FIDSA, and Past President of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and Course Director for What's New with the Flu. "While the influenza vaccine is not perfect, it can protect against illness and hospitalizations associated with influenza. When people do become ill with influenza, we now have critical medications that may benefit patients if used early in illness that can reduce the duration and severity of their illness. With this important program, we hope to reduce illness associated with influenza in the Lancaster area," says Thomas C. Raff, MD, Associate Director of the Urgent Care Network at LGH.

The goals of What's New with the Flu (Flu2020.dkbmed.com) include increasing vaccination rates, improving patient-provider communication to address misperceptions about influenza, and raising awareness of the effectiveness and utility of available antiviral medications. The program will be deployed at LGH urgent care centers and made available at the 34 LGH Physicians primary care practices throughout the greater Lancaster region.

The success of this quality improvement program will be assessed by comparing deidentified electronic medical records before and after the educational intervention across multiple flu seasons by reviewing changes in vaccination rates, influenza diagnoses, and antiviral use.

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