Patient portals are designed to be tools to more fully engage patients in their health care and help enable them to better manage their own health information. As the U.S. health care system rapidly adopted electronic health records (EHRs) over the past decade, many with linked patient portals, enthusiasm and expectations for this new technology as a means to engage and empower patients grew. Most patient portals have a set of core features designed to facilitate health care transactions, information tracking, and communication with care team members. The evidence supporting the anticipated benefits of patient portals on patient outcomes, however, remains mixed and incomplete. Moreover, a paradox exists in that, despite a high consumer interest in patient portals, widespread adoption remains relatively low. Potential reasons include the need for greater provider endorsement, examination and adaptation of clinical workflows, and the recognition of patient engagement as a reciprocal process.
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