Patients who have diabetes and use a patient portal online to refill medications increased medication adherence and improved their cholesterol levels, according to new research.
Researchers at the Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente and the University of California, San Francisco Medical School looked at follow 17,760 patients with diabetes who received care from Kaiser Permanente in Northern California between January 2006 and December 2010. The patients were registered users of Kaiser’s personal health record (PHR), My Health Manager and had been prescribed cholesterol-lowering medications.
The researchers divided the study subjects into three groups based on their use of the portal to order refills of the medications. There were those who never used the refill function online, the occasional users, and the exclusive users. Among the exclusive users, non-adherence and poorly controlled cholesterol declined by 6 percent.
"This research is an important step in understanding the benefits of portals beyond convenience," the study’s lead author Urmimala Sarkar, M.D., an assistant professor at University of California San Francisco, said in a statement. "Given the clear connection between medication adherence and improved health outcomes, this study provides insight into how online portals may improve health outcomes."