Communication matters: Exploring older adults’ current use of patient portals

Sunyoung Kim, Sarah Fadem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objectives: Patient portals have the potential to increase patient engagement. Older patients are of particular interest as they are likely to suffer from multiple chronic conditions. Yet, questions remain about how patient portals are perceived and deemed useful by older adults. This study explored attitudes toward, perceived utility of, and requirements of a patient portal from the perspective of older adults. Methods: We used a mixed-method approach integrating online surveys, a review of existing portals, and participatory design workshops with 17 people who were 65 years old and over. Results: The findings demonstrate that the participants used a patient portal primarily as one of the communication channels to interact with their providers, rather than as a tool for accessing and managing personal health information. Consequently, the perception of whether or not a provider would use the patient portal was a primary factor that older adults considered in determining the adoption and use of a portal. Conclusions: It is important to understand that older adults would perceive a patient portal as one part of a larger communication system to interact with a provider. This finding will help researchers and practitioners to advance the design and use of a patient portal to effectively incorporate it into older adults’ health care and better serve the unique needs of the ageing population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-136
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
StatePublished - Dec 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Informatics


  • Aging population
  • Older adults
  • Patient engagement
  • Patient portal


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