Remote enrollment into a telehealth-delivering patient portal: Barriers faced in an urban population during the COVID-19 pandemic

Jordan A. Francke, Phillip Groden, Christopher Ferrer, Dennis Bienstock, Danielle L. Tepper, Tania P. Chen, Charles Sanky, Tristan R. Grogan, Matthew A. Weissman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Telehealth drastically reduces the time burden of appointments and increases access to care for homebound patients. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many outpatient practices closed, requiring an expansion of telemedicine capabilities. However, a significant number of patients remain unconnected to telehealth-capable patient portals. Currently, no literature exists on the success of and barriers to remote enrollment in telehealth patient portals. From March 26 to May 8, 2020, a total of 324 patients were discharged from Mount Sinai Beth Israel (MSBI), a teaching hospital in New York City. Study volunteers attempted to contact and enroll patients in the MyChart patient portal to allow the completion of a post-discharge video visit. If patients were unable to enroll, barriers were documented and coded for themes. Of the 324 patients discharged from MSBI during the study period, 277 (85%) were not yet enrolled in MyChart. Volunteers successfully contacted 136 patients (49% of those eligible), and 39 (14%) were successfully enrolled. Inability to contact patients was the most significant barrier. For those successfully contacted but not enrolled, the most frequent barrier was becoming lost to follow-up (29% of those contacted), followed by lack of interest in remote appointments (21%) and patient technological limitations (9%). Male patients, and those aged 40–59, were significantly less likely to successfully enroll compared to other patients. Telehealth is critical for healthcare delivery. Remote enrollment in a telemedicine-capable patient portal is feasible, yet underperforms compared to reported in-person enrollment rates. Health systems can improve telehealth infrastructure by incorporating patient portal enrollment into in-person workflows, educating on the importance of telehealth, and devising workarounds for technological barriers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-238
Number of pages12
JournalHealth and Technology
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Keywords

  • Barriers to Care
  • COVID-19
  • Telemedicine

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