Journal of Primary Health Care Journal of Primary Health Care Society
Journal of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

Patients’ experience and understanding of E-portals in rural general practice: an ethnographic exploration

Jenny Carryer 1 , Sarah Kooienga 2
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

1 School of Nursing/College of Health, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

2 Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing, University of Wyoming, Laramie, USA

Correspondence to: Jenny Carryer, School of Nursing/College of Health, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand. Email: J.B.Carryer@massey.ac.nz

Journal of Primary Health Care - https://doi.org/10.1071/HC17016
Published online: 24 October 2017

Journal Compilation © Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners 2017.
This is an open access article licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: As of February 2017, almost 300,000 New Zealanders were using E-portals, offered in over 455 general practices. Patient portals are intended to give patients convenient and secure electronic access to their health information and increase their ability to manage their own health care. Early patient experience of E-portal use in New Zealand has not yet been studied.

AIM: This exploratory qualitative study provides insight into E-portal use in rural primary care.

METHODS: Thirty-three patients from three rural general practice sites were interviewed between December 2015 and June 2016. Eleven patients were not using a portal. Data were analysed using ethnograph and comparative analysis between two researchers.

RESULTS: Four major themes emerged from the data: (i) technology acceptance, (ii) activation to full engagement with E-portals, (iii) benefits and concerns, and (iv) the impact of rural contextual understandings for these 33 patients.

DISCUSSION: Portal use in New Zealand is in its infancy, but signs suggest that New Zealanders are ready and enthusiastic adopters of such technology. Engagement levels are variable and it is too soon to fully explore the impact of E-portals on the general practice culture, provider relationships and the degree to which portals increase personal self-efficacy in relation to health care.


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