Barriers and facilitators affecting patient portal implementation from an organizational perspective: Qualitative study

Laura Kooij, Wim G. Groen, Wim H. van Harten* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
212 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The number of patient portals is rising, and although portals can have positive effects, their implementation has major impacts on the providing health care institutions. However, little is known about the organizational factors affecting successful implementation. Knowledge of the specific barriers to and facilitators of various stakeholders is likely to be useful for future implementations.

Objective: The objective of this study was to identify the barriers to and facilitators of patient portal implementation facing various stakeholders within hospital organizations in the Netherlands.

Methods: Purposive sampling was used to select hospitals of various types. A total of 2 university medical centers, 3 teaching hospitals, and 2 general hospitals were included. For each, 3 stakeholders were interviewed: (1) medical professionals, (2) managers, and (3) information technology employees. In total, 21 semistructured interviews were conducted using the Grol and Wensing model, which describes barriers to and facilitators of change in health care practice at 6 levels: (1) innovation; (2) individual professional; (3) patient; (4) social context; (5) organizational context; and (6) economic and political context. Two researchers independently selected and coded quotes by applying this model using a (deductive) directed content approach. Additional factors related to technical and portal characteristics were added using the model of McGinn et al, developed for implementation of electronic health records.

Results: In total, we identified 376 quotes, 26 barriers, and 28 facilitators. Thirteen barriers and 12 facilitators were common for all stakeholder groups. The facilitators' perceived usefulness (especially less paperwork) was mentioned by all the stakeholders, followed by subjects' positive attitude. The main barriers were lack of resources (namely, lack of staff and materials), financial difficulties (especially complying with high costs, lack of reimbursements), and guaranteeing privacy and security (eg, strict regulations). Both similarities and differences were found between stakeholder groups and hospital types. For example, managers and information technology employees mainly considered guaranteeing privacy and security as a predominant barrier. Financial difficulties were particularly mentioned by medical professionals and managers.

Conclusions: Patient portal implementation is a complex process and is not only a technical process but also affects the organization and its staff. Barriers and facilitators occurred at various levels and differed among hospital types (eg, lack of accessibility) and stakeholder groups (eg, sufficient resources) in terms of several factors. Our findings underscore the importance of involving multiple stakeholders in portal implementations. We identified a set of barriers and facilitators that are likely to be useful in making strategic and efficient implementation plans.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere183
JournalJournal of medical internet research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • Attitude of health personnel
  • Health information technology
  • Patient portals


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