Patient portals do not improve hospital outcomes

Patient portals are meant to improve patient knowledge and engagement, but the current use of portals has not produced significant differences in outcomes, according to a study published in the Journal of Informatics in Health and Biomedicine.

Patient portals allow patients to take health into their own hands by offering a single platform to access medical records and interact with clinicians. However, evidence whether they improve outcomes, readmission or mortality is lacking. In this study, researchers examined if patients using portals during hospitalization experienced improved hospital outcomes, 30-day readmissions, inpatient mortality and 30-day mortality.

The study included a total of 7,538 patients who had signed up for a patient portal account before being hospitalized at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, from August 1, 2012, to July 31, 2014. Results showed 1,566 (20.8 percent) of patients used the portal while hospitalized. Patients who used the portal were likely to be younger, have fewer elective admissions, were more often admitted to medical services and more likely to have liver disease. Overall, researchers noted no significant difference between patients using the portal and those who did not in 30-day readmissions, inpatient mortality and 30-day mortality.

“Use of the patient portal in the inpatient setting may not improve hospital outcomes,” concluded first author Adrian Dumitrascu, with Mayo Clinic. “Future research should examine the association of portal use with more immediate inpatient health outcomes such as patient experience, patient engagement, medication reconciliation, and prevention of adverse events.”