Online portals fail to present info in a way meaningful to patients

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Current online patient portals do not present test information in an easily understandable context for the majority of patients, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

Patient portals are meant to provide patients with information regarding their test results so they can make decisions regarding their own health, but the information often requires patients to conduct research in translating outcomes.

In this study, researchers conducted interviews to outline how patients view and use online portals. Researchers conducted 95 interviews with individuals who had viewed test results through an online patient portal from April 2015 to September 2016.

Results showed 63 percent of patients did not receive explanatory information or test result interpretation when then received their test, promoting 46 percent of patients to search online for information regarding their results.

“Study findings suggest that online portals are not currently designed to present test results to patients in a meaningful way. Patients experienced negative emotions often with abnormal results, but sometimes even with normal results,” concluded first author Raber D. Giardina, PhD, from Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center and Baylor College of Medicine. “Simply providing access via portals is insufficient; additional strategies are needed to help patients interpret and manage their online test results. Given the absence of national guidance, our findings could help strengthen policy and practice in this area and inform innovations that promote patient understanding of test results.”