A study of Kaiser Permanente patients with diabetes over four years finds those using a patient portal to refill medications had higher adherence rates and improved cholesterol levels.

The study, published in the journal Medical Care, followed 17,760 diabetic patients receiving care in Kaiser’s Northern California division between January 2006 and December 2010. All the patients were registered users of the My Health Manager patient portal within Kaiser’s electronic health records suite of software, and had been prescribed medications to lower cholesterol.

Patients in the study were divided into three groups: a control group that never used the portal to order refills, a group that used it occasionally or at least once, and a group that exclusively used the portal for refills. The average age of patients was 62 years and 40 percent were non-white minorities. The studied patients had an average of more than six chronically used medications and 11 outpatient visits annually, according to the published study. “Medication non-adherence and poorly controlled cholesterol declined by six percent among exclusive users of the online refill function, compared to occasional users or non-users.”

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