Patient portal users 50% more likely to get flu shot, study finds

Patients who use online platforms linked to EHRs are far more likely to take preventive health measures, like getting a flu shot or checking blood pressure, than patients who don't use patient portals, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research

Researchers analyzed 2014-16 data from 10,000 patients ages 50 and older at the University of Pennsylvania Health System in Philadelphia. They found roughly 59 percent of patients used the health system's online portal. Portal users had a 50 percent higher chance of receiving the flu shot and were twice as likely to get their blood pressure checked.

Researchers also found portal users were younger and had higher incomes than non-users.  The proportion of Caucasian patients was significantly higher in portal users (73 percent) than in non-users (53 percent).

"We did see some healthcare access issues," lead author Jing Huang, PhD, assistant professor of biostatistics at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a news release. "There is substantial work that still needs to be done in order to get more patients — and patients from a wider range of populations — to use these kinds of online healthcare services."

Though researchers found portal use was associated with increased preventive health behaviors, they did not find meaningful differences in the prevalence of chronic illness. 

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Patients who use online platforms linked to EHRs are far more likely to take preventive health measures, like getting a flu shot or checking blood pressure, than patients who don't use patient portals, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

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