Background: For patient-oriented mobile health tools to contribute meaningfully to improving healthcare delivery, widespread acceptance and use of such tools by patients are critical. However, little is known about patients' attitudes toward using health technology and their willingness to share health data with providers.
Aims: To investigate primary care patients' comfort sharing health information through mobile devices, and patients' awareness and use of patient portals.
Methods: Patients (n=918) who visited one of 6 primary care clinics in the Northwest US completed a survey about health technology use, medical conditions, and demographics.
Results: More patients were comfortable sharing mobile health information with providers than having third parties store their information (62% vs 30%, Somers D=.33, p<0.001). Patients older than 55 years were less likely to be comfortable sharing with providers (AORs 0.37-0.42, p<0.01). Only 39% of patients knew if their clinic offered a patient portal; however, of these, 67% used it. Health literacy limitations were associated with lower portal awareness (AOR=0.55, p=0.005) but not use. Portal use was higher among patients with a chronic condition (AOR= 3.18, p=0.004).
Conclusion: Comfort, awareness, and use of health technologies were variable. Practices introducing patient-facing health technologies should promote awareness, address concerns about data security, and provide education and training, especially to older adults and those with health literacy limitations. Patient-facing health technologies provide an opportunity for delivering scalable health education and self-management support, particularly for patients with chronic conditions who are already using patient portals.
Keywords: Health information technologies; Health literacy; Mobile health; Primary health care.