Achieving herd immunity against COVID-19 requires a substantial portion of the population to get vaccinated, a milestone thus far hampered by a host of vaccine distribution challenges and the emergence of new COVID-19 variant. But a larger, underlying issue also exists: vaccine hesitancy, or an unwillingness to be vaccinated.
Overcoming vaccine hesitancy requires overcoming a range of barriers that prevent people from getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Barriers include, but are not limited to:
- concern over the vaccine’s safety and efficacy
- distrusting healthcare and science
- believing antibodies from having had COVID-19 are more protective than the COVID-19 vaccines
- believing in conspiracy theories
- having certain political leanings and/or religious beliefs
Overcoming these barriers for high-risk, vulnerable populations, however, is as crucial as it is challenging.
Focus on Health Equity
While COVID-19 deaths among Black and Latino Americans are 2.8x higher than COVID-19 deaths among White Americans, the Kaiser Family Foundation Vaccine Monitor survey found 34% of Black adults and 26% of Hispanic adults say they want to “wait and see” before getting vaccinated, compared to only 18% of White adults.
This can be tied to racial disparities in healthcare delivery as well as systemic bias and historical distrust that long preceded the pandemic but have finally been widely discussed over the past year.
In a Becker’s Hospital Review article, Dan Michelson, CEO of Strata Decision Technology, shared key takeaways from the 2021 J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference and noted this year’s event emphasized health equity, not just healthcare. “In the past, [healthcare organizations] have outlined many wonderful programs on ‘social determinants of health,’ but this year they have seen the disproportionate impact of COVID on low-income communities bringing the ongoing issue of racial disparities in access to care and outcomes to light,” he said.
Given the disproportionate impact of the virus, health systems must ensure historically overlooked and underserved populations get vaccinated. The vaccination rollout is an opportunity to build relationships with these patients, bring them into your healthcare system, and make healthcare delivery more equitable for all.
Disparities in the Healthcare Experience
Recent studies have shown patient experiences with and levels of trust in the healthcare system vary greatly among racial and ethnic groups.
A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and The Undefeated found only 56% of Black Americans trust their local hospitals to do what is right for them and their community “almost all the time” or “most of the time,” compared to 70% of White Americans who gave the same response. Additionally, the poll results showed 70% of Black Americans say the healthcare system treats people unfairly based on race “very often” or “somewhat often,” up from 56% when a similar question was asked in a 1999 poll. Only 41% of White Americans gave the same response to the question on this year’s poll.
These differing responses underscore the impact of systemic racism—and the inequalities it produces—on the healthcare industry and point to the urgency around health equity. Health systems can’t allow these patterns to persist, or they risk excluding patient populations with the greatest healthcare need during the pandemic and beyond.
The Role of Vaccine Acceptance
COVID-19 vaccine rollout programs can serve as a galvanizing event for health equity initiatives because widespread vaccination is required for ending the pandemic – people of every racial/ethnic group, education level, and income bracket need to get vaccinated.
By understanding and recognizing the barriers that different groups may have against the vaccine, healthcare organizations can communicate more effectively about vaccination in general and the COVID-19 vaccine in particular. From there, you can move more people toward vaccine acceptance and adoption.
Through this focus on hard-to-reach populations, your organization can help build trust with patients who may have previously felt dismissed by or excluded from the healthcare system. This trust is essential to creating inclusive environments where patients receive personalized care, adhere to treatment plans, and realize improved outcomes.
Lirio’s Vaccination Journey Drives Equitable Care
Lirio works with departments of health and health systems to overcome vaccine hesitancy, facilitate vaccine acceptance and adoption, and, ultimately, achieve health equity. Our Vaccination Journey uses Lirio Precision Nudging™ to help you move patients toward healthy actions at the right time and place. This approach allows us to truly personalize both the strategy and messaging at the individual level, engaging hard-to-reach populations at a rate as much as 48% higher than traditional, one-size-fits-all approaches that are too general and, therefore, less effective.
Here’s what that looks like as part of your vaccination journey:
- We encode behavioral science expertise into our AI-driven platform to define the problem that needs to be solved: moving patients to get the number of shots required for COVID-19 vaccination.
- Our platform matches behavioral science solutions with behavioral profiles. These profiles can include social determinants of health (SDOH) data such as race, ethnicity, income, education, and more.
- The platform assembles behavioral science solutions into unique behavioral interventions and deploys them at scale. Behavioral interventions overcome each patient’s barriers to engaging with and acting on vaccination recommendations.
- AI enables continuous learning, allowing you to engage populations based on behavioral responses. The learning agent gets smarter over time and continues to optimize with each behavioral intervention sent to individuals within the population, registering the behaviors of similar and different recipients to achieve greater success.
- Your data is now actionable. Lirio connects data from your systems of record with your systems of engagement, so you can apply it to other journeys. This means you can incorporate patients who are part of the vaccination journey into other behavioral journeys you deploy, including those focused on digital engagement, receipt of routine preventive screenings, diabetes care, and more.
Learn More about Vaccination Adoption and Health Equity
Watch Lirio’s on-demand webinar webinar, “Vaccination Adoption and Equity Must Meet People Where They Are,” featuring a conversation with Dr. Deborah Stamps, Ed.D, MBA, MS, RN, GNP, NE-BC, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and Executive Vice President of Quality, Safety, and Innovation at Rochester Regional Health.
She discusses how Rochester has seen positive change in its community engagements by meeting high-risk populations where they are to educate them about the vaccine and connect on a personal and emotional level.
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