Oakland, Calif. - Web-based options are playing a larger role in doctor-patient interaction, notes Kaiser Permanente. The Oakland, Calif., health insurer released a study that was published in the American Journal of Managed Care and describes how secure e-mail changes the way patients choose to access medical care. "Patient access to electronic health record with secure messaging: impact on primary care utilization" examines the use of secure e-mail between Kaiser Permanente members and physicians.  According to the study: Patients with online access to an electronic health record (EHR) are choosing to use secure e-mail, thereby decreasing the number of primary care office visits and telephone contact rates. The study noted that the use of secure e-mail linked to an EHR decreased annual adult primary care outpatient visit rates by 7 to 10% and led to 14% fewer phone contacts than those not using online services.  "The access to personal health management tools, including secure email is helping our members get care how and when they want it," states Yvonne Zhou, PhD, one of the authors of the study. "It is valuable to have been able to document an evolving trend that shows consumers are choosing to replace office visits and phone calls with electronic communication with their doctors." More than 1.4 million Kaiser Permanente members are registered to use the company's secure online services. Since launching secure e-mail services, more than 2.7 million e-mail messages have been sent to providers.  Source: PR Newswire

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