Background: Notifying patients of gonorrhea and chlamydia test results using online services may improve clinic efficiency and increase receipt of test results. This study evaluated the implementation of an online results system in an urban sexually transmitted infections clinic.
Methods: Using the clinic's electronic medical records system to assess if and how gonorrhea and chlamydia test results were obtained, 3 time periods were examined between December 2007 and April 2009: Period 1, six months before initiation of the online results system; Period 2, six months when patients could opt in for online results by creating their own access codes; and Period 3, four months when access codes were assigned. In addition, a survey was conducted to assess reasons for accepting or declining the online results system.
Results: A total of 9056 new patient visits were evaluated. During Periods 1, 2, and 3, respectively 67%, 67%, and 70% patients received results either online or by telephone (NS). The proportion of patients calling the clinic for results decreased from 67% in Period 1, to 51% in Period 2, and 36% in Period 3 (P < 0.0001). Survey results indicated that patients accepted online results primarily because of the ability to check results anytime of day. Reasons for not accepting results online included lack of Internet access or a preference to receive results via the telephone.
Conclusions: The online results system decreased the number of phone calls to the clinic pertaining to STI test results, but had no effect on the overall proportion of patients receiving results.