Patient Portal Messaging, Tele-Visits Do Not Affect In-Person Physician Visit Frequency, Say Mayo Researchers

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Communicating with patients through patient portals or by telemedicine does not have a significant impact on the number of patients' in-person physician visits, according to a study in Telemedicine and e-Health.

Researchers from the Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic conducted retrospective cohort study of 2,357 primary care patients who used both secure messaging and e-visits through an online patient portal during the study period. Researchers then analyzed each patient's in-person visit frequency before and after the introduction of the patient portal.

Results showed there was no significant change in the frequency of in-person visits before and after the introduction of the patient portal (a mean of 1.81 visits per year before the portal, 1.76 visits per year after). Patients who used the patient portal the most had the highest number of in-person visits both before and after the patient portal was introduced, further suggesting the online interactions have little effect on the frequency of in-person visits.

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