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

February 20, 2020

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

The study’s lead author was Ilana Graetz, PhD, associate professor at the Rollins School of Public Health. “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,” said Graetz. 

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 usage was associated with a 5.09 percentage point increase in percent of days covered by medication and 0.19 percentage point lower HbA1c level.