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J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2018 Apr 1;25(4):408-412. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocx088.

An environmental scan of shared access to patient portals.

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Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.
University of Hawaii John A Burns School of Medicine, Honolulu, HI, USA.
Family Caregiver Advocacy, Kensington, MD, USA.
Clinical Innovation, Advanced Application Development Team, Geisinger Health System, Danville, PA, USA.
Health Sciences Research, Division of Health Care Policy and Research, and Robert D and Patricia E Kern Scientific Director in the Center for the Science of Healthcare Delivery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.


We sought to understand the comprehensiveness of consumer-oriented information describing the availability of shared access to adult patient portals from publicly reported information on institutional websites of 20 large and geographically diverse health systems. All 20 health systems reported that they offer patients the ability to share access to their patient portal account with a family member or friend; however, the comprehensiveness of information regarding registration procedures, features, and terminology varied widely. Half of the systems (nā€‰=ā€‰10) reported having shared access available on their patient portal registration webpage. Few systems (nā€‰=ā€‰2) reported affording patients the ability to differentiate specific role-based privileges. No systems reported uptake of shared access among adult patients, which was variably described as "proxy," "caregiver," "parental," or "delegate" access. Findings suggest that engaging families through health information technology will require greater efforts to promote awareness and differentiate privileges that respect patients' choice and control in information-sharing preferences.


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