Designing User-Centric Patient Portals: Clinician and Patients' Uses and Gratifications

Telemed J E Health. 2017 Mar;23(3):248-253. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2016.0096. Epub 2016 Jun 22.


Background: Legislation mandates that clinicians make patients' medical information available digitally. This has resulted in hurriedly installing patient portals that do not fully meet the needs of patients or clinicians. This study examined a specific portal, MyPreventiveCare (MPC), a patient-centered portal designed to promote preventive care to consumers, to elicit recommendations from patients and clinicians about how it could be more beneficial by uncovering their uses and gratifications (U&G).

Materials and methods: In-depth interviews with 31 patients and two clinician focus groups were conducted. Multiple methods were utilized, such as grounded theory coding to develop themes and content analysis to classify responses according to the U&G framework.

Results: Four main categories emerged that users desire to be included in health portals: integration with technology (27%), coordination of care (27%), incorporation of lifestyle (26%), and increased control (20%). Additional analysis revealed that health portals are mainly utilized to fulfill cognitive and affective needs, with over 80% of recommendations related to the U&G categories of cognitive and affective needs. Cognitive (60%), affective (21%), social integrative (10%), personal integrative (9%), and tension release (0%).

Conclusions: Portals will continue to evolve and become important health communication tools if they address the user's perspective and are inclusive of new technological advances. Specifically, portals must become more user centric and incorporate aspects of the patients' lifestyle and integrate health information technology.

Keywords: e-health; education; medical records; technology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Access to Information*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Communication / methods*
  • Health Records, Personal*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Informatics
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Portals*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Telemedicine / methods*