News Feature | July 10, 2015

Do Portals Improve Patient Knowledge?

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Medical Records

According to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, patient portals did not have a great impact on patient medical knowledge.

While portals are seen as essential to engaging patients, one study found the use of such technology had little impact on their medical knowledge. The study, published by the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, indicates patients using portals on tablets had no better knowledge of their healthcare and treatment than those without access to the portal.

Researchers hypothesized at the beginning of the study that access to the portal, “would result in greater knowledge of team members' names and roles, planned tests and procedures, medications, and higher patient activation."

Fierce Mobile Healthcare reports researchers gave 100 patients a tablet equipped with a portal app at Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital to be used for the duration of their stay. The tablets displayed information about the patients’ active medications, medical team, and scheduled tests and procedures.

iHealth Beat explains the results showed that, of patients in the portal app group:

  • 80 percent reported using the app at least once during the study period
  • 57 percent reported using it more than once each day
  • 20 percent reported not using the app

Of those who were patients in the app group, 76 percent said the app was easy to use and 71 percent of patients in the app group said it provided useful information. In addition, 56 percent of patients in the app group could name one or more of their doctors, compared with just 29 percent of those without the app. Forty-seven percent of patients in the app group knew the role of at least one of their physicians, compared with 16 percent of those without the app.

Despite knowing their care team better, those in the app group were not any more likely to know more about their own care or treatment than those without the app.

“In conclusion, implementation of tablet computers with a mobile patient portal application improved hospitalized patients’ knowledge of physician team members but had no impact on their knowledge of aspects of the plan of care or activation,” concluded researchers. “Additional steps are needed to engage hospitalized patients in learning about their plan of care, which may better prepare them for self-management after discharge.”