63% of patients don't use online portals, study finds


Nearly two-thirds of insured patients do not use online portals to communicate with physicians, according to a study published in Health Affairs.

For the study, researchers examined data on a nationally representative group of 2,325 insured patients who responded to the 2017 Health Information National Trends Survey. 

Sixty-three percent of patients said they had not used a patient portal during the past year, and 60 percent said they were not offered access to a portal. 

Men, Medicaid recipients, people who lacked a regular physician and those with less than a college education were most likely to report not using patient portals. People who said they were not offered portal access had similar characteristics. Nonwhites were also less likely to report being offered access to a portal.

The main reasons for not using online portals included patients' preference to speak directly to a physician (70 percent), not having an online medical record (30 percent), issues with internet access (25 percent) and privacy concerns (22 percent).

"Previous research has shown there are real benefits to portal use. Patients become more engaged in their own health and really stick to their treatments," senior author Denise Anthony, PhD, a professor of health management and policy at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, told Reuters. "However, new treatments in healthcare, and new technologies in general, can end up increasing inequality."

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