Inpatients Sign On: An Opportunity to Engage Hospitalized Patients and Caregivers Using Inpatient Portals

Med Care. 2019 Feb;57(2):98-100. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000001043.


Background: Inpatient portals are online patient portals linked to electronic health records that provide hospitalized patients and caregivers secure access to real-time clinical information and tools to enhance their communication with providers and hospital experience.

Objective: The main objective of this commentary was to provide a perspective that inpatient portals are innovative tools poised to engage patients and caregivers during hospitalization and, thus, enhance patient-centered care.

Results: Inpatient portals are desired by patients and caregivers and may contribute to improved recognition of their inpatient care team, knowledge of their treatment plan and overall inpatient experience. A sociotechnical systems approach is recommended to mitigate potential unintended consequences of inpatient portal use and support effective portal design, implementation and evaluation.

Conclusions: This article highlights the potential of using inpatient portals to engage hospitalized patients and caregivers and proposes next steps to evaluate this emerging technology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers*
  • Communication
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Inpatients*
  • Patient Access to Records / standards*
  • Patient Portals / standards*
  • Patient-Centered Care / methods