Impact of an Educational Comic to Enhance Patient-Physician-Electronic Health Record Engagement: Prospective Observational Study

JMIR Hum Factors. 2021 Apr 28;8(2):e25054. doi: 10.2196/25054.


Background: Electronic health record (EHR) use can impede or augment patient-physician communication. However, little research explores the use of an educational comic to improve patient-physician-EHR interactions.

Objective: To evaluate the impact of an educational comic on patient EHR self-advocacy behaviors to promote patient engagement with the EHR during clinic visits.

Methods: We conducted a prospective observational study with adult patients and parents of pediatric patients at the University of Chicago General Internal Medicine (GIM) and Pediatric Primary Care (PPC) clinics. We developed an educational comic highlighting EHR self-advocacy behaviors and distributed it to study participants during check-in for their primary care visits between May 2017 and May 2018. Participants completed a survey immediately after their visit, which included a question on whether they would be interested in a follow-up telephone interview. Of those who expressed interest, 50 participants each from the adult and pediatric parent cohorts were selected at random for follow-up telephone interviews 8 months (range 3-12 months) post visit.

Results: Overall, 71.0% (115/162) of adult patients and 71.6% (224/313) of pediatric parents agreed the comic encouraged EHR involvement. African American and Hispanic participants were more likely to ask to see the screen and become involved in EHR use due to the comic (adult P=.01, P=.01; parent P=.02, P=.006, respectively). Lower educational attainment was associated with an increase in parents asking to see the screen and to be involved (ρ=-0.18, P=.003; ρ=-0.19, P<.001, respectively) and in adults calling for physician attention (ρ=-0.17, P=.04), which was confirmed in multivariate analyses. Female GIM patients were more likely than males to ask to be involved (median 4 vs 3, P=.003). During follow-up phone interviews, 90% (45/50) of adult patients and all pediatric parents (50/50) remembered the comic. Almost half of all participants (GIM 23/50, 46%; PPC 21/50, 42%) recalled at least one best-practice behavior. At subsequent visits, adult patients reported increases in asking to see the screen (median 3 vs 4, P=.006), and pediatric parents reported increases in asking to see the screen and calling for physician attention (median 3 vs 4, Ps<.001 for both). Pediatric parents also felt that the comic had encouraged them to speak up and get more involved with physician computer use since the index visit (median 4 vs 4, P=.02) and that it made them feel more empowered to get involved with computer use at future visits (median 3 vs 4, P<.001).

Conclusions: Our study found that an educational comic may improve patient advocacy for enhanced patient-physician-EHR engagement, with higher impacts on African American and Hispanic patients and patients with low educational attainment.

Keywords: comic; education; electronic health records; engagement; patient.