Background: Immunization of adults with influenza vaccine and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine remains lower than recommended levels. Standing order programs (SOPs) in which non-physician medical personnel are permitted to assess an adult patient's immunization status and administer vaccines without an individual physician order are a proven method of increasing adult vaccinations, yet they are used by less than one half of primary care physicians caring for adults.
Methods: Following a national survey of primary care physicians about barriers to SOPs for adult immunizations, a SOP toolkit was developed. After review by a panel of experts, the toolkit was pilot tested in three primary care practices in a health care network with the same electronic medical record (EMR) system and low adult vaccination rates. Practice staffs were trained in the use of SOPs and the toolkit at a group meeting. This study was designed to pilot-test and evaluate the toolkit with the express intention of improving it. Three methods were used to evaluate the toolkit: (1) direct observation and interviews of each practice's staff; (2) surveys of each practice's staff; and (3) influenza and pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) vaccination rates.
Results: The staffs at all sites were equally likely to find the presentations and toolkit useful and did not differ in their knowledge of using SOPs for vaccination. They expressed a common set of barriers to implementing SOPs despite using the toolkit, and provided ideas for improving implementation. One site viewed SOPs in general in a more negative light and expressed that SOPs unfairly increased their workload. Vaccination rates in this site did not differ from those of the control site.
Conclusion: The evaluation suggested that the SOP toolkit should be expanded to include additional strategies to improve its applicability and effectiveness.
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