Methods: Parents were approached in the waiting room and were offered participation in a voluntary anonymous survey about their Internet use. The survey was provided in Spanish or English, based on the participant’s preference. A total of 98 surveys were performed, 74 in Spanish and 24 in English. Data was compiled and analyzed using Excel.
Results: English-speakers were more likely to have Internet and email at home (88%) than were Spanish-speakers (51%). English-speakers are more likely to use the Internet (96%) and email (96%) at least weekly than are Spanish-speakers (52% and 64%, respectively). When asked whether they would be interested in using an online portal to schedule appointments, request refills, or request an immunization record or medical history for their child, approximately 50% of all parents replied affirmatively for each use. Of note, English-speakers expressed a higher interest in using such a system to request an immunization record or medical history for their child (71% and 68%) versus Spanish-speakers (51% and 46%). A phone call was the preferred method of contact for most participants. Of note, 30% of English-speakers would prefer to be contacted by email, versus only 8% of Spanish-speakers.
Conclusion: The results suggest that an online patient portal would be utilized more by English-speakers than by Spanish-speakers. However, a total of 60% of the families we serve would be able to access the portal from home, including 50% of Spanish-speaking families. It will be important to assess parents’ comfort in using such a system in English or whether the system should also be available in Spanish. The further spread of the Internet into homes, and specialized training sessions for Spanish-speaking patients, may help increase parents’ use of such a system. However, these ideas are speculative. For now, our data indicates that an online patient portal system would be much more utilized by the smaller English-speaking portion of our patient population than by the larger proportion of Spanish-speaking parents.
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