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Patient Portals a Helping Hand for Families

A new study – designed with the direct assistance of Kaiser Permanente members who use shows just how valuable the patient portal has become for helping family members to participate in each other’s care.

Kaiser Permanente has offered its members an online patient portal ( for more than a decade, allowing them to conveniently access health care information, communicate with clinicians, refill prescriptions, schedule appointments, and more. The portal provides the opportunity to set up accounts for assisting family members with their health care.

In a survey, more than a quarter (27.5 percent) of 1,392 health-plan members with chronic conditions who were registered to use also used it to help a family member.

Mary Reed, DrPh

“We were interested to see such a high rate in our system,” said Mary E. Reed, DrPH, research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research. “Studies of portal use in other health care systems found rates as low as 1 percent.”

More than 60 percent of those who cared for family members via the portal were using it for a spouse, a third for a child or grandchild, and 11 percent for a parent or grandparent. Furthermore, 94 percent of members who used the portal to help family member said it was more convenient than other ways of participating in another person’s health care, and 92 percent said it was faster.

To read more on the study, check out the full story on the Northern California’s Division of Research “Spotlight.

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