Insights and blogs

Medical communications

Flu vaccine delays and increased eligibility: 3 ways to manage with pre-planned communications

Emma Workman

13th September 2021

Each year the seasonal flu period impacts thousands of patients across the world, with experts pinning the UK’s flu season typically between December - March. In the lead-up to this time, medical practices meticulously plan their flu campaigns in order to keep those at risk safe whilst heavily relying upon the government to deliver on their promise of on-time vaccine delivery.

Despite the year-round planning, the flu season is never that straight forward. With every year being impacted by vaccine delays, caused by a variety of factors.

This 2021 winter flu season, is no different. The government recently reported a vaccine delay of around two weeks, just days before one of the largest UK flu vaccination campaigns was about to take place.

This not only left medical professionals scrambling to cancel and rearrange flu clinics but added further confusion, to what has already been one of the most challenging years on record for the National Health Service, as increased numbers of eligible patients come forward wanting to be protected this winter.

Practice pressure - Officials predict this year's flu season could be 'up to 50% larger' than in a typical year

Whilst ‘Ministers and NHS bosses want as many people as possible to have their jab, to help protect the NHS’ (Campbell, 2021), many major vaccine providers like Seqirus have since urged practices to ‘not re-book clinics until they receive a further update confirming a new date on which they can expect a delivery of vaccine’ (Bostock, 2021), to avoid further confusion and additional cancelled clinics.

This not only increased the inbound activity practices receive on a daily basis but raises the question of when will these vital clinics actually be able to take place?

Despite this many practices continue to plan behind closed doors, so that when the time is right they are able to deliver a quick, COVID safe vaccine clinic, creating their own contingency plans to ensure their clinics remain a success whilst informing patients when required.

This no doubt has increased the pressures on already unsustainable workloads of practices across the country and further affected the patient-practice relationship with many surgeries finding themselves inundated with calls, emails and practice visits from eager patients.

Whilst this early increase in activity was anticipated due to the cancellation of clinics and news reports, practices will be seeking a way in which to minimize pressures of further increased activity, where possible, whilst continuing to provide patients with everything they need to know. But how can this be done?

It’s all about managing good patient communications

With cancelled flu clinics and fears of shortages upon delivery, practices are working tirelessly to keep patients up to date on what to expect in the coming weeks in relation to their annual flu vaccinations and possible COVID-19 booster.

But as key updates seem to be changing weekly, practices are seeking ways to make their lives that little bit easier whilst managing practice traffic caused by the vaccine delay (both now and in the future) and this all starts with effective communications.

Whilst communications can be seen as a major time consumer during this uncertain period, there are some simple ways in which practices can plan ahead so that their time and efforts can be focused on other important areas.

3 ways to pre-plan patient communications


From letter templates, text reminders, communication workflows, social posts and standard responses, having a library of communications templates in place for all circumstances helps practices utilise documents when required, with a click of a button. This minimizes the amount of time spent on creating, amending and sending communications with the option to pre-select designed templates which can be used year on year once approved.

These templates should offer complete personalisation, for both bulk and individual touchpoints, so that practices can simply store these templates and use them when required, for maximum efficiency with minimal effort.

Get your data ready

With larger eligible patient cohorts, it’s more important than ever that practices manage their data in a way that is efficient, secure and time-sensitive.

By pre-defining data lists and breaking patients down into manageable batches, practices are able to instantly access relevant databases as well as manage patient footfall and interaction through the planning of patient contact. Whilst this may seem an obvious thing to do, having manageable databases of patients helps to organise flu clinic structures as well as any invites sent, removing pressure from both communication management and clinics.

Scheduling mailings

What’s more, practices are now pre-scheduling mailings for the coming month so that patients can be engaged with automatically. Perhaps this is a little early to consider whilst dates are not yet confirmed by vaccine suppliers, but for most practices, this provides the opportunity to plan ahead where possible.

