Understanding of and barriers to electronic health record patient portal access in a culturally diverse pediatric population

Daniel J. Miklin, Sameera S. Vangara, Alan M. Delamater, Kenneth W. Goodman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Electronic health records (EHRs) have become a standard in the health care setting. In an effort to improve health literacy, foster doctor-patient communication, and ease the transition from adolescent to adult care, our institution created a policy that allows patients aged between 13 and 17 years to have EHR portal access. A literature review revealed predictable differences in portal registration among different ethnicities and socioeconomic statuses. Consequently, a cross-sectional survey was developed to investigate barriers to EHR portal access in a sample of culturally diverse adolescents. Objective: The aim of this study was to assess for barriers to EHR portal access in a culturally diverse adolescent population. Methods: A 42-item anonymous survey was completed by 97 adolescents aged between 13 and 18 years, attending general pediatrics clinics. The results were analyzed using descriptive statistics and t tests. Results: The average participant age was 15.5 (SD 1.5) years with 60% (58/97) male and 40% (39/97) female. Participants were 44% (43/97) black, 41% (40/97) Hispanic, 9% (9/97) Caucasian, 3% (3/97) Asian, and 2% (2/97) others. There were statistically significant differences in perceptions of confidentiality in age (13 to 15 years vs 16 to 18 years; P=.001) and insurance status (government vs private; P=.012) but not in gender, ethnicity, or parental education level. Younger adolescents with governmental insurance were more confident in the level of confidentiality with their physician. A total of 94% of participants had heard of the term EHR, but only 55% were familiar with its function. Furthermore, 77% of patients primarily accessed the internet through phones, and 50% of participants knew that patients aged under 18 years could obtain care for mental health, substance abuse, sexual health, and pregnancy. Conclusions: This research has identified gaps in EHR technology with regard to the pediatric patient population. The results of our survey show that adolescents may have misconceptions regarding the doctor-patient relationship, their ability to obtain care, and the modalities present in an EHR. As technology progresses, it is essential to have a deeper understanding of adolescents' perceptions of confidentiality, technology, and available resources to design an EHR system that encourages patient education and communication while limiting barriers to care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere11570
JournalJMIR Medical Informatics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent health
  • Electronic health records
  • Patient portals
  • Patient-accessible electronic health records
  • Physician-patient relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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