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Am J Manag Care. 2015 May 1;21(5):e329-37.

True "meaningful use": technology meets both patient and provider needs.

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829 Gates Building, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 3600 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19104. E-mail:



Voluntary patient uptake and use of electronic health record (EHR) features have been low. It is unknown whether EHRs fully meet needs of providers or patients with chronic diseases.


To explore in-depth user experiences, we conducted 6 focus groups: 3 of patients followed by 3 of providers discussing 2 key EHR components: the after-visit summary (AVS) and the patient portal (PP). Focus groups were audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed by 3 independent coders.


Participants with moderate-to-severe asthma and prevalent comorbidities were recruited from 4 primary care and 2 asthma clinics serving low-income urban neighborhoods. Participants discussed their expectations and experience using the AVS and PP, and responded to prototype formats of these features. Additionally, one-on-one interviews were conducted with 10 patients without PP experience to assess their ability to use the system.


The 21 patient and 13 provider perspectives differed regarding AVS features and use. Patients wanted a unified view of their medical issues and health management tools, while providers wanted to focus on recommendations from 1 visit at a time. Both groups advocated improving the AVS format and content. Lack of awareness and knowledge about the PP was patients' largest barrier, and was traced back to providers' lack of PP training.


Our results underscore the importance of user-centered design when constructing the content and features of the EHR. As technology evolves, an ongoing understanding of patient and provider experiences will be critical to improve uptake, increase use, and ensure engagement, optimizing the potential of EHRs.

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