Few healthcare services embody the preventive intent of value-based care more than vaccines. From a child’s birth, pediatricians deliver protective, potentially life-saving immunizations that foster good long-term health. Likewise, additional vaccinations later in life contribute to the wellness of adult patients.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), each year, childhood vaccinations prevent 4 million deaths worldwide. Between 2021 and 2030, the World Health Organization estimates immunizations could save more than 50 million lives. Boosting pediatric immunization rates can protect even more children against infectious and deadly diseases.
Regardless of whether a practice has adopted value-based care or continues to use the traditional fee-for-service model, the goal of vaccination is to protect the health of as many children as possible.
However, vaccination tends to be costlier for those in fee-for-service. Vaccines account for roughly 30% of pediatric practice expenses. Providers can also lose money on unused and expired vaccines, so vaccine inventory management is essential. These management systems carry additional insurance costs against vaccine loss or spoilage and unexpected circumstances.
For practices in value-based care, vaccinations elevate quality improvement metrics. Pediatricians are incentivized based on positive outcomes that center around patients being fully immunized using guidelines set forth by payer contracts and the CDC. While vaccine inventory management is still a concern, many practices participate in the federal Vaccines for Children program. This initiative buys vaccines in bulk and distributes them to participating practices. Doing so dramatically increases access to vaccines by providing free shots to children who would otherwise remain unvaccinated due to cost.
Within a value-based system, making vaccine administration a measure of quality can improve immunization rates. Meeting benchmark vaccination rates also contributes to higher star ratings for practices from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Incentive payments for practices will only partially increase vaccination rates. Vaccines are a key, routine preventive service. These shots critically safeguard a patient’s long-term health. They also prevent disease outbreaks and protect the public at large. As a result, avoidable illnesses send fewer patients to the hospital, and healthcare costs stay lower.
It’s important to note that while vaccination largely centers around pediatric and adolescent populations, adults also benefit from certain vaccines, including tetanus, shingles, pneumonia, and flu. Adults should be mindful of their vaccination status, and providers should discuss and schedule appropriate immunizations with their patients at annual wellness visits.
Several strategies can help providers increase vaccination rates among their patients:
Vaccines are an invaluable component of comprehensive healthcare. A value-based healthcare system creates more opportunities to offer these potentially life-saving immunizations. Increasing vaccination rates can improve patients’ long-term health and maximize reimbursements.