Study: Patients With Access to EMRs Tend to Use More Services

Patients with online access to medical records and clinicians tended to use more clinical services than those without access, according to a study in Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers studied the use of clinical services by members of Denver-based Kaiser Permanente Colorado, a group model, integrated healthcare delivery system. The study period was from March 2005 through June 2010. KPCO added an online feature called MyHealthManager to its electronic medical record, KP HealthConnect, in May 2006. MHM allows members to securely access their health records, including test results, immunization records, active medications, medical problem lists and care plans.

Compared to members who did not access MHM, patients who accessed the online service had increased rates of office visits, telephone encounters, after-hours clinic visits, emergency department encounters and hospitalizations over the study period.

"Overall, our findings suggest that the relationship between online access and utilization is more complex than the simple substitution of online for in-person care suggested by earlier studies," the authors wrote. "If these findings are evident in other systems, health care delivery planners and administrators will need to consider how to allocate resources to deal with increased use of clinical services."

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