Age and race may determine whether cancer patients access their electronic health records
A single-center study showed that some cancer patients were less likely to enroll in a patient portal that allows them to access their electronic health records (EHRs). The study was published in JAMA Oncology.1
The data showed that black patients were 44% less likely to enroll than white patients, and patients in their 40s were 36% less likely to enroll than patients aged 18 to 29.
Researchers followed 266,917 patients who first visited the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Cancer Center from 2012, when the center adopted the Patient Portal, through 2020. The researchers analyzed self-reported patient demographics, as well as patient enrollment rates and the number of days between their initial visit and portal registration.
“[Enrollment] is one of the first natural steps to consider, ”in terms of understanding how patients interact with EHRs, said study author Julian C. Hong, MD, MS, assistant professor in the department of radiation oncology and Bakar Computational Health Sciences Institute at UCSF. .
Researchers found that some groups, especially men and patients between the ages of 18 and 29, had lower enrollment rates initially, but those rates eventually caught up with the higher enrollment rates seen among women. and patients aged 30 to 39 years.
Groups over 39 took longer to enroll and never caught up with younger groups, and enrollments declined with age, especially for patients 80 and older, noted Dr. Hong.
Enrollment rates were initially lower in black patients and patients for whom English was not their primary language, compared to white patients and native English speakers, respectively. These differences persisted throughout the study.
Other studies have described age and racial disparities in the use of EHRs in various patient populations, and research suggests that the disparities may be more pronounced at the enrollment level.2
An analysis of cancer patients at an academic medical center in the southern United States showed that younger patients and white patients were more likely than other age and racial groups to use the portal, primarily for viewing test results and respond to clinic messages.3
However, a study that observed racial and age disparities among those who signed up for the Patient Portal showed no racial disparities in portal use among those who signed up.4