Background:

Understanding patterns of MyChart (Epic Systems Corporation) messaging has the potential to alter clinical practice. However, because most research evaluating its use has been conducted in limited contexts, utilization patterns in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) remain unclear. We characterized factors associated with high rates of MyChart messaging for patients with MS at an academic outpatient clinic.

Methods:

We performed a retrospective cross-sectional analysis of 439 patients in our center’s database. Inclusion criteria were 1 or more clinic visits and MS diagnosis. We extracted demographic data, disease-specific characteristics, and MyChart messaging information.

Results:

Of the patients in the database, 324 (74%) were MyChart users. MyChart users were more often younger (mean ± SD age, 50.1 ± 12.6 vs 55.0 ± 13.7 years; P < .001), had shorter mean ± SD duration since diagnosis (11.9 ± 8.3 vs 15.8 ± 10.8 years; P = .0013), had lower mean ± SD Patient-Determined Disease Steps scale scores (2.8 ± 2.3 vs 3.5 ± 2.5; P = .0107), and were more likely to be using high-efficacy disease-modifying therapies (χ21,323 = 6.7; P = .009). Messaging rates correlated positively with total number of unique medications (R = 0.17; P = .003) and negatively with age (R = −0.11; P = .018).

Conclusions:

Although previous research has implicated arm-hand disability and impaired vision as barriers to patient portal use, these findings suggest the relationship between MS-specific disease burden and MyChart utilization is also a function of underlying medical complexity beyond physical disability. These data may serve as groundwork for investigations in other disease-specific settings and for quality improvement research to mitigate these high rates in at-risk patients to optimize provider time investment, clinic productivity, and patient safety and minimize health care provider burnout.

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