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The Impact of E-Visits on Visit Frequencies and Patient Health: Evidence from Primary Care

34 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2013 Last revised: 29 Jul 2017

Hessam Bavafa

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Lorin M. Hitt

University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department

Christian Terwiesch

University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department

Date Written: July 28, 2017

Abstract

Secure messaging, or "e-visits," between patients and providers has increased sharply in recent years, and many hope they will help improve healthcare quality while increasing provider capacity. Using a panel dataset from a large healthcare system in the United States, we find that e-visits trigger about 6% additional office visits, with mixed results on phone visits and patient health. These additional visits come at the sacrifice of new patients: physicians accept 15% fewer new patients each month following e-visit adoption. Our dataset on nearly 100,000 patients spans from 2008 to 2013, which includes the rollout and diffusion of e-visits in the health system we study. Identification comes from difference-in-differences estimates leveraging variation in the timing of e-visit adoption by both patients and providers. We conduct several robustness checks, including matching analyses and an instrumental variable analysis to account for possible time-varying characteristics among patient e-visit adopters.

Keywords: health care operations, health information technology, secure messaging, e-visits, patient portals

Suggested Citation

Bavafa, Hessam and Hitt, Lorin M. and Terwiesch, Christian, The Impact of E-Visits on Visit Frequencies and Patient Health: Evidence from Primary Care (July 28, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2363705 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2363705

Hessam Bavafa (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin-Madison ( email )

975 University Ave
4284C Grainger Hall
Madison, WI 53706
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://bus.wisc.edu/faculty/hessam-bavafa

Lorin Hitt

University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department ( email )

571 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-898-7730 (Phone)
215-898-3664 (Fax)

Christian Terwiesch

University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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