The growing popularity of patient portals requires deeper research into identifying and fixing the inequities that limit use among a range of populations. Lead author Lisa Grossman, a MD-PhD student at Columbia, served as lead author for “Interventions to increase patient portal use in vulnerable populations: a systematic review,” which became available Aug. 19 on JAMIA and has been designated as an Editor’s Choice.
Grossman et al. highlighted the growing use of patient portals, which has more than doubled in recent years, but also noted that more than 100 studies show significant disparities in portal use. Certain populations, including but not limited to the elderly, racial minorities, and those with low socioeconomic status, use patient portals less. The research team found 18 published interventions focused on reducing such disparities in portal use, and then systematically analyzed each intervention to determine its effectiveness.
The findings highlight the potential for inequities to hinder the growth and effectiveness of patient portals across all populations. While there is significant research on the disparities in use across various portals, the research team calls for greater studies on how to overcome such disparities for vulnerable populations, as well as more interventions focused on external areas like the organization and environment, as opposed to the individual.
DBMI is well-represented in the August/September double issue of JAMIA. Lead author and 2018 PhD graduate Fernanda Polubriaginof collaborated with several Columbia faculty members on “Challenges with quality of race and ethnicity data in observational databases,” which is also available for a free download.