Patients’ perceptions of portal use across care settings: Qualitative study

Ann Scheck McAlearney, Cynthia J. Sieck, Alice Gaughan, Naleef Fareed, Jaclyn Volney, Timothy R. Huerta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background: Patient portals are a promising instrument to improve patient-centered care, as they provide patients information and tools that can help them better manage their health. The implementation of portals in both the inpatient and outpatient setting gives health care providers an opportunity to support patients both during hospitalization and after discharge. Thus, there is a need to better understand how inpatient and outpatient portals are used across care contexts. Objective: This study aimed to examine patients’ perceptions of using inpatient and outpatient portals across the care settings, including how they used the portals and the benefits and concerns associated with portal use. Methods: This study was conducted in a large Midwestern academic medical center consisting of seven hospitals. We interviewed 120 patients who had used an inpatient portal during their hospitalization, at 15 days and 6 months postdischarge, to determine their perspectives of portal use in both hospital and outpatient settings. Interview transcripts were analyzed inductively and deductively by using team coding processes consistent with a grounded theory approach. Results: Interviews focused on three main areas of portal use: experience with the portal features, perceived benefits, and concerns. Responses at 15 days (n=60) and 6 months (n=60) postdischarge were consistent with respect to perceptions about portal use. Patients identified viewing their health information, managing their schedule, and communicating with providers as notable activities. Convenience, access to information, and better engagement in care were indicated as benefits. Concerns were related to technology issues and privacy/security risks. Conclusions: Implementation of inpatient portals as a complement to outpatient portals is increasing and can enable patients to better manage aspects of their care. Although care processes vary substantively across settings, the benefits of convenience, improved access to information, and better engagement in care provide opportunities for portal use across care settings to support patient-centered care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13126
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Informatics


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