Background: Patient portals are applications that allow patients to access patient-related health information that is documented by a healthcare institution electronically. As part of a patient portal, institutions may offer patients (typically web-based) access to selected clinical data that is governed by the institutions as part of the electronic health record (EHR). The patient can access this clinical data, read and print it, or integrate it into any (electronic or paper-based) patient-owned record. Thus, patients are supported to manage their own health care by using these patient portals. Patient empowerment, patient satisfaction and other health-related outcomes may be affected by using patient portals. Already in 1986, the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotions had made empowerment a key issue in the theory of health promotion, but only a few controlled studies on the impact of patient portals are available at the moment. There seem to be large uncertainties regarding the impact of patient portals on patient empowerment.
Objectives: To conduct a systematic review of the effect of patient portals on patient empowerment as a patient-related outcome.
Methods: We will conduct a systematic literature search on patient portals. We will search in health-related databases like MEDLINE, CINAHL, and Academic Search Elite. In addition we will handsearch for literature in journals of medical and nursing informatics. Subsequently two independent scientists will screen all located abstracts. Initially we will include randomized controlled trials. After that we will assess the quality of these studies based on the Cochrane 'Risk of bias' tool. We will summarize the findings related to the impact of patient portals especially for consumers.
Expected results: We expect to find a small number of patient-related outcomes addressing the impact of patient portals. Probably, there will be insufficient data to make a general recommendation for implementing patient portals, but we may find an impact for special sub-types such as portals for patients with diabetes.