Patients prefer password-protected portals for most sensitive test results

Most patients prefer receiving results from medical tests--especially ones containing highly sensitive information--through password protected patient portals or websites, according to a recent study.

Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center surveyed 409 patients to see if they better liked getting test results through email, mailed letters, text message, fax, phone call or portals, according to an announcement.

While many preferred the portal, respondents also didn't mind obtaining results for tests like blood cholesterol through text, email or voicemail. When it came to results for tests on sexually transmitted diseases or genetic tests, however, patients preferred a more secure form of communication.

Providers must realize that communication preferences need to be judged on a patient-by-patient basis, the researchers said. "Every individual may have a personal preference, and there may be a way to indicate those preferences in the patient's record," said lead researcher Jeannine LaRocque, Ph.D., an assistant professor of human science in the School of Nursing & Health Studies at GUMC.

Many patients also may not know about the availability of portals or may find them hard to use, so a variety of options for receiving test results should be considered.

What's more, recent research found that those who are most at-risk are less likely to take advantage of online portals. Study lead Mallika Mendu M.D., from Brigham and Women's Hospital, said of the findings, published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, that "portals could perversely widen existing disparities in care by advantaging those who are already at an advantage, while not helping the disadvantaged."

To learn more:
- here's the announcement

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