Background and objectives: Electronic patient portals are increasingly common, but there is little information regarding attitudes of faculty and residents at academic medical centers toward them.
Methods: The primary objective was to investigate attitudes toward electronic patient portals among primary care residents and faculty and changes in faculty attitudes after implementation. The study design included a pre-implementation survey of 39 general internal medicine and family medicine residents and 43 generalist faculty addressing attitudes and expectations of a planned patient portal and also a pre- and post-implementation survey of general internal medicine and family medicine faculty physicians. The survey also addressed email communication with patients.
Results: Prior to portal implementation, residents reported receiving much less e-mail from patients than faculty physicians; 68% and 9% of residents and faculty, respectively, reported no email exchange in a typical month. Residents were less likely to agree with allowing patients to view selected parts of their medical record on-line than faculty physicians (57% and 81%, respectively). Physicians who participated in the portal's pilot implementation had expected workload to increase (64% agreed), but after implementation, 87% of those responding were neutral or disagreed that workload had increased. After implementation, only 33% believed quality of care had improved compared to 55% who had expected it to improve prior to implementation.
Conclusions: Residents and faculty physicians need to be prepared for a changing environment of electronic communication with patients. Some positive and negative expectations of physicians toward enhanced electronic access by patients were not borne out by experience.