Open Access Open Badges Research article

Impact of patient-accessible electronic medical records in rheumatology: use, satisfaction and effects on empowerment among patients

Rosalie van der Vaart1*, Constance HC Drossaert1, Erik Taal1, K Wiepke Drossaers-Bakker2, Harald E Vonkeman12 and Mart AFJ van de Laar12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychology, Health & Technology, University of Twente, Citadel H423, P.O. Box 217 7500 AE, Enschede, The Netherlands

2 Arthritis Centre Twente, Medisch Spectrum Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2014, 15:102  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-15-102

Published: 26 March 2014



To measure the use, satisfaction and impact of a web portal which provides patients with rheumatoid arthritis home access to their electronic medical records (EMR).


A pretest-posttest study was conducted among 360 patients. Questionnaires assessed socio-demographics, health literacy, Internet use, disease characteristics, patient-provider relationship and empowerment before and after launching a hospital-based patient web portal. To measure the impact of the portal, patients’ satisfaction with care, trust in their rheumatologist, self-efficacy in patient-provider communication, illness perceptions, and medication adherence were assessed. The post-test included questions on portal use, satisfaction, and self-perceived impact due to portal use.


54% of respondents with Internet access had viewed their EMR. Respondents were positive about the ease of use and usefulness of the portal and reported very few problems. Age (P = .03), amount of Internet use (P = .01) and self-perceived Internet skills (P = .03) significantly predicted portal use. Of the respondents who had logged in, 44% reported feeling more involved in their treatment and 37% felt they had more knowledge about their treatment. Significant differences over time were not found on the empowerment-related instruments.


The current portal succeeded in offering patients access to their EMR in a usable and understandable way. While its true impact is difficult to grasp, a relevant portion of the patients felt more involved in their treatment due to the web portal. Offering patients home EMR access, therefore, appears to be a valuable addition to the care process.

Electronic Medical Record; Web portal; Patient access; Patient empowerment; eHealth