Docs involved in patient portal creation more likely to recommend use

Physicians involved in the creation and content of a web portal for young diabetes patients were more likely to use it and recommend it to their patients, according to a study published this week in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The researchers elicited essays from 18 providers in Sweden to ascertain their perceptions of the online tool. The portal included extensive general and local self-care and treatment information about type 1 diabetes. It offered open discussion forums and blog tools for the young patients and their parents, as well as links to their blogs. News feeds supplied research updates and information about devices, products and activities.

The physician statements were categorized in three ways:

  • The category "to use or not to use" related to whether respondents found the platform useful in their practice. Overall, respondents found the portal manageable and easily accessible. The resistance they encountered were due to technical problems, lack of time, inadequate computer experience, lack of commitment and disorganized information. The researchers noted the relationship between the physicians' involvement in the site and their willingness to incorporate it into their practice.
  • In the second category, "information center for everyone," respondents referred to the portal as a source of scientifically sound information and advice for patients, their families as for other professionals. Since the information on the portal mirrored that used in their practice, and at times was created by fellow practitioners, the respondents felt comfortable recommending it to patients. As one respondent put it, "As peers exchange experiences, the site comes alive." The site was seen as a means for patients and families to learn at home and to be able to manage certain situations by themselves.
  • In the third category, "developing our practice," respondents reflected on what information to give through the portal and how to give it. Practitioners expressed interest in adapting their practice to better meet patients' needs and learning more about patients' views by reading dialogues online.

"Effective care requires focusing attention on both the diseases themselves and patients' experiences of their illnesses," the authors wrote, noting the role of discussions, blogs, and forums in doing so. The requirements for patient engagement in Meaningful Use Stage 2 in the U.S. gives efforts such as these added importance.

The Beacon Community in Utah is evaluating a new mobile app and personalized online web portal--care4life--that offers U.S. Type-2 diabetes patients daily education, encouragement and support via text messages.

Creation of a vital support community is the idea behind plans for a national Down syndrome patient registry and a new online network for patients with prostate cancer. The National Proactive Surveillance Network--backed by Johns Hopkins Medicine, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the Prostate Cancer Foundation--aims to curb overtreatment often experienced by men with a slow-growing, non-life threatening form of the disease.

To learn more:
- read the research