News Feature | March 11, 2014

Portal Use Has No Effect On Office Visit Frequency

Source: Health IT Outcomes
Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Patient Portal Use

Study shows no change in frequency of office visits for patients using messaging services through patient portals

According to study posted on Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., researchers at the Mayo Clinic found, “No significant change in face-to-face visit frequency was observed following implementation of portal messaging. Secure messaging and e-visits through a patient portal may not result in a change of adult primary care face-to-face visits.”

MobiHealth News reports the retroactive study of more than 2,300 patients “looked at three different data points, e-visits, office visits, and secure messages.” The study found a slight decrease in annual visits per patient from 1.97 visits per year in 2009 to 1.87 visits per year in 2011. “But overall, patients who used secure messages frequently did not change the frequency of their office visits and those who sent at least one e-visit message did not change their visit frequency.

“Patients with comorbid conditions, or chronic conditions, also did not change the frequency of their office visits, even though researchers said they expected this group to decrease the frequency of office visits if patient portal messaging was offered.”

“The portal has been promoted as a way to decrease administrative costs of appointment scheduling and handling of medication refills,” researchers wrote in the report. “Patient portal secure messaging is increasingly being viewed as necessary to satisfy patient expectations and to provide a competitive advantage in the move toward accountable care.”

“Each patient served as his or her own control, so that each patient’s yearly appointment frequency before the first portal message could be matched with the same patient’s appointment frequency after the message,” explained researchers.

The Mayo Clinic team concluded, “No significant change in face-to-face visit frequency was observed following implementation of portal messaging. Secure messaging and e-visits through a patient portal may not result in a change of adult primary care face-to-face visits.”