Using patient portals to improve patient outcomes: Systematic review

Hae Ra Han, Kelly T. Gleason, Chun An Sun, Hailey N. Miller, Soo Jin Kang, Sotera Chow, Rachel Anderson, Paul Nagy, Tom Bauer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Background: With the advent of electronic health record (EHR) systems, there is increasing attention on the EHR system with regard to its use in facilitating patients to play active roles in their care via secure patient portals. However, there is no systematic review to comprehensively address patient portal interventions and patient outcomes. Objective: This study aimed to synthesize evidence with regard to the characteristics and psychobehavioral and clinical outcomes of patient portal interventions. Methods: In November 2018, we conducted searches in 3 electronic databases, including PubMed, EMBASE, and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and a total of 24 articles met the eligibility criteria. Results: All but 3 studies were conducted in the United States. The types of study designs varied, and samples predominantly involved non-Hispanic white and highly educated patients with sizes ranging from 50 to 22,703. Most of the portal interventions used tailored alerts or educational resources tailored to the patient's condition. Patient portal interventions lead to improvements in a wide range of psychobehavioral outcomes, such as health knowledge, self-efficacy, decision making, medication adherence, and preventive service use. Effects of patient portal interventions on clinical outcomes including blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, and weight loss were mixed. Conclusions: Patient portal interventions were overall effective in improving a few psychological outcomes, medication adherence, and preventive service use. There was insufficient evidence to support the use of patient portals to improve clinical outcomes. Understanding the role of patient portals as an effective intervention strategy is an essential step to encourage patients to be actively engaged in their health care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere15038
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Intervention study
  • Patient portal
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Using patient portals to improve patient outcomes: Systematic review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this