Being able to schedule mailings in advance, removes the daily pressure of communicating whereby communications can be planned a week, fortnight or even a month in advance helping minimize workloads when practice interaction increases at the peak of the flu season.

The provider you can trust

Whilst these steps help minimize the pressure on staff during this busy period, many practices will still find reception staff managing their communications internally, for example, printing, folding and stuffing postal envelopes, managing a library of comms or individually emailing patients.

However, there are a range of specialist companies who are available to help during this busy period, as well as all year round, becoming valuable partners you can trust.

Docmail hybrid mail - the patient communication specialist

Supporting medical practices since 2009 to deliver secure, engaging patient communications, Docmail hybrid mail is an approved supplier of the NHS to manage, print and deliver letters when it matters most.

With the ability to pre-plan mailings using the 28-day scheduling option, store templates and approved comms in the library and next day dispatch postal options, the system is designed in a flexible manner, so that it can work alongside the challenges practices are facing, offering full support and help.

The system is already used by over 4,000 medical practices in the UK and can be installed instantly, providing complete communication management whilst removing some of the pressure staff are facing.

If you would like to find out more on hybrid mail read our latest blog or to find out how we can support you with your patient communications fill in your details below and we will get in touch.

subscribe for updates »

Other articles

January 2023

How to use hybrid mail services to streamline communications costs

De-bunking data protection myths

5 ways to use outsourced hybrid mailings to boost customer communications

December 2022

The power of effective communication in retaining customers

5 ways charities can improve audience engagement on a budget

The power of the letter in the health sector

November 2022

Hybrid mail vs. direct mail: What's the difference?

What is accreditation and why is it so important to the finance sector

October 2022

What is accreditation and why is it so important to the private sector

Hybrid mail vs managed hybrid communications

September 2022

12 top tips for increasing patient engagement this winter season

August 2022

The return of the QR code

Fact piece: 7 interesting facts about Docmail hybrid mail

Docmail hybrid mail: all about the Print Driver

July 2022

What is Accreditation and why is it so important to the health sector

Hybrid communications in the public sector: Best practices to maximise procurement

June 2022

8 ways to improve public sector communications

What is Accreditation and why is it so important to the Public Sector

10 things you didn’t know about CFH Docmail

May 2022

Docmail customer service survey 2022

Creating meaningful connections offline

April 2022

A brief history on the evolution of communication

March 2022

SME’s: 8 tips for increasing engagement

11 things you didn’t know about Docmail hybrid mail

How to reduce your carbon footprint when working from home and onsite

How we’re constantly reducing our impact on the environment

February 2022

Benefits of using a multi-channel communications approach

Medical practices: using the hybrid mail print driver

January 2022

Where does the 5-day working week come from?

Advances in technology: Debunking mailing myths

How hybrid mail works

Hybrid communications for hybrid workers

December 2021

Creating your multi-channel communication strategy

Customer Support at CFH

Greenwashing: The importance of true sustainability in business

November 2021

SMEs and hybrid communications

Improving resident engagement with personalised, hybrid communications

Enhancing council communications with hybrid mail

October 2021

Managing practice pressure

Is paper eco-friendly?

September 2021

The 5 benefits of hybrid mail: printing and posting online

Addicted to remote working? Us too. 6 reasons we love WFH

Flu vaccine delays and increased eligibility: 3 ways to manage with pre-planned communications

June 2021

Best Practice: Patient communication management this winter

Credit unions: the adoption of hybrid communications to improve engagement and reduce cost?

The evolution of communication since Covid-19

May 2021

Overcoming Vaccine hesitancy for children - How good communication can help

How does digital transformation improve customer engagement?

What is hybrid mail? Print & post solutions explained

Effective business communication: debunking mailing myths

Start with a free communication review!

We’d love to look at how you’re communicating, how you could improve, and how we can help. Fill out your details and we’ll talk you through taking the friction out of your communications.