Power and Convenience of Kaiser Permanente Electronic Health Record Drives Member Retention
July 30, 2012 — Patients with online access to key components of the electronic health record’s patient portal, My Health Manager, are 2.6 times more likely than nonusers to remain Kaiser Permanente members, according to a study published in The American Journal of Managed Care this month.
The study, which looked at 394,000 eligible members in Kaiser Permanente’s Northwest region, showed that the use of My Health Manager was associated with a greater likelihood to voluntarily
retain membership. The study adjusts for natural biases due to age, gender, illness burden, chronic condition, and tenure with a health plan. Even after accounting for these known biases, there was a strong and statistically significant impact of patient portal use on patient satisfaction, demonstrating that this level of connectivity now rises to the level of influencing health plan choices and care option decisions.
A Kaiser Permanente member for 60 years, Elizabeth Heberling, Camas, Wash., says that having an instant connection to her physician and 24/7 access to convenient health management tools is
one of the reasons she remains a happy and faithful member. "I feel more connected with my doctor because of kp.org," she said. "I send messages online, and we can stay in touch using the computer."
My Health Manager is Kaiser Permanente’s PHR linked to its comprehensive electronic health record system, Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect. My Health Manager users can access their health records, view lab test results, email their physicians, order prescriptions and make, change and cancel appointments for themselves or for family members.
“We have always known that our members find these online tools convenient and empowering, but now we have proof that these offerings actually increase member loyalty and can improve the relationships between patients and their physicians,” said Christine Paige, senior vice president for marketing and Internet services. “We want to provide health care and preventive services to our members throughout every season of their lives, so we are pleased to know that members are likely to stay a part of the Kaiser Permanente family thanks to the technological tools we offer.”
More than 63 percent of eligible members now use the convenient online health management tools to take charge of their health. On average, more than 1 million secure email messages are sent to Kaiser Permanente doctors and clinicians each month, and nearly 2.5 million lab test results are viewed online, making these two of the most popular features on My Health Manager.
The benefits of My Health Manager adoption go beyond member loyalty. According to a 2011 Kaiser Permanente study, nine out of 10 patients with chronic conditions agreed the website enables them to more effectively manage their conditions. Patients also reported that the website helps them make informed decisions about their health and makes it more convenient for them to interact with their care teams.
“Previous studies have shown us that use of an online patient portal correlates with improvements in care quality and a decrease in unnecessary in-person office visits with use of secure email,” said Terhilda Garrido, vice president of HIT Transformation & Analytics and co-author of the study. “This new finding confirms that EHR patient portals are a triple win — increased efficiency for patients and providers, improved quality of care, and now patient satisfaction that leads to increased loyalty to Kaiser Permanente and their clinicians.”
Data on national member adoption and usage of My Health Manager online tools show that patients in all Kaiser Permanente regions find the health management tools on kp.org valuable. According to Kaiser Permanente member Kristen Batten, Alameda, Calif., having such quick and easy access to her providers via email enriches the doctor-patient relationship, resulting in increased loyalty to Kaiser Permanente. "I have a connection with my doctor that I've never been able to have before,” said Batten. “I feel like at any given moment she's there for me."
Kaiser Permanente recently made 9 million health records securely available on mobile devices with a mobile-optimized website and iPhone and Android health management apps. Since its launch in late January, the mobile-optimized kp.org website received more than 8 million visit sessions, accounting for 16 percent of total traffic to kp.org in the month of May. The health care organization’s Android app has had nearly 126,499 downloads since Jan. 24 and its iPhone app has had more than 109,463 downloads since May 8.
A key differentiating feature of My Health Manager is its direct connection to KP HealthConnect, one of the most robust and sophisticated electronic health records in the world. By providing
consumers with access to the same clinical information their doctors see, and with unique tools to interact with their providers and health plan, My Health Manager allows patients to become more engaged in their own health care, going well beyond the standard PHRs populated solely by claims data.
My Health Manager is a free service available to all Kaiser Permanente members. Members can visit kp.org/register to sign up to activate and access their personal health records, then download the health management app on their iPhone or Android devices.
To view the study in its entirety, please visit: http://www.ajmc.com/articles/Association-Between-Personal-Health-Record-....