Patient-Centered Digital Health Records and Their Effects on Health Outcomes: Systematic Review

Martijn R. Brands, Samantha C. Gouw, Molly Beestrum, Robert M. Cronin, Karin Fijnvandraat, Sherif M. Badawy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: eHealth tools such as patient portals and personal health records, also known as patient-centered digital health records, can engage and empower individuals with chronic health conditions. Patients who are highly engaged in their care have improved disease knowledge, self-management skills, and clinical outcomes. Objective: We aimed to systematically review the effects of patient-centered digital health records on clinical and patient-reported outcomes, health care utilization, and satisfaction among patients with chronic conditions and to assess the feasibility and acceptability of their use. Methods: We searched MEDLINE, Cochrane, CINAHL, Embase, and PsycINFO databases between January 2000 and December 2021. PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines were followed. Eligible studies were those evaluating digital health records intended for nonhospitalized adult or pediatric patients with a chronic condition. Patients with a high disease burden were a subgroup of interest. Primary outcomes included clinical and patient-reported health outcomes and health care utilization. Secondary outcomes included satisfaction, feasibility, and acceptability. Joanna Briggs Institute critical appraisal tools were used for quality assessment. Two reviewers screened titles, abstracts, and full texts. Associations between health record use and outcomes were categorized as beneficial, neutral or clinically nonrelevant, or undesired. Results: Of the 7716 unique publications examined, 81 (1%) met the eligibility criteria, with a total of 1,639,556 participants across all studies. The most commonly studied diseases included diabetes mellitus (37/81, 46%), cardiopulmonary conditions (21/81, 26%), and hematology-oncology conditions (14/81, 17%). One-third (24/81, 30%) of the studies were randomized controlled trials. Of the 81 studies that met the eligibility criteria, 16 (20%) were of high methodological quality. Reported outcomes varied across studies. The benefits of patient-centered digital health records were most frequently reported in the category health care utilization on the “use of recommended care services” (10/13, 77%), on the patient-reported outcomes “disease knowledge” (7/10, 70%), “patient engagement” (13/28, 56%), “treatment adherence” (10/18, 56%), and “self-management and self-efficacy” (10/19, 53%), and on the clinical outcome “laboratory parameters,” including HbA1c and low-density lipoprotein (LDL; 16/33, 48%). Beneficial effects on “health-related quality of life” were seen in only 27% (4/15) of studies. Patient satisfaction (28/30, 93%), feasibility (15/19, 97%), and acceptability (23/26, 88%) were positively evaluated. More beneficial effects were reported for digital health records that predominantly focus on active features. Beneficial effects were less frequently observed among patients with a high disease burden and among high-quality studies. No unfavorable effects were observed. Conclusions: The use of patient-centered digital health records in nonhospitalized individuals with chronic health conditions is potentially associated with considerable beneficial effects on health care utilization, treatment adherence, and self-management or self-efficacy. However, for firm conclusions, more studies of high methodological quality are required. Trial Registration: PROSPERO (International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews) CRD42020213285;

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere43086
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • electronic health records
  • health care
  • health records
  • outcome assessment
  • personal
  • telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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