Objective: During pregnancy, the information needs of patients are high and effective information sharing between patients and health care providers is of particular importance. We conducted a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effect of providing pregnant women with secure access to their antenatal health records on their uptake of, and satisfaction with, relevant information.
Methods: Women presenting to a primary care maternity centre before 28 weeks' gestation were randomized to receive access either to a secure website with links to general pregnancy health information alone (GI group) or to the same website with access to their own antenatal health record (PI group). Primary outcomes included frequency of use, and satisfaction with and perceived usefulness of the web-based information.
Results: We approached 199 women regarding participation in the study; 193 agreed to participate, and 97 were randomized to the PI group and 96 to the GI group. The mean number of log-ins to the website in the PI group subsequently was almost six times the number of log-ins in the GI group (10.4 +/- 17.8 vs. 1.8 +/- 1.4; P < 0.001), and 84.2% of log-ins in the PI group accessed the antenatal health record. The responses of participants to questions about the website's ease of use and value in providing information about pregnancy indicated a high level of satisfaction, with no significant difference in responses between groups.
Conclusion: Pregnant patients are prepared to use a health information website and web-based health records. When personal information is provided there is greater use than when general pregnancy information alone is provided. Given the almost universal availability of the Internet, this option has the potential for wider application to patient-related outcomes.