Big Data Sniffs Out Consumers at Risk for Getting the Flu

Welltok Reveals Top Candidates for Flu Shots and Strategies to Increase Compliance

DENVER, December 7, 2017 – As one of the worst flu seasons encroaches on America and flu-related costs exceed $10 billion annually, encouraging consumers to get the flu vaccine is a top priority for population health managers. Welltok, the leading consumer health enterprise company, is leveraging its proprietary data and predictive analytics capabilities to help employers, health plans and other population health managers identify and target consumers with a greater risk of getting and spreading the flu.

According to the CDC, flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits and missed work and school, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. As more people get vaccinated, more people will be protected from the flu, including older people, very young children, pregnant women and people with certain long-term health conditions who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications.

Welltok combines its proprietary data on more than 275 million Americans with conventional clinical and claims data to reveal individuals who are more susceptible to contracting the virus. Consumer lifestyle and demographic data points such as car ownership, political party affiliation and household composition can be early indicators of a person’s flu risk. Welltok’s predictive models exposed:

  • Homeowners are slightly less likely to catch the flu
  • Consumers living in a multi-family home or mobile home are more likely to have a flu diagnosis
  • Consumers in a household with two or more females are slightly more likely to get sick
  • Males are less likely to have the flu
  • Consumers who paid more taxes are less likely to be infected with the flu


Welltok’s data also reveals that seniors with certain comorbidities are far more susceptible to hospitalization if they contract the flu virus. People over 65 with COPD are 162 percent more likely to be hospitalized due to flu-related illness, and those who have experienced a stroke or heart failure have over a 100 percent higher likelihood. Additional cohorts at risk for serious flu complications include those with common chronic conditions including asthma, depression and diabetes.

Although flu vaccination can reduce illnesses, doctors’ visits, work absenteeism, and hospitalizations, only 41 percent of adults were vaccinated in 2016. Welltok identified consumers’ top excuses for not getting the flu shot – misperceptions like “it causes the flu” and “healthy people do not need the shot.” These barriers and others can be overcome by delivering the right message through the right communication channels. For example, a message educating select Medicaid members on how to access flu clinics resulted in 65 percent of recipients getting a flu shot. Another campaign conducted for a national health plan demonstrated that using two methods of communication successfully reached nearly 90 percent of individuals targeted with chronic disease. Furthermore, 56 percent of those contacted reported receiving a flu shot.

“While the CDC recommends flu shots at the beginning of the season, it’s not too late to get consumers vaccinated from the virus,” said Michelle Snyder, chief marketing officer for Welltok. “We continue conducting campaigns well into the winter months with positive returns by not only identifying those who are at risk for the flu, but also who would be most likely to take action. Combining these data points with the right message and channels have helped prevent the spread of the flu, which can prove deadly to vulnerable individuals.”

For more information on these findings, download the free infographic here:

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Welltok is an award-winning consumer activation solutions company that improves people’s total wellbeing. Only Welltok leverages proprietary data and advanced analytics to engage consumers in personalized and rewarding ways to drive action. Our solutions integrate data-driven SaaS software, curated resources and professional services to help health plans, self-funded employers and health systems support healthier, happier populations.

Welltok is an equal opportunity employer.