Effect of an Internet-based system for doctor-patient communication on health care spending

J Am Med Inform Assoc. Sep-Oct 2005;12(5):530-6. doi: 10.1197/jamia.M1778. Epub 2005 May 19.


We studied the effect of a structured electronic communication service on health care spending, comparing doctor office and laboratory spending for a group of patients before and after the service became available to them relative to changes in a control group. In the treatment group, doctor office spending and laboratory spending fell in the period after the service became available, relative to the control group (p < 0.05). A rough estimate is that average doctor office spending per treatment group member per month fell $1.71 after availability of the service, and laboratory spending fell roughly $0.12. Spending associated with use of the electronic service was $0.29 per member per month. We conclude that use of structured electronic visits can reduce health care spending.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • California
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / economics
  • Communication*
  • Female
  • Health Expenditures*
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Preferred Provider Organizations