Patients with smartphones more likely to use online patient portals




Patients who own smartphones are five times as likely to use online patient portals.   Indeed, 27% of smartphone owners access patient portals, whereas only 5% of those who lack smartphones do.

While monthly use of patient portals has been increasing overall among U.S. households with broadband internet access, this growth has been driven by individuals who own smartphones.

As many as 50% of U.S. households use patient portals infrequently, and 23% do not use these portals at all, according to a report by Parks Associates, presented in September at the second-annual Connected Health Summit: Engaging Consumers, which was held in in San Diego.

Although adoption has been somewhat slow, surveys generally indicate that patients desire greater access to electronic health information and digital means of communication with their health care professionals.

As demonstrated by a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine in June, as many as 57 percent of patients say they would like to use web-based tools to interact with their health care providers, but no more than 8% of patients ever had actually used such tools.

Perhaps surprisingly, 37% of patients surveyed reported contacting their physicians by email, and 18% had contacted their physicians via Facebook.

Although physicians generally discourage such insecure methods of contact, these percentages do suggest that patients are willing to use digital means to contact their doctors, if given the opportunity to do so.

As more consumers turn to smartphones as their primary computers, health care providers will need to ensure that their digital platforms are user friendly for the smaller screen.

Smartphones offer health care providers a means of reaching out to lower income patients, who sometimes have smartphones but do not have Internet access or full-sized computers at home.

Parks Associates

US Professional News      Sep 25, 2015