Kaiser Permanente is leveraging its wealth of member and community data to craft new vaccine promotion programs

A healthcare worker administers a vaccine
Large integrated health system Kaiser Permanente has announced a sweepstakes lottery, community grants and other outreach programs supporting President Joe Biden's Fourth of July vaccination goal. (Kaiser Permanente)

Kaiser Permanente has announced a slew of new COVID-19 vaccine outreach and incentive programs to support the White House’s goal of 70% of adults with at least partial coverage by July 4.

Chief among these initiatives is $10 million in new grants to 100 schools, churches, community centers and other organizations that can promote vaccination to a broad swath of people, which a representative said are being finalized and distributed this week.

Kaiser Permanente kicked off an online influencer and social media campaign aimed at younger adults ages 18 to 30 that will be conducted with existing partners such as Cloud9, a professional esports team.

On the incentive side, Kaiser Permanente has begun enrolling all its vaccinated members and nonmembers who received a vaccine through the nonprofit into the ImmUNITY sweepstakes that will run through July 9. The program will be awarding 1,000 people with prizes like wellness retreats, gym memberships, home meal deliveries and trips to theme and national parks.

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Each of these new programs will be conducted alongside targeted and population-level outreach the system has been conducting for months, Stephen Parodi, M.D., executive vice president of The Permanente Federation, told Fierce Healthcare.

The unvaccinated individuals the health system is targeting are anything but uniform, he said. Some are opposed to the vaccines on an ideological level, while others haven’t yet been exposed to reliable information from a source they trust or just don’t see the need to carve out time for an appointment.

As an integrated health system, Kaiser has an opportunity to leverage its EHRs and other data to identify those who haven’t yet been vaccinated, understand their demographics or other contributing characteristics and then craft targeted outreach that has a stronger chance of persuading holdouts, Parodi said.

These data can inform Kaiser clinicians and other partners’ strategies when encountering unvaccinated individuals as patients or in the community, he said. The information also formed the basis of the programs unveiled this week.

“We think you need to have different strategies for all these different groups of people,” he said. “That’s been our experience with different populations, and that’s the advantage to … the integrated healthcare system point of view. We’re seeing people in our clinics [and] our communities and we get to hear all these different stories.”

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Parodi pointed to Kaiser Permanente’s geographic reach across eight states and Washington, D.C., as both an advantage and a hurdle for the organization as it targets the Fourth of July goal line. While its size increases the volume of patient data that can be employed, it also means the system needs to keep track of which outreach strategies will translate across different regions.

“Those [areas] all have different population characteristics, and so we’re really intentional about bringing together people from each of the different areas in our footprint because what may work in California might not work in Georgia,” he said. “We need to have all those different perspectives.”

That collective, collaborative mindset will continue to be key for the organization as it moves forward with its newest initiatives, Parodi stressed.

Kaiser Permanente has already leaned on the multidisciplinary experts employed across its organizations, such as front-line clinicians, communications teams and employer benefits specialists. The system has also coordinated its vaccine efforts with government leaders at the local, state and federal levels, Parodi said, and is now looking to support like-minded healthcare organizations with the recent release of its internal vaccine confidence toolkit (PDF).

However, what’s become clear to Parodi and his organization is that mass vaccination and other top-level initiatives won’t be enough to hit President Joe Biden’s short-term goal or to protect against potential variants of the disease in the coming years.

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He stressed that grassroots-level support and community collaboration will be mandatory as government programs, health systems, payers and other private sector companies design new programs to increase access and incentivize vaccination.

“All of these vaccination efforts need to meet people where they are,” Parodi said. “We need to remove the barriers we hear from our members and our community, and we need to support the care team on the ground so they can do that groundwork at the individual level, removing those last bits of barrier. I think it’s so exciting to see this national-level mobilization where you have multiple industries, multiple employers, multiple health systems coming together to make this a reality.”

Kaiser Permanente’s new initiatives weren’t the only rallying cry to come out of major healthcare industry names this week.

Centene announced it would be teaming up with its network providers on a new call campaign that will offer assistance to members who have not been vaccinated. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Government-wide Service Benefit Plan will be launching its own incentive program June 11 that will reward members with credit toward payments for certain medical expenses.

Biden himself outlined a number of federal and private sector vaccine incentive programs during a White House press event held last week. These ranged from free childcare for parents booking a vaccination appointment or recovering from its aftereffects to free Anheuser-Busch beer for all U.S. adults should the country reach its 70% goal.