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Effective patient–provider communication is a cornerstone of patient-centered care. Patient portals provide an effective method for secure communication between patients or their proxies and their health care providers. With greater acceptability of patient portals in private practices, patients have a unique opportunity to manage their health care needs. However, studies have shown that less than 50% of patients reported accessing the electronic health record (EHR) in a 12-month period. We used HINTS 5 cycle 1 and cycle 2 to assess disparities among US residents 18 and older with any chronic condition regarding the use of EHR for secure direct messaging with providers, to request refills, to make clinical decisions, or to share medical records with another provider. The results indicate that respondents with multimorbidity are more likely to share their medical records with other providers. However, respondents who are 75 and older are less likely to share their medical records with another provider. Additionally, respondents who are 65 and older are less likely to use the EHR for secure direct messaging with their provider. Additional health care strategies and provider communication should be developed to encourage older patients with chronic conditions to leverage the use of patient portals for effective disease management.


This work was originally published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, available at

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (



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