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Tablet distribution to veterans: an opportunity to increase patient portal adoption and use.

Griffin AC, Troszak LK, Van Campen J, Midboe AM, Zulman DM. Tablet distribution to veterans: an opportunity to increase patient portal adoption and use. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA. 2022 Dec 13; 30(1):73-82.

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OBJECTIVE: Examine whether distribution of tablets to patients with access barriers influences their adoption and use of patient portals. MATERIALS AND METHODS: This retrospective cohort study included Veterans Affairs (VA) patients (n = 28 659) who received a VA-issued tablet between November 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021. Tablets included an app for VA's My HealtheVet (MHV) portal. Veterans were grouped into 3 MHV baseline user types (non-users, inactive users, and active users) based on MHV registration status and feature use pre-tablet receipt. Three multivariable models were estimated to examine the factors predicting (1) MHV registration among non-users, (2) any MHV feature use among inactive users, and (3) more MHV use among active users post-tablet receipt. Differences in feature use during the 6 months pre-/post-tablet were examined with McNemar chi-squared tests of proportions. RESULTS: In the 6 months post-tablet, 1298 (8%) non-users registered for MHV, 525 (24%) inactive users used at least one MHV feature, and 4234 (46%) active users increased feature use. Across veteran characteristics, there were differences in registration and feature use post-tablet, particularly among older adults and those without prior use of video visits (P < .01). Among active users, use of all features increased during the 6 months post-tablet, with the greatest differences in viewing prescription refills and scheduling appointments (P < .01). CONCLUSION: Providing patients who experience barriers to in-person care with a portal-enabled device supports engagement in health information and management tasks. Additional strategies are needed to promote registration and digital inclusion among inactive and non-users of portals.

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