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Features of a patient portal for blood test results and patient health engagement: web-based pre-post experiment.

Struikman, B., Bol, N., Goedhart, A., Weert, J.C.M. van, Talboom-Kamp, E., Delft, S. van, Brabers, A.E.M., Dijk, L. van. Features of a patient portal for blood test results and patient health engagement: web-based pre-post experiment. Journal of Medical Internet Research: 2020, 22(7), 10 p.
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Background
The use of patient portals for presenting health-related patient data, such as blood test results, is becoming increasingly important in health practices. Patient portals have the potential to enhance patient health engagement, but content might be misinterpreted.

Objective
This study aimed to discover whether the way of presenting blood test outcomes in an electronic patient portal is associated with patient health engagement and whether this varies across different blood test outcomes.

Methods
A 2x3 between-subjects experiment was conducted among members of the Nivel Dutch Health Care Consumer Panel. All participants read a scenario in which they were asked to imagine themselves receiving blood test results. These results differed in terms of the presented blood values (ie, normal vs partially abnormal vs all abnormal) as well as in terms of whether the results were accompanied with explanatory text and visualization. Patient health engagement was measured both before (T0) and after (T1) participants were exposed to their fictive blood test results.

Results
A total 487 of 900 invited members responded (response rate 54%), of whom 50.3% (245/487) were female. The average age of the participants was 52.82 years (SD 15.41 years). Patient health engagement saw either a significant decrease or a nonsignificant difference in the experimental groups after viewing the blood test results. The mean difference was smaller in the groups that received blood test results with additional text and visualization (meanT0 5.33, SE 0.08; meanT1 5.14, SE 0.09; mean difference 0.19, SE 0.08, P=.02) compared with groups that received blood test results without explanatory text and visualization (meanT0 5.19, SE 0.08; meanT1 4.55, SE 0.09; mean difference 0.64, SE 0.08, P<.001). Adding text and visualization, in particular, reduced the decline in patient health engagement in participants who received normal results or mixed results (ie, combination of normal and abnormal results).

Conclusions
Adding text and visualization features can attenuate the decrease in patient health engagement in participants who receive outcomes of a blood test via a patient portal, particularly when blood test results are (partly) normal. This suggests that explanatory text and visualization can be reassuring. Future research is warranted to determine whether these results can be generalized to a patient population who receive their actual blood test results.
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