Kaiser Permanente: Online access to health info helps close gaps in care

Health plan members are more likely to engage in preventive care measures when able to access their health information online and receive alerts on gaps in care, according to a Kaiser Permanente study.

Consumers who use Kaiser's Online Personal Action Plan, which provides access to health data and sends emails if members need preventive care, are more likely to see closure of care gaps, especially in a few specific areas.

For example, portal users were 9 percent more likely to have mammograms, 6 percent more likely to receive a Pap smear and 12 percent more likely to schedule HbA1c testing for diabetes.

Some keys to increasing use of portals in the healthcare industry are orderliness and clarity of design. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association found that the biggest factor that lead to acceptance of the tools was simplicity of use.

"[The] study demonstrates that by creating a customized and personalized communication to patients about their care needs, healthcare providers can directly engage patients and close important gaps in care, particularly for preventive screenings for cancer," the study's lead author, Shayna L. Henry, Ph.D., of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation, said in an announcement.

Payers are increasingly leveraging technology to help reach their consumers. In an interview with FierceHealthPayer last fall, Aetna's Chief Innovation and Digital Officer Michael Palmer detailed the insurer's digital strategy, which includes mobile apps and health literacy.

In addition, preventive care also can help save insurers money. Anthem Blue Cross of California saved almost $8 million in just one year by emphasizing preventive care.

To learn more:
- here's the study
- read the announcement

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