How can health care organizations evaluate their patient portals based on likelihood of patient use to assist in developing their portal strategy going forward? Restricted; Files Only

Sprouse, Elizabeth (Fall 2017)

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Patient portals are becoming standard in health care. While limited research has been conducted, much still needs to be learned about the efficacy and impact of patient portals to effectively engage patients in their health care. Patient portals – secure, online tools patients can use to manage their care and engage with their providers – need to be actively studied to determine how to increase technology acceptance and their usage.  

Health care systems and hospitals are faced with competing priorities when it comes to technology planning, and this remains true for patient portals. However, how can organizations go about evaluating their patient portals to help them develop a technology strategy for this tool going forward? There is a need to develop a scoring system for evaluating patient portals based on the likelihood of patients using them to assist in this challenge.

The purpose of this research effort was to develop such a scorecard to arm health care leadership with the ability to strategically design and implement patient portals that patients will use, leading to potential positive impacts in patient care, outcomes and activation – all areas currently under research.

An academic literature review was conducted, and 10 qualitative phone interviews were held with health care leaders throughout the United States to understand their portal implementation efforts and perspectives.

The proposed scorecard is divided into several areas, including: features, design, content understanding, technical aspects and assistance, and operational considerations. Organizations receive an individual score for each section and a compiled score. The overall score gives a picture of how the organization scored at an aggregate level; however, it is the individual scores that can assist organizations in focusing on areas of portal improvement and actionable steps (e.g., implementing certain features, fostering provider support of the tool, ensuring patient help using the portal) to increase patient usage and engagement.

This scoring approach provides a clear process for organizations to use when evaluating their current portals on likelihood of patient use and allocating future work in strategic areas that may drive patients to actively use their portals. Using this scoring approach may lead to improved design and implementation, leading to increased use and, thus, potential positive impacts patients may receive from engaging electronically in their care.

Table of Contents

Introduction - 1

Background - 5

Methods - 15

Results - 21

Discussion and final scorecard - 34

Limitations - 41

Conclusion - 42

Executive Memorandum - 44

Appendix 1: Academic Literature Review and Interview References - 45

Appendix 2: References Used in the Development of the Scorecard

Appendix 3: Visuals, Tables and Interview Guide - 51

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