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Vulnerable patients' attitudes toward sharing medical data and granular control in patient portal systems : an interview study

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Abstract
Background: The collection, storage and exchange of medical information is becoming increasingly complex. More parties are involved in this process, and the data are expected to serve many different purposes beside patient care. This raises several ethical questions regarding privacy, data ownership, security and confidentiality. It is vital to consider patients’ moral attitudes and preferences in this digital information exchange. The voice of vulnerable patients is rarely heard in research addressing these questions. This study aims to address this void. Method: Fourteen vulnerable patients without prior experience with patient portal systems were interviewed for this study. First, participants were introduced to the portal and given time to read their personal medical data. Afterwards, semi-structured interviews were conducted and analyzed thematically to explore participants’ first experience with the portal and their views on sharing medical information with care providers and other parties. Results: Data analysis resulted in four themes: barriers to and benefits of portal access, emotional responses to reading medical information, diverging views on sharing information with third parties, and balancing granular control and the best possible care. First, participants appreciated access to their health information in the portal despite experiencing obstacles. Second, reading medical information online could evoke emotional responses. Third, patients were generally unaware of the meaning and value of medical data to third parties, resulting in inconsistent views on data sharing. Finally, although patients generally supported granular control, they were willing to give up on their autonomy if that would ensure them to receive the best possible care. Conclusions: Patient portal design should take into consideration the obstacles that discourage vulnerable patients’ access and hamper meaningful use. There is a need for more transparency on secondary use of medical data by third parties. Patients should be better informed about the potential consequences of sharing data with them.
Keywords
Electronic Health Records, Patient Portal, Patient Access, Patient Preference, Vulnerable Populations, HEALTH INFORMATION, PATIENTS PERCEPTIONS, ACCESS, PERSPECTIVES, PREFERENCES, LITERACY, RECORDS, CARE

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
Bernaerdt, Jodie, et al. “Vulnerable Patients’ Attitudes toward Sharing Medical Data and Granular Control in Patient Portal Systems : An Interview Study.” JOURNAL OF EVALUATION IN CLINICAL PRACTICE, vol. 27, no. 2, Wiley Online Library, 2021, pp. 429–37, doi:10.1111/jep.13465.
APA
Bernaerdt, J., Moerenhout, T., & Devisch, I. (2021). Vulnerable patients’ attitudes toward sharing medical data and granular control in patient portal systems : an interview study. JOURNAL OF EVALUATION IN CLINICAL PRACTICE, 27(2), 429–437. https://doi.org/10.1111/jep.13465
Chicago author-date
Bernaerdt, Jodie, Tania Moerenhout, and Ignaas Devisch. 2021. “Vulnerable Patients’ Attitudes toward Sharing Medical Data and Granular Control in Patient Portal Systems : An Interview Study.” JOURNAL OF EVALUATION IN CLINICAL PRACTICE 27 (2): 429–37. https://doi.org/10.1111/jep.13465.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Bernaerdt, Jodie, Tania Moerenhout, and Ignaas Devisch. 2021. “Vulnerable Patients’ Attitudes toward Sharing Medical Data and Granular Control in Patient Portal Systems : An Interview Study.” JOURNAL OF EVALUATION IN CLINICAL PRACTICE 27 (2): 429–437. doi:10.1111/jep.13465.
Vancouver
1.
Bernaerdt J, Moerenhout T, Devisch I. Vulnerable patients’ attitudes toward sharing medical data and granular control in patient portal systems : an interview study. JOURNAL OF EVALUATION IN CLINICAL PRACTICE. 2021;27(2):429–37.
IEEE
[1]
J. Bernaerdt, T. Moerenhout, and I. Devisch, “Vulnerable patients’ attitudes toward sharing medical data and granular control in patient portal systems : an interview study,” JOURNAL OF EVALUATION IN CLINICAL PRACTICE, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 429–437, 2021.
@article{8679354,
  abstract     = {{Background: The collection, storage and exchange of medical information is becoming increasingly complex. More parties are involved in this process, and the data are expected to serve many different purposes beside patient care. This raises several ethical questions regarding privacy, data ownership, security and confidentiality. It is vital to consider patients’ moral attitudes and preferences in this digital information exchange. The voice of vulnerable patients is rarely heard in research addressing these questions. This study aims to address this void.

Method: Fourteen vulnerable patients without prior experience with patient portal systems were interviewed for this study. First, participants were introduced to the portal and given time to read their personal medical data. Afterwards, semi-structured interviews were conducted and analyzed thematically to explore participants’ first experience with the portal and their views on sharing medical information with care providers and other parties. 

Results: Data analysis resulted in four themes: barriers to and benefits of portal access, emotional responses to reading medical information, diverging views on sharing information with third parties, and balancing granular control and the best possible care. First, participants appreciated access to their health information in the portal despite experiencing obstacles. Second, reading medical information online could evoke emotional responses. Third, patients were generally unaware of the meaning and value of medical data to third parties, resulting in inconsistent views on data sharing. Finally, although patients generally supported granular control, they were willing to give up on their autonomy if that would ensure them to receive the best possible care. 

Conclusions: Patient portal design should take into consideration the obstacles that discourage vulnerable patients’ access and hamper meaningful use. There is a need for more transparency on secondary use of medical data by third parties. Patients should be better informed about the potential consequences of sharing data with them.}},
  author       = {{Bernaerdt, Jodie and Moerenhout, Tania and Devisch, Ignaas}},
  issn         = {{1356-1294}},
  journal      = {{JOURNAL OF EVALUATION IN CLINICAL PRACTICE}},
  keywords     = {{Electronic Health Records,Patient Portal,Patient Access,Patient Preference,Vulnerable Populations,HEALTH INFORMATION,PATIENTS PERCEPTIONS,ACCESS,PERSPECTIVES,PREFERENCES,LITERACY,RECORDS,CARE}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  number       = {{2}},
  pages        = {{429--437}},
  publisher    = {{Wiley Online Library}},
  title        = {{Vulnerable patients' attitudes toward sharing medical data and granular control in patient portal systems : an interview study}},
  url          = {{http://doi.org/10.1111/jep.13465}},
  volume       = {{27}},
  year         = {{2021}},
}

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