Retrospective cohort study.
To examine patient portal use among the surgical spine patient population across different sociodemographic groups and assess the impact of patient portal use on clinical outcomes.
Summary of Background Data:
Patient portals (PP) have been shown to improve outcomes and quality of care. Engaging them requires internet access, technological literacy, and dexterity, which may serve as access barriers.
After exclusion criteria were applied, the study included data for 9211 encounters from 7955 patients. PP utilization was defined as having activated and used the Duke University Medical Center patient portal system, MyChart, at least once. Sociodemographic characteristics included urbanicity, age, race, ethnicity, language, employment, and primary insurer. Clinical outcomes included the length of hospital stay during the procedure, 30-day return to the emergency department, 30-day readmission, and being discharged somewhere other than home.
Being older than 65, non-White, unemployed, non–English-speaking, male, not-partnered, uninsured or publicly insured (Medicaid, Medicare and under 65 years of age, or other government insurance), and living in a rural environment were all risk factors for decreased PP utilization among surgical spine patients. A one-risk factor decrease in the number of social risk factors was associated with a 78% increase in the odds of PP utilization [odds ratio (OR): 1.78; 95% Confidence interval (CI): 1.69–1.87; P<0.001]. Patients not utilizing the portal at the time of their procedure had higher odds of 30-day readmission (OR: 1.59; 95% CI: 1.26–2.00), discharge somewhere other than home (OR: 2.41, 95% CI: 1.95–2.99), and an increased length of hospital stay (geometric mean ratio: 1.21; 95% CI: 1.12–1.30) compared with those who utilized it.
In patients undergoing spine procedures, PPs are not equally utilized among different sociodemographic groups. PP utilization is also associated with better outcomes. Interventions aimed at increasing PP uptake may improve care for certain patients.