While the study is small, it points for the need for online patient portals to be designed with the needs of both elderly patients and their family caregivers in mind, said Dr. Crotty. “Hopefully what we learned will help inform future design of portals, giving seniors the ability to invite family members into their care,” Dr. Crotty said by email.
Fluidity is key in sharing elderly patients’ medical information, and it should be possible to tailor access based on shifting preferences of the individuals involved, the progression of patients’ illnesses and seniors’ level of autonomy, said Pravene Nath, MD, MSE, coauthor of an editorial accompanying the study.
“The bottom line is that there is no singular approach that works in a highly generalized way,” Dr. Nath, chief information officer at Stanford Health Care, said by email. “Preferences even for an individual elderly patient and associated family caregiver change over time based on numerous factors.”