Secure patient-physician e-mail messaging improves the effectiveness of care for patients with diabetes and hypertension, according to new research by Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente. The study, published in the July issue of Health Affairs, shows that health information technology improves quality of care scores.
The study observed 35,423 patients with diabetes, hypertension, or both, in Kaiser Permanente’s Southern California region, finding that use of secure patient-physician messaging in any two-month period was associated with statistically significant improvements in HEDIS (Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set) care measurements. Results included 2.0 percentage-points to 6.5 percentage- points improvements in glycemic, cholesterol and blood pressure screening and control.
More than 556,000 secure patient-physician e-mail threads, containing more than 630,000 messages, were logged throughout the study. Patients initiated 85 percent of those threads, which shows that health IT is empowering patients to better manage their healthcare. Kaiser Permanente’s secure e-mail tool, called “E-mail my doctor,” is one of the most popular features of the My Health Manager comprehensive personal health record. My Health Manager, used by more than 3 million Kaiser Permanente members, provides patients with secure and timely access to lab test results, medication information and refill capabilities, summaries of their health conditions, appointment scheduling, and other important health information.