Provider time and costs to vaccinate adult patients
Impact of time counseling without vaccination
Amid provider reports of financial barriers as an impediment to adult immunization, this study explores the time and costs of vaccination in adult provider practices. Both a Vaccination Time-Motion Study and Vaccine Practice Management Survey were conducted (March - October 2017) in a convenience sample of 19 family medicine (FM), internal medicine (IM), and obstetrician-gynecology (OBGYN) practices, in nine states. Practices were directly observed during a one week period; estimates were collected of time spent on activities that could not be directly observed. Cost estimates were calculated by converting staff time for performed activities. In the time-motion study, FM and IM practices spent similar time conducting vaccination activities (median = 5 min per vaccination), while OBGYN practices spent more time (median = 29 min per vaccination). Combining results from the time-motion study and the practice management survey, the median costs of vaccination remained similar for FM practices and IM practices at $7 and $8 per vaccination, respectively, but was substantially higher for OBGYN practices at $43 per vaccination. Factors that contributed to higher costs among OBGYN practices were the increased time to counsel patients, administer vaccines, and to plan and manage vaccine supplies. In addition, 68% of OBGYN patients who were offered and counseled to receive vaccines declined to receive them. Counseling patients who ultimately do not go on to receive a vaccine may be an important cost factor. Lower costs of vaccination services may be achieved by increasing efficiencies in workflow or the volume of vaccinations.