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Exploring the Digital Divide: Factors Related to the Use of Patient Portals

Marlie Frisco, Dr. Jennifer (Jenna) Thate, Department of Nursing, Siena College, 515 Loudon Road, Loudonville, NY 12211

Information sharing between providers and patients can facilitate patient engagement and minimize confusion about managing one’s health and individual treatment plans. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) used in conjunction with patient portals can be an effective tool in providing patients access to their health information including test results, visit notes, and the ability to view and schedule appointments. As such, patient portals can enhance patient engagement by enabling patients to be active partners in the management of their health. Though there is limited research in low-income, ethnically diverse populations, there is some evidence to suggest that this population does not regularly access their health information using an electronic portal due to a lack of regular internet access or comfort with technology. Additionally, lack of knowledge regarding the portal and understanding of the meaning of its contents furthers this digital divide in healthcare. Following a review of the literature and in response to insights learned from working with this population to improve portal access, we developed a survey based on the eHealth Literacy Scale (eHEALS) to better understand factors related to the use of a patient portal in low-income and ethnically diverse populations. A 22-question survey was distributed via an anonymous link through a text message or email to patients at Whitney M. Young Jr. Health Center who received care in the last 18 months. Preliminary results indicate that participants who know where to find helpful health resources on the internet are more likely to be current users of the patient portal. However, other indicators of eHealth literacy did not significantly predict the current use of the patient portal. Further research will seek to understand the eHealth literacy of patients using the same survey distributed via mail to reach patients who may be less inclined to complete an online survey.




Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Marlie Frisco

Institution: Siena College

Type: Poster

Subject: Nursing & Public Health

Status: Approved


Time and Location

Session: Poster 9
Date/Time: Wed 12:00pm-1:00pm
Session Number: 6067