News Release 

Innovative strategies sustain children's preventative care during pandemic

Despite COVID-19, health system increases vaccinations and primary care visits

Nemours

Research News

WILMINGTON, Del. (November 2, 2020) - Nemours Children's Health System increased patient immunizations by 4.6% from January - September 2020, compared with the same period in 2019, through an innovative hybrid approach to care using both in-person and telemedicine, according to new data presented today at the Children's Hospital Association's 2020 Annual Leadership Conference.

Between March and May, COVID-19 forced the cancellation of 48% of primary care visits and 28.5% of immunizations, but the multi-state health system was able to ensure the health needs of its 180,000 primary care patients by assembling a multidisciplinary team to improvise new methods to assure delivery of this crucial preventive care.

"Children's well-care has an enormous impact on their growth and development, and staying on track with their immunizations keeps us all safe from vaccine-preventable illnesses," said Jonathan Miller, MD, an author of the study and medical director of Nemours' Value-Based Service Organization. "The immunization rates we are seeing are a great sign of the impact we're having, especially considering the overall national declines that have been reported in immunizations among adolescents and children since the pandemic began."

After experiencing the sharp post-COVID decline, Nemours brought together a multi-disciplinary team representing expertise in population health, data analytics, and medical management to develop rapid, innovative changes to the health system's primary care sites in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Florida. The team used four primary strategies:

    1. Cohorting patients and practices to separate sick and well children to limit exposure to illnesses;

    2. Harnessing telemedicine to meet immediate needs;

    3. Using tents for immunizations and limited physical exams;

    4. Calling families' homes to screen for social determinants of health that may be impacting their overall well-being.

As a result of these changes, Nemours increased overall child immunizations by 4.6% over 2019 rates, provided more than 36,000 primary care telemedicine visits, and cared for nearly 10,000 children using "tele-well" visits that used telemedicine and limited in-person care. Of nearly 20,000 physicals cancelled due to the pandemic, 85% have been completed or rescheduled.

"Given all of the hurdles children and families have faced in receiving preventative care this year, we are heartened by the level of care we were able to bring to our communities," said Thomas Lacy, MD, an author of the study and division chief for Nemours Primary Care and Urgent Care in Florida. "COVID-19 presented enormous obstacles that have required ingenuity to continue to meet the needs of children."

###

About Nemours Children's Health System

Nemours is an internationally recognized children's health system that owns and operates the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., and Nemours Children's Hospital in Orlando, Fla., along with outpatient facilities in five states, delivering pediatric primary, specialty and urgent care. Nemours also powers the world's most-visited website for information on the health of children and teens, KidsHealth.org and offers on-demand, online video patient visits through Nemours CareConnect.

Established as The Nemours Foundation through the legacy and philanthropy of Alfred I. duPont, Nemours provides pediatric clinical care, research, education, advocacy, and prevention programs to families in the communities it serves.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.