Effects of a Web-Based Patient Portal on Patient Satisfaction and Missed Appointment Rates: Survey Study

J Med Internet Res. 2020 May 19;22(5):e17955. doi: 10.2196/17955.


Background: Although electronic medical record (EMR)-tethered patient portals are common in other countries, they are still emerging in Canada.

Objective: We aimed to report user satisfaction and the effects of a patient portal on medical appointment attendance in a Canadian cohort of patients within our publicly funded health care system.

Methods: Two surveys were deployed, via email, at 2 weeks and 6 months following the first recorded patient portal access. Database audits of visit attendance were used to supplement and cross reference survey data.

Results: Between January 2016 and July 2018, 4296 patients accessed the patient portal. During the study, 28% (957/3421) consented patient portal users responded to one or more semistructured electronic surveys. Of respondents, 93% (891/957) reported that the patient portal was easy to use, 51% (492/975) reported it saved time when scheduling an appointment, and 40% (382/957) reported that they had to repeat themselves less during appointments. Respondents reported patient portal-related changes in health system use, with 48% (462/957) reporting avoiding a clinic visit and 2.7% (26/957) avoiding an emergency department visit. Across 19,968 visits in clinics where the patient portal was introduced, missed appointments were recorded in 9.5% (858/9021) of non-patient portal user visits, compared with 4.5% (493/9021) for patient portal users, representing a 53% relative reduction in no-show rates.

Conclusions: Early experience with an EMR-tethered patient portal showed strong reports of positive patient experience, a self-reported decrease in health system use, and a measured decrease in missed appointment rates. Implications on the expanded use of patient portals requires more quantitative and qualitative study in Canada.

Keywords: patient portal; patient satisfaction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Appointments and Schedules*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Portals / standards*
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult