Document Type


Publication Date


Focus Area

Medical Practice Transformation


Background: Patients frequently utilize portal messaging to reach their healthcare provider.1 This mode of communication allows for greater patient engagement in health concerns.2 MyChart messaging has grown recently, increasing physician workload.3,4 Understanding patient preferences for MyChart messaging may improve patient communication, potentially decreasing the response burden on physicians.

Methods: A 12-question REDCap survey was sent via MyChart message to 31,502 patients in 8 UVM Health Network (UVMHN) affiliated adult primary care and family medicine practices. Survey data were analyzed in excel.

Key Results: The survey was completed by 2011 (6.4%) patients, with 77% of respondents having used MyChart to ask their provider a question. MyChart messaging is always or often (69.1%) the first method patients use to contact their healthcare provider with 22% submitting urgent concerns. There is a significant association between when a patient prefers to receive a message and the time it takes providers to respond to their message (p < 0.001). On average, patients would prefer to not restrict MyChart messaging to business hours.

Discussion: Patients prefer prompt message responses from their providers and providers are meeting this preference. Future work could better observe the relationship between provider response time and patient preferences for physician response time. Data from Epic should be analyzed to determine if patient perceptions align with MyChart message records. Other efforts should include educating patients about appropriate messages to send via MyChart, or if a phone call is warranted.

1 North F, Luhman KE, Mallmann EA, Mallmann TJ, Tulledge-Scheitel SM, North EJ, Pecina JL. A Retrospective Analysis of Provider-to-Patient Secure Messages: How Much Are They Increasing, Who Is Doing the Work, and Is the Work Happening After Hours? JMIR Med Inform. 2020 Jul 8;8(7):e16521. doi: 10.2196/16521.

2 Avdagovska M, Ballermann M, Olson K, Graham T, Menon D, Stafinski T. Patient Portal Implementation and Uptake: Qualitative Comparative Case Study. J Med Internet Res. 2020;22(7):e18973.

3 Arndt BG, Beasley JW, Watkinson MD, et al. Tethered to the EHR: Primary Care Physician Workload Assessment Using EHR Event Log Data and Time-Motion Observations. Ann Fam Med. 2017;15(5):419-426.

4 Laccetti AL, Chen B, Cai J, et al. Increase in Cancer Center Staff Effort Related to Electronic Patient Portal Use. J Oncol Pract. 2016 (12):e981- e990.


AHEC Scholars Summer Project

Poster presented by Kristen Karpowicz and Julie Scholes, LCOM class of 2026, at ACP Vermont Chapter Annual Scientific Meeting on Friday, September 29, 2023.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.