A Kaiser Permanente study of nearly 35,500 diabetic and hypertensive patients in Southern California found that use of secure patient-physician e-mail communications resulted in a significant improvement in several disease-control measures.
According to the study, "Improved Quality at Kaiser Permanente Through E-mail Between Physicians and Patients," published in the July issue of Health Affairs, patients who used the e-mail feature—part of Kaiser's personal health-record portal—experienced between a 2% and 6.5% improvement in screening and control of their glycemic levels, cholesterol and blood pressure. The retrospective, longitudinal study reviewed patient records and e-mail correspondence recorded between February 2005 and December 2008.
Yi Yvonne Zhou, senior manager of health information technology transformation and analytics for Kaiser Permanente, Portland, Ore., was the study's lead author. A previous study by Zhou published in the American Journal of Managed Care in 2007 found that patients who used secure e-mail to communicate with their doctors were 10% less likely to schedule an office visit and 14% less likely to contact their physicians by phone than those not using the e-mail service.