Patient Race/Ethnicity and Shared Medical Record Use Among Diabetes Patients

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Abstract

Background:

Previous studies have documented racial/ethnic differences in patients’ use of websites providing shared electronic medical records between patients and health care professionals. Less is known about whether these are driven by patient-level preferences and/or barriers versus broader provider or system factors.

Methods:

Cross-sectional study of diabetes patients in an integrated delivery system in 2008–2009. Primary measures were race/ethnicity and shared medical record (SMR) use. Covariates included sociodemographics (age, sex, income, education), health status (comorbidity, diabetes severity), and provider characteristics (encouragement of SMR, secure messaging use, clinic).

Results:

The majority (62%) of Whites used the SMR, compared with 34% of Blacks, 37% of Asians, and 55% of other race/ethnicity (P<0.001). Most respondents (76%) stated that their provider had encouraged them to use the SMR, with no differences by race/ethnicity. Patients saw primary care providers who used a similar amount of secure messaging in their practices—except Asians, who were less likely to see high-messaging providers. In fully adjusted models, Blacks [odds ratio (OR), 0.18; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.11–0.30] and Asians (OR, 0.40; 95% CI, 0.20–0.77) were significantly less likely than Whites to use the SMR. When restricted to individuals reporting at least occasional Internet use, this finding remained for Black respondents (OR, 0.25; 95% CI, 0.10–0.63).

Conclusions:

Among diabetes patients, differences in SMR use by race/ethnicity were not fully explained by differences in age, sex, sociodemographics, health status, or provider factors—particularly for Black patients. There were few racial/ethnic differences in provider encouragement or provider secure messaging use that would have suggested disparities at the provider level.

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