Guiding Principles for Adolescent Web-Based Portal Access Policies: Interviews With Informatics Administrators

Bryan Sisk, Alison L. Antes, Christine Bereitschaft, Madi Enloe, Fabienne Bourgeois, James DuBois

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Web-based patient portals are tools that could support adolescents in managing their health and developing autonomy. However, informatics administrators must navigate competing interests when developing portal access policies for adolescents and their parents. Objective: We aimed to assess the perspectives of informatics administrators on guiding principles for the development of web-based health care portal access policies in adolescent health care. Methods: We interviewed informatics administrators from US hospitals with ≥50 dedicated pediatric beds. We performed a thematic analysis of guiding principles for developing and implementing adolescent portal access policies. Results: We interviewed 65 informatics leaders who represented 63 pediatric hospitals, 58 health care systems, 29 states, and 14,379 pediatric hospital beds. Participants described 9 guiding principles related to three overarching themes: (1) balancing confidentiality and other care needs, (2) balancing simplicity and granularity, and (3) collaborating and advocating. Participants described the central importance of prioritizing the health and safety of the adolescent while also complying with state and federal laws. However, there were differing beliefs about how to prioritize health and safety and what role parents should play in supporting the adolescent’s health care. Participants also identified areas where clinicians and institutions can advocate for adolescents, especially with electronic health record vendors and legislators. Conclusions: Informatics administrators provided guiding principles for adolescent portal access policies that aimed to balance the competing needs of adolescent confidentiality and the usefulness of the portal. Portal access policies must prioritize the adolescent’s health and safety while complying with state and federal laws. However, institutions must determine how to best enact these principles. Institutions and clinicians should strive for consensus on principles to strengthen advocacy efforts with institutional leadership, electronic health record vendors, and lawmakers.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJMIR Pediatrics and Parenting
StatePublished - 2024


  • EHR
  • EHRs
  • administration
  • administrator
  • adolescent
  • adolescents
  • electronic health records
  • ethics
  • guidelines
  • health record
  • health records
  • informatics
  • information system
  • information systems
  • patient portal
  • perspective
  • perspectives
  • policies
  • policy
  • portal
  • portals
  • youth


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