BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:

Engaging with parents in care improves pediatric care quality and patient safety; however, parents of hospitalized children often lack the information necessary to effectively participate. To enhance engagement, some hospitals now provide parents with real-time online access to information from their child’s inpatient medical record during hospitalization. Whether these “inpatient portals” provide benefits for parents of hospitalized children is unknown. Our objectives were to identify why parents used an inpatient portal application on a tablet computer during their child’s hospitalization and identify their perspectives of ways to optimize the technology.

METHODS:

Semistructured in-person interviews were conducted with 14 parents who were given a tablet computer with a commercially available inpatient portal application for use throughout their child’s hospitalization. The portal included vital signs, diagnoses, medications, laboratory test results, patients’ schedule, messaging, education, and provider pictures and/or roles. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed and continued until reaching thematic saturation. Three researchers used an inductive approach to identify emergent themes regarding why parents used the portal.

RESULTS:

Five themes emerged regarding parent motivations for accessing information within the portal: (1) monitoring progress, (2) feeling empowered and/or relying less on staff, (3) facilitating rounding communication and/or decision-making, (4) ensuring information accuracy and/or providing reassurance, and (5) aiding memory. Parents recommended that the hospital continue to offer the portal and expand it to allow parents to answer admission questions, provide feedback, and access doctors’ daily notes.

CONCLUSIONS:

Providing parents with real-time clinical information during their child’s hospitalization using an inpatient portal may enhance their ability to engage in caregiving tasks critical to ensuring inpatient care quality and safety.

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