Friday, May 17, 2013

Study: Low-income patients want online links to health providers

From EHR Intelligence, February 28 ("EHR" means "electronic health records"):

71% of safety net patients want email, texts, and portals

A large majority of low income, underserved, and safety net patients want to communicate with their providers using email, text messaging, and online patient portals, according to a new study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, but fewer than 20% actually do. “A significant majority of safety net patients currently use email, text messaging, and the internet, and they expressed an interest in using these tools for electronic communication with their medical providers,” wrote the authors. “This interest is currently unmet within safety net clinics that do not offer a patient portal or secure messaging.”
The study was conducted in San Francisco.  In Cleveland, most "safety net" providers (MetroHealth, Neighborhood Family Practice, NEON, Care Alliance, etc.) do offer online communication, scheduling, prescription renewal and records access to their patients -- most often in the form of an integrated application like MyChart.

But the usefulness of these services to low-income and elderly patients in greater Cleveland is severely limited by the fact that most of them don't have regular Internet access.

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