Patient Use of the Electronic Communication Portal in Management of Type 2 Diabetes

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Abstract

High incidence and prevalence of type 2 diabetes require urgent attention to the management of this chronic disease. The purpose of this study was to explore electronic communication (e-communication) between patients with type 2 diabetes and their providers within the patient portal. Qualitative design with conventional content analysis techniques was used. A purposive random sample of 90 electronic medical record charts of patient-portal users with type 2 diabetes was subjected to a retrospective review. The sample mainly consisted of patients between the ages of 50 and 70 years, who were white, non-Hispanic, and English-speaking. The three major themes that emerged in e-communication via patient portal were inform theme, which was the most frequently identified theme; instruct/request theme, which was mainly used in initiation of e-communication; and the question theme. The patient portal was used primarily for requests by patients and instruction by providers, showing relatively short e-message encounters with a high number of partially completed encounters, frequent lack of resolution, and a low level of involvement of diabetes specialists in e-communication. There is a need to revise healthcare system guidelines on initiation and use of e-communication via patient portal and develop standardized templates to promote diabetes education in type 2 diabetes.

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