VCHI and Health System Partners Team Up to Improve HPV Vaccination Rates

Williamsburg, Virginia April 10, 2019 – Today, at the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association’s Spring Conference, Virginia Center for Health Innovation (VCHI) President and CEO, Beth Bortz announced that VCHI had secured $225,000 in grant funding from Merck to implement Virginia Vaccinates; a collaborative project among primary care practice sites affiliated with three of Virginia’s health systems in the western region.  The collaborative members will work together to improve HPV vaccination rates.  HPV vaccination is important because it protects against cancers caused by human papillomavirus infection. Every year in the United States, HPV causes 33,700 cancers in men and women. HPV vaccination can prevent most of the cancers (about 31,200) from ever developing.

As part of the Virginia Health Value Dashboard, VCHI and its 50 partner organizations identified improving childhood and adolescent vaccination rates as a priority in addressing Aim 2 of the Value Dashboard: Increasing High Value Health Care.  Virginia Dashboard data from 2016 revealed that the vaccination rate with the most significant need for improvement was human papillomavirus, where adolescent completion rates of 35% for girls and 22.5% for boys fell well below the Healthy People 2020 goal of 80%. A collaborative of state leaders, spearheaded by the Virginia Department of Health, with support from VCHI, committed to tackling HPV immunization completion and have seen early success with the combined completion rate climbing to 53% in 2017. While this still lags behind other adolescent vaccine completion rates, this partnership shows that improvement is possible when clinicians are informed, engaged, and shown their own performance data.

“Vaccinating more children and adolescents against HPV can help prevent certain types of cancer; it is vital that we work together to make this happen.” – Tony Keck, Ballad Health

The clinical partners for Virginia Vaccinates include 40 pediatric and family medicine sites from Ballad Health, Carilion Clinic, and UVA Health System. Each site will designate lead clinicians to attend an in-person kick-off event, followed by a six-month virtual coaching and online education period. “We are thrilled to partner with our colleagues in the region to identify best practices to improve HPV completion rates in the Commonwealth”, said Tony Keck, EVP for System Innovation and Chief Population Health Officer at Ballad Health. “The HPV vaccine is often misunderstood and a huge part of this effort will be improving communication between providers, our patients and their families.  Vaccinating more children and adolescents against HPV can help prevent certain types of cancer; it is vital that we work together to make this happen.”

All participating clinicians will have access to a private space on the Virginia Health Innovation Network that will house tools and resources and on-demand webinars. To measure progress, participating practices will review reports from their own EHRs in partnership with the virtual coach.  “We are thrilled to be able to facilitate this important work and are appreciative of our enthusiastic clinical partners and to Merck for supporting this initiative”, said Beth Bortz, President and CEO of VCHI. “Our hope is that the learnings and best practices garnered from this project can be shared across the Commonwealth.”

About the Virginia Center for Health Innovation

Incorporated in January 2012 following a recommendation from Gov. Robert McDonnell’s Virginia Health Reform Initiative, the Virginia Center for Health Innovation (VCHI) seeks to facilitate innovation by convening key stakeholders and securing the resources to accelerate value-driven models of wellness and healthcare throughout Virginia. VCHI’s work is focused on achieving three aims: reducing low value health care, increasing high value health care, and ensuring Virginia has the infrastructure in place to measure and reward value in health care. Among its many innovative projects, the most notable for their alignment with this initiative is the Virginia Health Value Dashboard and the Virginia Scorecards on Payment Reform. For more information visit: and follow on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.