Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An exploratory study on physician/patient electronic messaging within secured health portals
by Wieczorek, Susan M., Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2015, 694; 10076186
Abstract (Summary)

When the HITECH Act of 2009 set mandates for the transition from paper to electronic health records (EHRs), few realized the far-reaching impact this technological change would have on the entire healthcare environment. This dissertation examines the many facets of this adoption process by exploring perceptions, responses, and reactions of physicians and patients alike as they navigate through this transformative “medicological environment.” Characterized by influences from legal, political, governmental, medical, social, geographical, economic, and technological factors, this multi-faceted space reveals how a new medium for communication—the electronic message within secured health portals—transforms the way in which healthcare is managed and utilized today.

Multiple methods of observation, including oral histories, surveys, critical incident reports, and content analyses of data mined messages, together reveal the many challenges faced by patients and healthcare professionals alike as they attempt to adapt to this change while still maintaining (or improving upon) primary healthcare needs. As demonstrated by the varied responses from those living in rural and urban areas, it was found that each population approached the transition process from different vantage points. The early-adopting, urban physicians provided patient online communication simply because they felt patients expected it while rural physicians tended to resist the process, arguing that patients were media illiterate, lacked Internet access, and preferred face-to-face interactions. Others cited implementation costs and personnel training issues as a deterring factor. This provides insight into how such a new medium can affect user perceptions about online healthcare, including physician availability, online relationship factors, and overall patient care. Future research suggestions include expanded content analyses of the electronic messages themselves and follow-up, longitudinal research once implementation is more widespread.

As the Institute of Medicine (2008) states, all patients have the right to varied means of communicating with their physicians, including but not limited to online interactions. Evidence of a paradigmatic shift exists in physician training as well as patient expectations. The influence of online communication within secured health portals certainly has contributed towards this shift as more personalized, patient-centered care becomes a vital part of this ever-changing medicological environment.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Malin, Brenton J.
School: University of Pittsburgh
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 77/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Communication, Medicine, Health care management
Keywords: Electronic health record, Electronic messaging, Email, Health communication, Physician patient communication, Secured health portals
Publication Number: 10076186
ISBN: 978-1-339-58500-0
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