More Access = Better Health?
Patients who have online access to their medical records and use email to communicate with their physicians are more likely to using traditional healthcare services, according to a recent study published in JAMA. According to the study, those patients were more engaged in using clinical services, including office visits and telephone calls to their doctors.
The study, which compared the use of clinical services before and after implementing an online system called My Health Manager, tracked users of the system and an equal number of non-users (over 44,000 of each).
Results found that users of the online system increased their office visits (.7 per member/year) and telephone encounters (.3 per member/year) as well as the use of other healthcare services, including after-hour clinic visits and emergency room encounters. The pattern held true for those both below and above the age of 50.
This new finding contradicts previous studies that suggest that patients with access to healthcare information online substitute that information for traditional healthcare services. It also shows that there’s a shift in how people engage with healthcare. The more access you give patients, the more likely they’ll follow up with your hospital or practice.