Empowering Patients during Hospitalization: Perspectives on Inpatient Portal Use.

McAlearney AS, Fareed N, Gaughan A, MacEwan SR, Volney J, Sieck CJ
Appl Clin Inform 10 103-112 01/01/2019


BACKGROUND:  Patients have demonstrated an eagerness to use portals to access their health information and connect with care providers. While outpatient portals have been extensively studied, there is a recognized need for research that examines inpatient portals.

OBJECTIVE:  We conducted this study to improve our understanding about the role of a portal in the context of inpatient care. Our study focused on a large sample of the general adult inpatient population and obtained perspectives from both patients and care team members about inpatient portal use.

METHODS:  We interviewed patients (

RESULTS:  The perspectives of patients and care team members generally converged on their views of the inpatient portal. Three features-(1) ordering meals, (2) looking up health information, and (3) viewing the care team-were most commonly used; the secure messaging feature was less commonly used and of some concern to care team members. The inpatient portal benefited patients in four main ways: (1) promoted independence, (2) reduced anxiety, (3) informed families, and (4) increased empowerment.

CONCLUSION:  Inpatient portals are recognized as a tool that can enhance the delivery of patient-centered care. In addition to empowering patients by increasing their sense of control, inpatient portals can support family members and caregivers throughout the hospital stay. Given the consistency of perspectives about portal use across patients and care team members, our findings suggest that inpatient portals may facilitate shifts in organizational culture that increase the patient centeredness of care and improve patient experience in the hospital context.

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