Habit, health perception among top factors in patient portal adoption

With patient adoption of portals to access their medical records still low, Portuguese researchers used a technology-acceptance model to look at factors affecting adoption, according to a study published at Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The researchers, from Universidade Nova de Lisboa, cite research showing that less than 7 percent of health care consumers use a patient portal. The research is based on Venkatesh's Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology with self-perception of illness and chronic disability added to it as potential factors.

From a survey involving 350 responses, the researchers found the factors surrounding behavioral intention to use the technology were its perceived benefits, required effort, habit and self-perception of illness. The predictors of actual use were habit and behavioral intention.

The study did find age to be a factor, supporting previous research indicating health issues become more important later in life. The results, however, did not support the idea that patients with chronic illness or disability are more likely to use portals. The authors do note that their subjects were younger and fewer of them had chronic illness or disability than the general population.

Some factors from the model, such as hedonic motivation, did not apply, as subjects did not consider portal use an enjoyable activity.

Providers are still struggling to engage patients through portals, with some reportedly giving up on the idea entirely. Portals are most often used for tasks such as scheduling appointments and refilling prescriptions.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT recently reported a significant increase in the number of patients checking their records online, but noted disparities based on income, education, race and proficiency in English.

To learn more:
- check out the research

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