To help foster engagement, some hospitals are now providing parents with real-time, online access to information from their child’s inpatient medical record through “inpatient portals” during hospitalization. While the article I’m discussing here was in the review process, a parent whose child I was caring for in the hospital asked me about real time access to their child’s medical record. Thus the utility of this study was underscored for me.
The author team built off their earlier work conducting a pilot study to evaluate parent use of a commercially-available, inpatient portal application (MyChart Bedside) after its implementation on a pediatric medical/surgical unit.1 Over 6 months, 329 parents were offered the portal application on a hospital-owned tablet computer. A vast majority (n=296, 90.0%) used it during their child’s hospitalization. Tablet data indicated that parents most frequently accessed features that provided information about their child’s inpatient vital signs, diagnoses, medications, providers, daily schedule, and test results.
The objective of the Hospital Pediatrics qualitative follow-up study (10.1542/hpeds.2018-0166) was to identify whyparents used the portal, their suggestions for improvement, and perspectives of new features being considered by the hospital. Semi-structured, in-person interviews were conducted with 14 parents given a tablet computer with the inpatient portal application for use throughout their child’s hospitalization. This study is the first to illustrate why parents used an inpatient portal during their child’s hospitalization. Parent motivations for accessing information within the portal, included: (1) monitoring their child’s progress, (2) feeling empowered and/or relying less on staff, (3) facilitating communication and/or decision making on rounds, (4) ensuring information accuracy and/or providing reassurance, and (5) aiding memory. Parents recommended that the hospital continue to offer the portal; they thought that parents might use the portal differently, providing them with the option was important:
"Some people will probably use it more, and maybe people will use it less, but I think access is what is most important - just getting it to them and saying, ‘This is for you, use it as you will.’ I think it's a great tool” (Parent H).
Parents also recommended that the tool be expanded to allow parents to answer admission questions, provide feedback and access doctors’ daily notes. That might present more of a challenge!
1. Kelly MM, Hoonakker PL, Dean SM. Using an inpatient portal to engage families in pediatric hospital care. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA. 2017;24(1):153-161.; Kelly MM, Dean SM, Carayon P, Wetterneck TB, Hoonakker PL. Healthcare team perceptions of a portal for parents of hospitalized children before and after implementation. Appl Clin Inform. 2017;8(1):265-278.