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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Emory: When Patients with Diabetes Used Online and Mobile Tools, They Managed Their Disease Better

Emory University and Kaiser Permanente study found improved health outcomes after portal, phone app use.

Diabetes patients who used the Kaiser Permanente patient portal and mobile phone app improved their diabetes management outcomes, according to an analysis published Feb. 19 in JAMA Network Open.

The large study, involving more than 111,000 patients, and was unique in linking online tools with health outcomes such as medication adherence and blood glucose levels, said senior author Dr. Mary Reed, a research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research.

The study’s lead author was Dr. Ilana Graetz, an associate professor in the Emory University Department of Health Policy and Management. “Patients with greater clinical need were able to benefit even more from mobile portal access, both in taking their medications more often and in actually improving blood sugar levels,” Dr. Graetz said.

The study looked at Kaiser Permanente Northern California patients with diabetes who were taking an oral diabetes medication but not insulin. The researchers compared patients’ portal use from 2015 to 2017.

Over the 33-month study period, the proportion of patients using the portal from both a computer and a mobile device increased from 34 percent to 62 percent. The greatest improvement in health outcomes was among patients with a higher baseline hemoglobin A1c level; in these patients, moving from no portal access to both computer and mobile app was associated with a 5.09 percentage point increase in percent of days covered by medication and 0.19 percentage point lower HbA1c level.

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