UBC Graduate Research

Usability and user experiences of inpatient portals in the acute care setting : a scoping review Acharya, Bhagawati


Background: Inpatient portals are gradually being deployed in acute care settings. These tools allow patients and their family members access to the patients’ electronic health records and a means of communicating with their health care providers during hospitalization. It is suggested that inpatient portals may improve engagement for hospitalized patients and their families. While there is a growing body of research that reports on the design and implementation of inpatient portals, the evidence evaluating the user experiences and usability of inpatient portals remains limited and existing reports provide inconsistent information. Methods: A scoping review of literature published between 2011 and 2018 was conducted to identify and explore patient and family user experiences and the usability of inpatient portals in the acute care setting. Results: Twenty-three articles (10 qualitative, 7 mixed-methods, 6 quantitative) were obtained from CINAHL, Medline, EMBASE, Web of Science, PsycINFO, Engineering Village, Google and Google Scholar. Analysis of included articles indicated that patients and their families are interested in using inpatient portals; however, they suggest modifications to some existing features and the addition of new features into inpatient portal applications to improve experience and usability. Some usability issues, hardware and technical challenges existed (e.g., safety of sensitive information, its disclosure, security requirement for hospital provided tablets, tablet related, connectivity, operational and system issues). Conclusion: Inpatient portals are promising tools for engaging patients and families in hospital care. Limited literature about the usability and user experiences related to these portals exist, pointing to the need for further understanding and evaluation. Future design should include patients/families in the initial design.

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