Electronic medical record-based cohort selection and direct-to-patient, targeted recruitment: Early efficacy and lessons learned

Hailey N. Miller, Kelly T. Gleason, Stephen P. Juraschek, Timothy B. Plante, Cassie Lewis-Land, Bonnie Woods, Lawrence J. Appel, Daniel E. Ford, Cheryl R. Dennison Himmelfarb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: The study sought to characterize institution-wide participation in secure messaging (SM) at a large academic health network, describe our experience with electronic medical record (EMR)-based cohort selection, and discuss the potential roles of SM for research recruitment. Materials and Methods: Study teams defined eligibility criteria to create a computable phenotype, structured EMR data, to identify and recruit participants. Patients with SM accounts matching this phenotype received recruitment messages. We compared demographic characteristics across SM users and the overall health system. We also tabulated SM activation and use, characteristics of individual studies, and efficacy of the recruitment methods. Results: Of the 1 308 820 patients in the health network, 40% had active SM accounts. SM users had a greater proportion of white and non-Hispanic patients than nonactive SM users id. Among the studies included (n = 13), 77% recruited participants with a specific disease or condition. All studies used demographic criteria for their phenotype, while 46% (n = 6) used demographic, disease, and healthcare utilization criteria. The average SM response rate was 2.9%, with higher rates among condition-specific (3.4%) vs general health (1.4%) studies. Those studies with a more inclusive comprehensive phenotype had a higher response rate. Discussion: Target population and EMR queries (computable phenotypes) affect recruitment efficacy and should be considered when designing an EMR-based recruitment strategy. Conclusions: SM guided by EMR-based cohort selection is a promising approach to identify and enroll research participants. Efforts to increase the number of active SM users and response rate should be implemented to enhance the effectiveness of this recruitment strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1209-1217
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jul 22 2019


  • cohort selection
  • direct messaging
  • electronic medical records
  • patient portal messaging
  • research recruitment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


Dive into the research topics of 'Electronic medical record-based cohort selection and direct-to-patient, targeted recruitment: Early efficacy and lessons learned'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this