A Kaiser Permanente study shows patients with diabetes and/or hypertension who use secure e-mail to communicate with their physicians control their diseases better those who don't electronically communicate.

Kaiser's southern California district identified 455,133 members with one or both diseases, 35,423 of whom used secure e-mails. More than 556,000 e-mails threads with 630,000 messages were logged during the study with patients initiating 85 percent of the threads. The top topics in the messages addressed changes in a health condition, lab results, a new condition, drug dosage adjustments and the need for a new prescription.

Results showed statistically significant improvements during any two-month period in HEDIS care measurements, according to Kaiser. Results included two percent- to six percent-point improvements in glycemic, cholesterol and blood pressure screening and control. Messaging patients also were less likely to schedule an office visit or contact their physician by telephone.

Study results, titled, "Improved Quality at Kaiser Permanente Through E-Mail Between Physicians and Patients," are published in the July issue of Health Affairs.

--Joseph Goedert


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