Helping Patients Be Better Patients: A Qualitative Study of Perceptions About Inpatient Portal Use

Telemed J E Health. 2020 Sep;26(9):1184-1187. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2019.0198. Epub 2020 Jan 28.


Introduction: As more hospitals introduce inpatient portals, it is increasingly important to understand their impact on patient experience and the care process. We conducted this study to learn from patients and care team members about their experience with an inpatient portal. Methods: We interviewed 120 patients and 433 care team members across a seven-hospital academic medical center that offers an inpatient portal to hospitalized patients. Interviewees were asked about their use of the inpatient portal and its impact on patient experience. Recorded interviews were transcribed and rigorously analyzed using both inductive and deductive methods. Results: We found that the inpatient portal was perceived to help patients be "better patients" by improving their ability to be informed about their health and by enabling them to be more involved in the care process. Care team members suggested portal use could be improved by addressing challenges with tablet administration, use of the patient education feature, and the functionality of the scheduling feature. Conclusions: Across interviewees, we found that inpatient portals were perceived to improve the hospital experience and increase empowerment for patients by offering information about care in a manner that allowed patients to join their care teams as active, participating members.

Keywords: e-health; hospitalization; patient engagement; patient portals; telemedicine.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Patient Portals*
  • Perception
  • Qualitative Research