News Feature | January 22, 2014

EHRs, Portals Increase Patient Engagement

Source: Health IT Outcomes
Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Patient Portal

Ohio State University researchers discover increase in vaccinations when providers communicate with through EHRs and portals

Less than 15 percent of those 60 and older - the population most likely to contract the shingles virus - are vaccinated against it. A research team from The Ohio State University, led by Stuart Beatty, a pharmacist with Ohio State's College of Pharmacy, says that the low vaccination rate is due to a combination of factors including lack of awareness, cost, access to clinics able to store the fragile vaccine, and the fact that face-to-face appointments don't offer enough time to discuss shingles.

According to Science Daily, Beatty’s team conducted a six-month study that “used electronic medical record (EMR) data to identify more than 2,500 patients over the age of 60 without a documented herpes zoster vaccination. Some were randomized to receive information about shingles via a secure email linked to their online personal health record (PHR) or a mailed postcard, while others received no information outside what they may have gotten in a routine doctor visit.

“Pharmacists then reviewed the EMRs of patients who had received emails or mailed information to identify eligible vaccine candidates, and then sent them a vaccination prescription via standard mail, along with a list of local pharmacies that offered the vaccine. Vaccine fulfillment was tracked by reports submitted to the team by local pharmacists.”

The study found, “Patients with an active PHR that received email information on shingles had the highest vaccination rate of 13.2 percent compared to a rate of 5 percent for patients with an active PHR that did not receive the email information. For patients that did not have an active PHR but did receive mailed information, the vaccination rate was 5.2 percent compared to a rate of 1.8 percent for patients without an active PHR and received no information.”

Patients who read the notification through their personal health record had the highest rate of vaccination at 13.2 percent.  Only five percent of patients with portal access but without a special notification were vaccinated. The mailed postcard resulted in 5.8 percent vaccination; only 1.8 percent of those who were not contacted about the virus were vaccinated, as reported.

Health IT Analytics quotes Neeraj Tayal, MD, an Ohio State Wexner Medical Center general internist who participated in drafting the study, as saying, “It took pharmacists a matter of minutes to review the chart and mail out a prescription. This saved the physician time, the patient time, and improved the overall health of our patients. By utilizing pharmacists as members of a care team, many perceived logistical barriers were managed and overcome.

“While it’s too early to tell whether EMRs will save money, our intervention model shows there are opportunities to manage chronic and preventable illnesses, prevent medication interactions, and integrate team-based care in ways that would result in better care and cost savings.”

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