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Patients Are Not Taking Advantage of EHR Portals


The portals can help patients better understand their conditions.


Electronic health record (EHR) data revealed that there is a large disparity between patient groups who use the patient portal, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

After analyzing the data, researchers found that the highest rates of viewing laboratory and radiology results were from females, patients aged 0 to 11 years old and 18 to 60 years old. These patients self-reported their race as Caucasian or Asian.

Teenagers, patients older than 81 years old, African American and Hispanic patients had the lowest rates of portal usage.

“Efforts to promote patient portals in the (emergency department) can focus on the benefits of accessing information such as diagnostic testing and discharge summaries,” the study authors wrote. “This may help patients better understand their conditions as well as bring information and questions to future healthcare encounters.”

The research team analyzed the activation and use of the patient’s EHR portal at an emergency department. The retrospective analysis took place between October 2016 and 2017.

The study had two primary measures:

  • Analyzing patient portal activation rates for patients seen at the medical center emergency department who had one or more diagnostic tests performed.
  • Analyzing viewing patterns of diagnostic test results within the patient portal.

The dataset for laboratory tests consisted of more than 208,600 tests performed in the emergency department on more than 25,300 unique patients. Approximately 37% of those patients had an active portal.

Infectious disease, urinalysis and pregnancy testing made up the largest number of viewed laboratory tests.

The radiologic imaging data included more than 23,500 studies on more than 14,400 unique patients with almost 38% having an active portal.

Magnetic resonance imaging reports constituted more views than computed tomography or X-ray studies.

Patients generally reviewed diagnostic test results within 72 hours of availability in the patient portal. But 19.9% of laboratory results and 31.6% of radiology reports were viewed more than two weeks after availability.

Overall, patients viewed 8.97% of the reports from radiologic imaging studies and 8.90% of laboratory tests.

“Opportunities for improvement exist for both activation and more robust utilizations of patient portals by (emergency department) patients,” the study authors wrote.

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