Tablets, portal apps don't increase patient understanding

Supplying patients with tools such as tablets and patient portal apps does not have a great impact on their understanding of their care and treatment, according to a study published in theJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

The authors tested their theory that the tablet and app "would result in greater knowledge of team members' names and roles, planned tests and procedures, medications and higher patient activation."

The tools were distributed to 100 patients at Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital to be used for the duration of the patients' stay. The researchers then looked at patient use and satisfaction with the portal through questions specifically created for the study. The goal was to evaluate how such tools can help patients become more involved in and aware of care activity, from knowing physicians' names to procedures being ordered.

The authors found that use of the app was high, with 57 percent using it more than once a day. Satisfaction with the tools also was high, with 76 percent saying they were easy to use and 71 percent saying they provided useful information.

One-fifth of the patients did not use the portal at all but among those who did, patients did gain greater knowledge of the names and roles of their hospital physicians. However, it did not have an impact on their knowledge of their own care or treatment.

"Additional steps are needed to engage hospitalized patients in learning about their plan of care, which may better prepare them for self-management after discharge," the authors concluded.

Read the study.