Background: Patient portals and other Internet-based technologies have been increasingly used to improve cancer care coordination. Patient portals may introduce special considerations in oncology populations where longitudinal outpatient care is often more intensive than in most other specialties.
Methods: This article, which is based upon bibliographic searches in PubMed, reviews the literature on web portal use by cancer patients. Articles published in English from 2000 to August 2018 were identified using the following MeSH search terms and Boolean algebra commands: web portal AND cancer. Information obtained from bibliographic searches (title and topic of article, information in abstract, and keywords) was used to determine whether to retain each article identified in this way.
Results: A total of 263 article citations were identified in the bibliographic searches. Of these, 10 met the eligibility criteria. A variety of study designs were used including focus groups, usability testing, in-person interviews, questionnaire surveys, retrospective cohort, and non-randomized trial. Cancer patients had reached modest levels of portal use. Increased portal use has been associated with younger age, white race, and higher socioeconomic status. Most cancer patients used portals to look up testing results and provide notes, but had difficulty in interpreting the results appropriately.
Conclusions: Our study adds to the growing evidence that patient portals play a significant role in promoting self-management in cancer survivors. Additional studies are needed to determine factors influencing portal use, so effective interventions can be developed to enhance portal use.