Study: Patient Portal Access Did Not Improve Medical Care Knowledge

June 25, 2015 in News

Patients who were given access to their medical care information through a patient portal application did not have a greater understanding of their care and treatment than those without access to the app, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, FierceMobileHealthcare reports (Mottl, FierceMobileHealthcare, 6/22).

Study Details

For the study, researchers developed a mobile patient portal app that displayed pictures and information about their:

  • Active medications;
  • Medical team; and
  • Scheduled tests and procedures (O’Leary et al., JAMIA, 6/15).

The researchers provided a tablet computer with the portal app to 100 patients at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago and compared their knowledge of their care with a control group of 102 patients at the hospital.

Study Findings

Among patients in the app group:

  • 80% reported using the app at least once during the study period;
  • 57% reporting using it more than once each day (Comstock, MobiHealthNews, 6/23); and
  • One-fifth said they did not use the app.

In addition, the survey found:

  • 76% of patients in the app group said the app was easy to use; and
  • 71% of patients in the app group said it provided useful information (FierceMobileHealthcare, 6/22).

The study found that patients in the app group were more likely to know the names and roles of their medical team. Specifically, the study found:

  • 56% of patients in the app group could name one or more of their doctors, compared with 29% of those without the app; and
  • 47% of patients in the app group knew the role of at least one of their physicians, compared with 16% of those without the app (MobiHealthNews, 6/23).

However, the survey found no significant difference in patients’ knowledge of their own care or treatment between the two groups.

The researchers said, “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” (FierceMobileHealthcare, 6/22).

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