Just Read: In a health system where patient-physician email is actually used, how it impacts care

In an American health system, where, for the most part, patients *still* do not have access to their online medical records or access to their physicians (see: Patel V, Barker W, Siminerio E. Individuals’ access and use of their online medical record nationwide. Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and Majority of Americans don’t use digital technology to access doctors | CAPP), this is a study conducted by the research team at Kaiser Permanente (@KPDOR) where patients mostly *do* have this access.

Of interest, they looked at how patients who had higher co-pays thought of using email as their first contact with providers, and how it may have shifted their use of services. This article on the @KPShare web site summarizes things nicely so I won’t repeat here: Patient-Initiated E-mails to Providers: Associations With Out-of-Pocket Visit Costs, and Impact on Care-Seeking and Health

I do want to clarify that the study is not asking about cost-sharing for email interactions. It asked what people would do if they didn’t have email at all. Totally different question. And no less interesting at this stage of adoption.

Speaking of adoption, the national numbers are 30% of people are offered their online medical record, and 46% viewed it at least once. That’s super low.

At Kaiser Permanente, 100% of people are offered their online medical record, 69% of the eligible population (as of 2Q2015) have signed up to use it, and 68% have viewed it at least once in the last quarter. 40% accessed it 5 or more times in the last quarter. By definition this is patient directed activity because there aren’t any organizational barriers to this access. These numbers are much better 🙂 .

Read the study to find out more what they do with it once they have it, which is a much more interesting question than, “when are they going to get it.”

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