Influenza immunizations: key metric for ACOs

March 11, 2016  Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

doctor giving woman influenza immunizations

For physicians participating in ACOs, the reporting deadline for the flu metric is fast approaching. Patients must receive influenza immunizations and must have a face-to-face PCP office visit (with billed E&M code) by March 30, 2016 if your ACO is reporting on this metric.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has prepared an excellent overview of 2015-16 Influenza Activity and Clinical Recommendations which you can review here.

Timing of influenza activity in the United States can be variable. Most often it peaks between January and March. But during the three most recent influenza seasons activity began relatively early and peaked in December and January. However, compared to the three most recent seasons, the current season activity began to increase in mid-December which is a more typical influenza activity pattern. And since mid- December CMS has seen activity increasing up until mid-February.

Influenza activity is very hard to predict. And how long the season lasts is difficult to know. For the past 13 seasons influenza-like illness activity has remained at or above the national baseline for between one and 19 weeks each season, with an average of 13 weeks.