The benefit of using web-based patient portals and mobile applications may help increase patient engagement, but this benefit has yet to be established in current research, according to a paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Few studies have sought to determine outcomes related to inpatient web-based portals on patient care; however, some research has demonstrated its rationale in clinical practice.

Investigators from Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, report on their 90-day experience using a pilot inpatient portal for 179 patients and their caregivers. The portal, MyCart Bedside, allowed patients to send direct messages to their care team, gave the patient access to health information, and provided patients with a daily expected care plan they could review. Additionally, this portal provided nurses and patients with educational materials to help them use the portal effectively.

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According to the investigators, the majority of patients asked for instant access to laboratory testing results, except when these results were related to HIV testing or other sensitive analyses.

The investigators found a greater level of satisfaction among participants receiving access to the portal vs those not receiving access. According to a patient survey, those using the inpatient portal valued access to their daily care plans as well as their immediate access to laboratory test results.

Researchers also observed that the portal was used less frequently among patients admitted to the hospital for ≤2 days and among those who were accustomed to using devices that were different from the Android devices administered by the research team.

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Currently, the investigators are performing a randomized clinical trial ( Identifier: NCT02943109) to determine whether the use of a patient-based web portal “can help inexperienced internet and technology users be as satisfied as experienced users.”


Huerta TR, McAlearney AS, Rizer MK. Introducing a patient portal and electronic tablets to inpatient care [published online October 24, 2017]. Ann Intern Med. doi: 10.7326/M17-1766