Purpose: eHealth and patient participation, both important and timely resulted in our study. We undertook a preliminary evaluation of a web-based chronic disease management portal in two separate patient populations – Diabetes and Prostate Cancer - in order to understand patient preferences and positively impact health through feedback.
Method: A 10 minute, telephonic survey consisting of 28 Likert Scale items and 4 open-ended questions was created to assess patient experience over 3 months of portal usage. Responses were analyzed according to frequency and the grouped into themes. A total of 33 respondents (age 29 to 83) from both portals completed the survey (N= 64).
Result: Respondents felt the portal was easy to navigate, well-organised and clear, and caught-on to using it quickly, however feelings of frustration as a result of entering their missing medical information led to discontinued use. Respondents felt their personal information was secure and private while utilising the portal. Diabetes patients spent an average of 15.60 minutes on the portal with an average patient login of 1.64 per day. Prostate Cancer patients spent on average 17.58 minutes on the portal and logged in 0.66 times per day. Frequency of logins was related to checking for new information or postings. Patients liked the portal features such as the tracking tools and personal health record. Respondents liked the option of a Community Forum to discuss with others; however they would have liked to have seen more activity on it. Respondents expressed the need for their complete medical history to be provided through the portal. Suggestions were made for clinicians to make recommendations for treatment based on information entered by respondents such as glucometer readings or Prostate-Specific Antigen levels. Respondents were satisfied with portal content but felt they had not spent adequate time on the portal to assess whether information supplied was clearly written and easy to understand. The majority of respondents felt the portal can help patients manage their health.
Conclusion: Self-management opportunities will support future actions based on engaging patients in evaluation and improvements to these portals. Their suggestions include, specifically increasing forum activity- for chats and provider–patient interactions, posted clinician recommendations and pre-populated medical records for tracking. Focus groups are key to ongoing development and evaluation of these tools.