Patients with online access to medical records use more clinical services

Patients who have online access to their medical records use clinical services more than those without online access, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For the study, researchers examined the use of healthcare services by patients enrolled in Kaiser Permanente Colorado for the year before and the year after online access to medical records became available.  The study found in the year following activation, patients with access to their health records had increased rates of office visits, telephone encounters, after-hours clinic visits, emergency department visits, and hospitalizations than members without online access.  This group of patients also had higher rates of telephone encounters and office visits than they did the previous year, before online access became available.

The authors suggest that further research is needed to evaluate reasons for the increased use found in this study.

(Sources: AHA News Now, http://ahanews.com, November 21, 2012; Journal of the American Medical Association, http://jama.jamanetwork.com, November 2012)