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Secure Messaging: Demonstration and Enrollment Patient Portal Program: Patient Portal Use in Vulnerable Populations.

Vulnerable populations face challenges gaining access to quality healthcare, which places them at a high risk for poor health outcomes. Using patient portals and secure messaging can improve patient activation, access to care, patient follow-up adherence, and health outcomes. Developing and testing quality improvement strategies to help reduce disparities is vital to ensure patient portals benefit all, especially vulnerable populations. This quality improvement initiative aimed to increase enrollment in a patient portal, use secure messages, and adhere to follow-up appointments. Before the project, no patients were enrolled in the portal at this practice site. Over 8 weeks, 61% of invited patients were enrolled in the patient portal. Eighty-five percent were Medicaid recipients, and the others were underinsured. Eight patients utilized the portal for secure messaging. The follow-up appointment attendance rate was better in the enrolled patients than in those who did not enroll. The majority of survey respondents reported satisfaction in using the patient portal. Patient portal utilization and adoption in vulnerable groups can improve when a one-on-one, hands-on demonstration and technical assistance are provided.

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