J Med Internet Res. 2020 Oct 23;22(10):e16835. doi: 10.2196/16835.
Despite the implementation of internet patient portals into the safety net after the introduction of the Affordable Care Act in the United States, little attention has been paid to the process of engaging vulnerable patients into these portals. The portal is a health technology tool that was developed with a mainstream, English-speaking audience in mind. Thus, there are valid concerns that such technologies will actually exacerbate health care disparities, conferring further advantages to the already advantaged. In this paper, we describe a framework for portal engagement (awareness, registration, and use) among safety net patients. We incorporate the experiences in the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services to illustrate important contextual factors for portal outreach in our safety net. Finally, we discuss considerations for moving forward with health technology in the safety net as the next version of patient portals are being developed.