Most Kentuckians don’t communicate with doctors electronically; most are confident about access to pricing information for care

Most Kentuckians don’t communicate with their doctor electronically, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll.

The poll, taken Oct.8-Nov.6, found that 73 percent of Kentuckians have not communicated with their doctor using text, email or a website during the last year. A national poll found similar results.

This finding was consistent in all age groups, but there was a difference among socioeconomic groups.

Seventy-nine percent of those whose incomes are 200 percent of the federal poverty level or below said they had no electronic communication with their doctor in the past year, but only 66 percent of those above this level said they had had no electronic contact. In 2013, 200 percent of poverty level was $47,100 for a family of four.
Electronic communication with doctors was most common in Northern Kentucky and least common in Eastrern and Western Kentucky.
The Kentucky Health Information Exchange, the hub that connects participating providers with each other to share health information via certified electronic health records, is now working to connect patients to their electronic health records via a pilot program.

Research has found that patients who are better informed about their health and health care cost are more engaged with their health, according to the release.

Patients at UKHealthCare who have access to their “patient portals” seven days after discharge are an example of how few Kentuckians are engaging with their health care provider via electronics.

“About 8 to 10 percent of hospitalized patients look at their patient portals, of our inpatients,”Dr. Carol Steltenkamp, chief medical information officer at UKHealthCare, said in a phone interview “We would love for that to increase.”

Steltenkamp said that patients often don’t understand how to use their portals and that the hospital is working diligently to educate them.

The poll also found that most Kentuckians think they can find out what doctors charge for treatments and procedures if they need this information, finding 36 percent extremely or very confident that they could find out how much treatments and procedures cost; 34 percent moderately confident and 28 percent not too confident or not confident at all. These answers did not vary by income, age or region.

The poll is conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati and was funded by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health, formerly the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati. It surveyed a random sample of 1,597 adults via landline and cell phone, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

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