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Direct release of test results to patients increases patient engagement and utilization of care

Pillemer, F and Price, RA and Paone, S and Martich, GD and Albert, S and Haidari, L and Updike, G and Rudin, R and Liu, D and Mehrotra, A (2016) Direct release of test results to patients increases patient engagement and utilization of care. PLoS ONE, 11 (6).

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An important focus for meaningful use criteria is to engage patients in their care by allowing them online access to their health information, including test results. There has been little evaluation of such initiatives. Using a mixed methods analysis of electronic health record data, surveys, and qualitative interviews, we examined the impact of allowing patients to view their test results via patient portal in one large health system. Quantitative data were collected for new users and all users of the patient portal. Qualitative interviews occurred with patients who had received an HbA1c or abnormal Pap result. Survey participants were active patient portal users. Our main measures were patient portal usage, factors associated with viewing test results and utilizing care, and patient and provider experiences with patient portal and direct release. Usage data show 80% of all patient portal users viewed test results during the year. Of survey respondents, 82.7%noted test results to be a very useful feature and 70% agreed that patient portal has made their provider more accessible to them. Interviewed patients reported feeling they should have direct access to test results and identified the ability to monitor results over time and prepare prior to communicating with a provider as benefits. In interviews, both patients and physicians reported instances of test results leading to unnecessary patient anxiety. Both groups noted the benefits of results released with provider interpretation. Quantitative data showed patient utilization to increase with viewing test results online, but this effect is mitigated when results are manually released by physicians. Our findings demonstrate that patient portal access to test results was highly valued by patients and appeared to increase patient engagement. However, it may lead to patient anxiety and increase rates of patient visits. We discuss how such unintended consequences can be addressed and larger implications for meaningful use criteria.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Pillemer, F
Price, RA
Paone, Sspaone@pitt.eduSPAONE
Martich, GD
Albert, Ssmalbert@pitt.eduSMALBERT0000-0001-6786-9956
Haidari, L
Updike, Ggmu1@pitt.eduGMU1
Rudin, R
Liu, D
Mehrotra, A
ContributionContributors NameEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Date: 1 June 2016
Date Type: Publication
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Journal or Publication Title: PLoS ONE
Volume: 11
Number: 6
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1371/journal.pone.0154743
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
School of Medicine > Medicine
Refereed: Yes
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2016 14:52
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2021 16:55


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