Improving Rates of Outpatient Influenza Vaccination Through EHR Portal Messages and Interactive Automated Calls: A Randomized Controlled Trial

UMMS Affiliation

Meyers Primary Care Institute; Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Health Information Technology | Health Services Administration | Health Services Research | Influenza Humans | Influenza Virus Vaccines


BACKGROUND: Patient reminders for influenza vaccination, delivered via electronic health record (EHR) patient portal messages and interactive voice response (IVR) calls, offer an innovative approach to improving patient care.

OBJECTIVE: To test the effectiveness of portal and IVR outreach in improving rates of influenza vaccination.

DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial of EHR portal messages and IVR calls promoting influenza vaccination.

PARTICIPANTS: Adults with no documented influenza vaccination 2 months after the start of influenza season (2014-2015).

INTERVENTION: Using a factorial design, we assigned 20,000 patients who were active portal users to one of four study arms: (a) receipt of a portal message promoting influenza vaccines, (b) receipt of IVR call with similar content, (c) both a and b, or (d) neither (usual care). We randomized 10,000 non-portal users to receipt of IVR call or usual care. In all intervention arms, information on pneumococcal vaccination was included if the targeted patient was overdue for pneumococcal vaccine.

MAIN MEASURES: EHR-documented influenza vaccination during the 2014-2015 influenza season, measured April 2015.

KEY RESULTS: Among portal users, 14.0% (702) of those receiving both portal messages and calls, 13.4% (669) of message recipients, 12.8% (642) of call recipients, and 11.6% (582) of those with usual care received vaccines. On multivariable analysis of portal users, those receiving portal messages alone (OR 1.20, 95% CI 1.06-1.35) or IVR calls alone (OR 1.15 95% CI 1.02-1.30) were more likely than usual care recipients to be vaccinated. Those receiving both messages and calls were also more likely than the usual care group to be vaccinated (ad hoc analysis, using a Bonferroni correction: OR 1.29, 97.5% CI 1.13, 1.48). Among non-portal users, 8.5% of call recipients and 8.6% of usual care recipients received influenza vaccines (p = NS). Pneumococcal vaccination rates showed no significant improvement.

CONCLUSIONS: Our outreach achieved a small but significant improvement in influenza vaccination rates.

Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier NCT02266277 ( https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02266277 ).


electronic health records, influenza vaccination, patient care

DOI of Published Version



J Gen Intern Med. 2018 Jan 30. doi: 10.1007/s11606-017-4266-9. [Epub ahead of print] Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of general internal medicine

PubMed ID


Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed