Background: Inpatient portals are online platforms that allow patients to access their personal health information and monitor their health while in the acute care setting. Despite their potential to improve quality of care and empower patients and families to participate in their treatment, adoption remains low. Outpatient portal studies have shown that physician endorsement can drive patients' adoption of these systems. Insights on physicians' perspectives on use of these platforms can help improve patient and physician satisfaction and inpatient portal uptake.
Objective: The purpose of this systematic review is to better understand physicians' perspectives toward inpatient portals.
Methods: A systematic literature review was conducted for studies published between 1994 and November 2021 using keywords for physicians' perspectives toward patient portals and personal health records. Databases included PubMed, MEDLINE, Web of Science, and Scopus. Articles solely focused on nonphysician clinicians or addressing only outpatient settings or shared notes were excluded from this review. Two reviewers performed title, abstract, and full-text screening independently. Bias assessment was performed using the JBI SUMARI Critical Appraisal Tool (Joanna Briggs Institute). Inductive thematic analysis was done based on themes reported by original authors. Data were synthesized using narrative synthesis and reported according to overarching themes.
Results: In all, 4199 articles were collected and 9 included. All but 2 of the studies were conducted in the United States. Common themes identified were communication and privacy, portal functionality and patient use, and workflow. In studies where physicians had no prior patient portal experience, concerns were expressed about communication issues created by patients' access to laboratory results and potential impact on existing workflow. Concerns about negative communication impacts were not borne out in postimplementation studies.
Conclusions: Physicians perceived inpatient portals to be beneficial to patients and saw improvement in communication as a result. This is consistent with outpatient studies and highlights the need to improve training on portal use and include physicians during the design process. Health care organizations and information technology entities can take steps to increasing clinician comfort. Physician concerns involving patient portal usage and managing patient expectations also need to be addressed. With improved clinician support, initial pessimism about communication and workload issues can be overcome. Limitations of this review include the small number of pre- and postimplementation studies found. This is also not a review of perspectives on open notes, which merits separate discussion.
Keywords: inpatient portals; inpatients; patient portals; personal health record; physician perspectives; technology.
©Kaila Louise Banguilan, Frank Sonnenberg, Catherine Chen. Originally published in the Interactive Journal of Medical Research (https://www.i-jmr.org/), 15.11.2022.