A recent Mayo Clinic study reveals secure messages and electronic visits (‘‘e-visits’’) through patient portals had no significant impact on adult primary care face to face visits, iHealthBeat reports.
The study found that patients sending the most messages had higher numbers of face to face visit both before and after implementation of messaging; however, the frequency of their visits did not change.
The study published in the journal Telemedicine and e-Health examined 2,357 primary care patients who used electronic messaging (both secure messages and e-visits) on a patient portal. The cohort comprised all adult primary care patient portal users in Rochester, MN. who also had at least one primary care office visit within the study time interval. Face-to-face appointment frequencies (visits/year) of each patient were calculated before and after the first message in a matched-pairs analysis. The study was approved by the Mayo Clinic Institutional Review Board.
Other key findings of the study include:
- Longer time of portal message familiarity and use was also not associated with a significant change in appointment frequency.
- Important patient subgroups also showed no significant change in office visit frequency
- Patients who had at least one e-visit also had no change in visit frequency
- Although patients with comorbid conditions (Charlson index 1 or more) might seem a likely group to decrease visits through portal messaging, they also did not change their face-to-face visit frequency.
- Longer time of portal message familiarity and use was also not associated with a significant change in appointment frequency
- Only 17% of patients had a median message response time of over 24 h, and they had no significant increase in appointment frequency.
- Patients with a short media message response time (4h or less) also did not show a change in appointment frequency.
- Compared with face-to-face visits, portal messages are limited in the amount and type of information obtained from the patient.
- Nine percent of the patients sending messages accounted for 36% of the total messages.
- Patients with the highest message counts still had high appointment frequencies both before and after messaging