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Am J Med Qual. 2012 Nov-Dec;27(6):494-502. doi: 10.1177/1062860611436246. Epub 2012 Apr 18.

Consistency of patient preferences about a secure Internet-based patient communications portal: contemplating, enrolling, and using.

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  • 1University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, USA.


Internet-based secure communication portals (portal) have the potential to enhance patient care via improved patient-provider communications. This study examines differences among primary care patients' perceptions when contemplating using, enrolling to use, and using a portal for health care purposes. A total of 3 groups of patients from 1 Midwestern academic medical center were surveyed at different points in time: (1) Waiting Room survey asking about hypothetical interest in using a portal to communicate with their physicians; (2) patient portal Enrollment survey; and (3) Follow-up postenrollment experience survey. Those who enroll and use a patient portal have different demographic characteristics and interest levels in selected portal functions (eg, e-mailing providers, viewing medical records online, making appointments) and initially perceive only limited improvements in care because of the portal. These differences have potential market implications and provide insight into selecting and maintaining portal functions of greater interest to patients who use the portal.

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