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Patients like Web-based health records that enable them to communicate with their providers about care-specific issues

Web-based electronic health records that allow patients to communicate with their providers about laboratory test results, medications, and care plans may help meet patients' needs, according to a new study. Providing patients with online medical record services that were integrated with clinical care was associated with Web site access, use, and patient satisfaction, notes James D. Ralston, M.D., M.P.H., of the Seattle-based Group Health Cooperative.

Dr. Ralston and colleagues retrospectively measured the adoption and use of a patient Web site by Group Health patients from September 2002 through December 2005, and randomly surveyed 2,002 of the patients as well. As of December 2005, one-fourth of all Group Health members had registered and completed an identification verification process to use the MyGroupHealth Web site.

Patients most used the site to review medical test results (54 monthly users per 1,000 adult members), medication refills (44 per 1,000), after-visit summaries (32 per 1,000), and patient-provider clinical messaging (31 per 1,000). Also, 94 percent of those who responded to the survey were satisfied or very satisfied with the MyGroupHealth Web site overall. Patients were satisfied or very satisfied with medication refills (96 percent), patient-provider messaging (93 percent), and medical test results (86 percent).

Tight integration of Web services with clinical information systems and patient-provider relationships may be a useful vehicle for meeting the needs of patients, conclude the researchers. The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS14625).

More details are in "Patient Web services integrated with a shared medical record: Patient use and satisfaction," by Dr. Ralston, David Carrell, Ph.D., Robert Reid, M.D., Ph.D., and others, in the November/December 2007 Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association 14(6), pp. 798-806.

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