Individuals who e-mailed their physicians experienced better outcomes on management of two chronic diseases than people who did not e-mail, according to a new study of Kaiser Permanente patients, the Sacramento Bee reports (Peyton Dahlberg, Sacramento Bee, 7/7).
The study, published in the July edition of Health Affairs, examined 35,423 Kaiser patients in Southern California who have diabetes, high blood pressure or both. Researchers reviewed about 556,000 e-mail threads containing more than 630,000 e-mail messages (Kaiser Permanente release, 7/7).
The study was conducted between 2005 and 2008 (Sacramento Bee, 7/7).
The study found that patients initiated 85% of the e-mail exchanges (Kaiser Permanente release, 7/7).
Eighty-eight percent of patients with diabetes who e-mailed their physicians had control of their blood sugar levels at the end of 2008, compared with 83% of diabetics who did not e-mail.
The study also found that 73% of patients who e-mailed received screenings for retinopathy -- an eye problem associated with diabetes -- compared with 70% of patients who did not e-mail (Sacramento Bee, 7/7).
Among patients who e-mailed their physicians, the study authors also recorded improvements in cholesterol control and screening, blood pressure levels and screening for kidney disease. The more frequently e-mails were exchanged, the greater the health improvements, researchers noted (Gardner, HealthDay, 7/7).
E-mailing may help strengthen the relationship between patients and physicians, the authors suggested. They also noted that patients who are likely to e-mail their physicians might be more inclined to better manage their own care (Sacramento Bee, 7/7).