Designing for Demographics-Optimizing the Usability of Patient Portals (Maryland)

This project does not have any related annual summary.
This project does not have any related publication.
This project does not have any related event.
This project does not have any related resource.
This project does not have any related survey.
This project does not have any related project spotlight.
This project does not have any related survey.
This project does not have any related story.
This project does not have any related emerging lesson.

Project Details - Ongoing

Summary:

Patient portal use benefits both patients and healthcare systems. Those who use portals are more engaged in their healthcare and experience improved health outcomes. Healthcare systems that offer portals have experienced decreased costs by reducing needless services and excessive administrative burdens. Despite these benefits, most of the U.S. population does not access or use them, especially elderly populations, racial and ethnic minorities, patients with low literacy levels, and safety net populations. Studies of barriers to use suggest usability issues and a lack of understanding of the unique needs of population subgroups.

Portals may be customized to meet the needs of patients. Implementation of design guidelines on how to meet the nuanced needs of a specific patient population may increase usage rates among those groups. This research will identify and characterize the factors differentiating users from non-users within the same demographic subgroup. To best characterize users, specific usability issues will be aligned with lessons learned from situations where portal application has been successful.

The specific aims of the research are as follows:

  • To survey five population subgroups with varying levels of patient portal use to characterize engagement and identify preferences. 
  • To conduct usability evaluations using personas to assess the extent to which three existing patient portal products meet the needs of diverse patients. 
  • To disseminate standard design and development documents and lessons learned through publications, presentations, personas, and guidelines. 

Engaging patients as active participants in their healthcare is an important step in improving healthcare safety and quality. Through characterizing portal users and identifying usability issues, this research may help reduce the disparities in health outcomes seen in those populations that traditionally do not use patient portal users.