Objectives: Adverse drug events (ADEs) are common in ambulatory care and may result from poor patient-physician communication about medication-related symptoms. A module was developed within an electronic patient portal that was designed to enhance communication about medication symptoms and, in turn, reduce ADEs and health-care utilization.
Methods: The researchers conducted a randomized, controlled clinical trial of MedCheck, an automated electronic message generated in a patient Internet portal. MedCheck asked intervention patients if they had filled a recent prescription and if they had experienced any problems with the medication. Patients’ responses were forwarded automatically to primary care physicians. The study enrolled 375 intervention patients and 363 controls. After 3 months, the investigators reviewed patients’ medical records and conducted telephone interviews to identify ADEs and to assess health-care utilization.
Results: Among the 375 intervention patients, 184 (49%) responded to at least 1 MedCheck message. Patients reported 52 unfilled prescriptions and 56 medication problems. Patients responded to 72% of messages within 1 day. There was no statistically significant difference between intervention and control groups in the rate of ADEs, preventable or ameliorable ADEs, serious ADEs, or in subjects’ health-care utilization.
Conclusions: Internet portals have the potential to enhance patient-physician communication. However, additional development is required to demonstrate that such interventions can improve medication safety or health-care utilization.