Supporting Human Papillomavirus Vaccination in Adolescents: Perspectives From Commercial and Medicaid Health Plans

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An estimated 79 million Americans are infected with human papillomavirus (HPV). Vaccination can reduce the burden of infection and HPV-associated cancers; yet, vaccination rates remain low. Little is known about why some health plans achieve higher vaccination rates.


This study sought to identify strategies used by higher-performing health plans to support HPV vaccination.


We used 2013 data from the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) Human Papillomavirus Vaccine for Female Adolescents measure to identify high-performing plans. The measure examines the percentage of female adolescent plan members who received 3 doses of HPV vaccine by their 13th birthday. High performers were defined as the subset of commercial plans with the top 10 rates and the subset of Medicaid plans with the top 10 rates. An interview guide was developed to assess activities related to providing HPV vaccination. Interviews were conducted with selected plans and audio-recorded. Transcripts were reviewed independently by 2 interviewers and analyzed by hand to identify key themes.


Staff members representing 10 plans agreed to be interviewed, representing a diversity of plan size (range, 5500 to >2.7 million members); plan type (about half were commercial, half were Medicaid plans); patient population, from predominantly white to predominantly nonwhite; and geographic region.


Plans Participants highlighted multiple strategies that support HPV vaccination, particularly the “normalizing” of the vaccine. Plans' efforts highlighted patient and provider education, reminders, feedback loops, community collaborations, immunization registries, and use of medical home concepts—including team-driven efforts and coordination.


There is an important need to improve the uptake of HPV vaccination. As health coverage expands to more organizations and individuals, it will be critical for health plans to consider the strategies implemented by higher-performing organizations.


Although HPV immunization rates are low nationally, health plans can employ multiple efforts to encourage vaccination by implementing activities that involve the patient, the provider, and the community.

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