Most industries use online access to content as a form of "lead generation" to increase access and utilization (consumption) of their goods and services. Why should health care be any different? Online access to health records is a complementary good that increases the cross elasticity of demand for health care.
Online Access to Personal Health Records Increases Use of Services — Physician’s First Watch
Online Access to Personal Health Records Increases Use of Services
Patients with online access to personal health records unexpectedly increased their use of most clinical services, according to a JAMA study. Previous studies found the opposite effect.
The retrospective cohort study involved some 44,000 users of Kaiser Permanente Colorado's MyHealthManager who were matched to members who did not establish accounts. Matching was based on members' history of office visits.
Compared with nonusers, users had an increased rate of office visits in the year following activation of their MyHealthManager account, a difference of 0.7 per member per year. Similarly, telephone encounters, after-hours clinic visits, emergency department visits, and hospitalizations all rose significantly. Among patients with coronary artery disease, use of services did not increase.
Editorialists call the findings "sobering for patient portal enthusiasts." They speculate that the reason for the discrepancy between this and earlier studies may have to do with regional differences in healthcare delivery.