Disparities in Electronic Health Record Patient Portal Use in Nephrology Clinics. Academic Article uri icon


  • Electronic health record (EHR) patient portals allow individuals to access their medical information with the intent of patient empowerment. However, little is known about portal use in nephrology patients. We addressed this gap by characterizing adoption of an EHR portal, assessing secular trends, and examining the association of portal adoption and BP control (<140/90 mmHg).Patients seen between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2012, at any of four university-affiliated nephrology offices who had at least one additional nephrology follow-up visit before June 30, 2013, were included. Sociodemographic characteristics, comorbidities, clinical measurements, and office visits were abstracted from the EHR. Neighborhood median household income was obtained from the American Community Survey 2012.Of 2803 patients, 1098 (39%) accessed the portal. Over 87% of users reviewed laboratory results, 85% reviewed their medical information (e.g., medical history), 85% reviewed or altered appointments, 77% reviewed medications, 65% requested medication refills, and 31% requested medical advice from their renal provider. In adjusted models, older age, African-American race (odds ratio [OR], 0.50; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.39 to 0.64), Medicaid status (OR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.36 to 0.77), and lower neighborhood median household income were associated with not accessing the portal. Portal adoption increased over time (2011 versus 2010: OR, 1.38 [95% CI, 1.09 to 1.75]; 2012 versus 2010: OR, 1.95 [95% CI, 1.44 to 2.64]). Portal adoption was correlated with BP control in patients with a diagnosis of hypertension; however, in the fully adjusted model this was somewhat attenuated and no longer statistically significant (OR, 1.11; 95% CI, 0.99 to 1.24).While portal adoption appears to be increasing, greater attention is needed to understand why vulnerable populations do not access it. Future research should examine barriers to the use of e-health technologies in underserved patients with CKD, interventions to address them, and their potential to improve outcomes.Copyright © 2015 by the American Society of Nephrology.

publication date

  • October 2015