Research Horizons


Patient Portal Messaging Can Help Practices Catch Up with Well-Child Visits

Emerging form of reminder communication helps more children receive vaccines and preventive services missed during COVID-19

Pediatricians try pretty much everything to remind families to keep up with well-child visits. In Cincinnati, primary care providers are finding some success at using online patient portals as a tool for delivering reminders that get noticed.

In a study involving more than 900 families, those who received messages were up to twice as likely to schedule and complete appointments for care that was delayed during the pandemic, according to findings published Nov. 18, 2022, in JAMA Network Open. The study was led by corresponding author Anne Berset, BA, and senior author William Brinkman, MD, MEd, MSc.

Improvements also occurred whether the messages were generic or customized, which suggests that standard messages can be distributed easily to large numbers of families without burdening office staff. Providers say they are excited about this approach because many have worried about children falling behind on childhood vaccinations and other key health checks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have hard-wired this process into our system for more than 30,000 patients we see at the primary care practices operated by the Division of General & Community Pediatrics,” Brinkman says.

Cincinnati Children’s also serves more than 130,000 children via HealthVine, a Medicaid accountable care provider network. Next steps include sharing this strategy with practices participating in HealthVine.

“We think this approach might also be valuable to other children’s hospitals around the country who serve similar populations,” Brinkman says.

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Publication Information
Original title: Effect of Electronic Outreach Using Patient Portal Messages on Well Child Care Visit Completion
Published in: JAMA Network Open
Publish date: Nov. 18, 2022
Read the Study