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Published Online: 1 December 2017

eHealth Literacy: Patient Engagement in Identifying Strategies to Encourage Use of Patient Portals Among Older Adults

Publication: Population Health Management
Volume 20, Issue Number 6


Innovations in chronic disease management are growing rapidly as advancements in technology broaden the scope of tools. Older adults are less likely to be willing or able to use patient portals or smartphone apps for health-related tasks. The authors conducted a cross-sectional survey of older adults (ages ≥50) with hypertension or diabetes to examine relationships between portal usage, interest in health-tracking tools, and eHealth literacy, and to solicit practical solutions to encourage technology adoption. Among 247 patients surveyed in a large integrated delivery health system between August 2015 and January 2016, eHealth literacy was positively associated with portal usage (OR [95% CI]: 1.3 [1.2–1.5]) and interest in health-tracking tools (1.2 [1.1–1.3]). Portal users compared to nonusers (N = 137 vs.110) had higher rates of interest in using websites/smartphone apps to track blood pressure (55% vs. 36%), weight (53% vs. 35%), exercise (53% vs. 32%), or medication (46% vs 33%, all P < 0.05). Portal users noted cumbersome processes for accessing portals and variations in provider availability for online scheduling and response times to messages. Portal nonusers expressed concerns about data security, lack of personalization, and limited perceived value of using portals. Both groups noted the importance of computer literacy and technical support. Patient stakeholders recommended marketing initiatives that capture patient stories demonstrating real-life applications of what patients can do with digital technology, how to use it, and why it may be useful. Health systems also must screen for eHealth literacy, provide training, promote proxy users, and institute quality assurance that ensures patients' experiences will not vary across the system.

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Information & Authors


Published In

cover image Population Health Management
Population Health Management
Volume 20Issue Number 6December 2017
Pages: 486 - 494
PubMed: 28384076


Published in print: December 2017
Published online: 1 December 2017
Published ahead of print: 6 April 2017


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Eboni G. Price-Haywood, MD, MPH
Ochsner Clinic Foundation, Center for Applied Health Services Research, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Ochsner Clinical School, University of Queensland, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Jewel Harden-Barrios, MEd
Ochsner Clinic Foundation, Center for Applied Health Services Research, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Robin Ulep, MBBS
Ochsner Clinical School, University of Queensland, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Qingyang Luo, PhD
Ochsner Clinic Foundation, Center for Applied Health Services Research, New Orleans, Louisiana.


This work was presented as an abstract at the AcademyHealth Annual Research Conference, June 2016, Boston, Massachusetts.
Address correspondence to:Eboni G. Price-Haywood, MD, MPHOchsner Clinic FoundationCenter for Applied Health Services ResearchAcademic Building–2nd Floor1401 Jefferson HighwayNew Orleans, LA 70121E-mail: [email protected]

Author Disclosure Statement

The authors declared no conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. The authors received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

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