Family physicians play a critical role in increasing adolescent immunization rates, which is why the AAFP is recruiting 20 family medicine practices to participate in a new CDC-sponsored Adolescent Immunization Office Champions project.
According to Bellinda Schoof, M.H.A., the AAFP's clinical policies manager, immunization survey coverage levels show that national vaccination rates in adolescents have improved for tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis and meningococcal conjugate vaccines, but a wide variation remains at state and local levels. Immunization coverage for the human papillomavirus vaccine also remains below national goals for both girls and boys.
A three-year cooperative agreement with the CDC will allow the Academy to work on increasing adolescent immunization rates in family physician practices using its Office Champions Tobacco Cessation National Dissemination Project(12 page PDF) as a template. The selected practices will work to improve immunization rates in their adolescent patient population, and in doing so, will develop a culture that promotes the importance of vaccines and integrating effective strategies to reach vaccination goals.
Schoof said the adolescent program is focusing on improving practice-level performance using the Academy's METRIC (Measuring, Evaluating and Translating Research Into Care) Adolescent Immunization module, as well as by facilitating support for each practice's office champion to meet the program's ends. METRIC is approved by the American Board of Family Medicine as an alternative program to fulfill Maintenance of Certification for Family Physicians (MC-FP) Part IV (performance-in-practice) requirements and uses family physicians' own practice data to help develop an action plan to keep adolescent patients on schedule with their immunizations. The module also offers tips, templates and resources and allows FPs to track and evaluate their performance.
"Practices will be recruited from the Academy's active category membership," Schoof said. "A family physician in each practice will be required to complete the METRIC module, and each practice will be required to designate an 'office champion' to spearhead this effort."
To qualify as a participant in the project, at least one FP in the practice must be an active AAFP member and complete
- an AAFP conflict-of-interest form and a memorandum of understanding,
- the AAFP METRIC Adolescent Immunization performance improvement module,
- two chart reviews of 50 random adolescent patient charts,
- two practice surveys at the pre and post-intervention phase,
- a mid-project interview with AAFP project staff,
- an action plan to implement office system changes, and
- monthly teleconferences and training webinars.
Participating practices will receive $3,000 to cover administrative costs, and the deadline to apply is Jan. 7. Schoof said implementation is tentatively set to begin in February 2013 and is expected to take approximately 17 months.
Qualified applicants can contact Schoof via e-mail for more information.