Online Health Records Less Used by Minorities, Poor

Low-income patients, blacks, and Hispanics less likely to use Internet personal health record

WEDNESDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- Online personal health records (PHRs) are less frequently used by racial or ethnic minorities and patients with low annual income, according to a study published in the March 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Cyrus K. Yamin, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from 75,056 patients to compare the demographic characteristics of those registering to use PHRs (adopters) with those who were offered a PHR by a physician but did not register (nonadopters). The intensity of PHR use was measured by the number of logins and secure messages sent, and was analyzed according to demographic characteristics and chronic diseases.

The investigators found that 43 percent of patients adopted PHRs between 2002 and 2009, and an aggressive marketing strategy increased adoption three-fold (odds ratio [OR], 2.92). PHRs were less likely to be adopted by blacks and Hispanics than whites (ORs, 0.50 and 0.64, respectively), and by lower annual income patients than higher income ones. Adopters were more likely to have more than two comorbidities than nonadopters (OR, 1.27). The number of comorbidities, race or ethnicity, and insurance status predicted the intensity of use, but no association was found between income and intensity of use.

"We found the presence of the digital divide in a diverse population. Specifically, racial/ethnic minorities and patients with lower socioeconomic status were less likely to adopt a PHR," the authors write.

One of the study authors disclosed a financial relationship with a medical device company.

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