Understanding Barriers to Access and Effective Use of Patient Portals to Promote Engagement of Older Adults in Their Health Care

Principal Investigator(s)

Annette DeVito Dabbs, PhD, RN, FAAN

The goal of this study is to gather evidence that will inform improvements in access and effective use of patient portals among older adults, and policies that drive the criteria and incentives for meaningful use (MU) of the electronic health records (EHR) and patient portals. The study is identifying social-behavioral factors that predict level of patient engagement of older adults in their health care. It is also looking at the perspectives of a diverse sample of older adults regarding the meaning of engagement and the patient-provider interactions that promote their engagement and the perceived barriers to access and effective use of patient portals to support engagement in their health care. Dr. Annette DeVito Dabbs will use the findings to inform the design of patient portals that assess social-behavioral characteristics of the individual user and tailor the ‘patient-facing’ features accordingly. She is planning a larger study to evaluate the efficacy of a patient portal with social-behavioral assessment and tailoring capabilities, and policy recommendations, such as requiring health providers to tailor ‘patient-facing’ portal features based on social-behavioral characteristics and reduce barriers to access and effective use of patient portals by older adults.