Back to School OpenNotes Style

September 12, 2016 Reply

By Fabienne Bourgeois, MD, MPH, Boston Children’s Hospital 

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Fall is in the air and everyone is gearing up for back to school. For some, it’s an exciting time, but for others adjusting to all the newness is stressful, especially when it comes to communicating your child’s health needs to the front line staff at school

At Boston Children’s Hospital we’ve joined the OpenNotes movement – like dozens of other health systems across the United States, we’ve started offering patients and their families secure, online access to the notes we write after a clinic visit. We think it’s the right thing to do and that it can help families better manage their child’s health and illnesses. You can read more at opennotes.com, but here’s a short list of some of my favorite things about the power of OpenNotes.

1. Access the records wherever and whenever you want to remind yourself and your child what was discussed during an office visit. Reviewing the record and the notes can help make sure everyone is on the same page for next steps. It also gives you an opportunity to correct inaccuracies and to let the care team know if you don’t understand or are unable to follow the care plan, or have other concerns.

2. Share with a school nurse or anyone you chose. Schools often ask parents to fill out a health form at the beginning of each year. It can include a vaccination record or a description, for example, of how a child’s asthma is managed. Accessing your child’s medical record can not only help you recall important details, but it also allows you to share portions of the notes with the school nurse or anyone you choose to give a more detailed description of a condition or treatment plan.

3. Help your adolescent learn to navigate the health system. At Boston Children’s Hospital we allow both parents and patients (starting at age 13) who have MyChildren’s portal accounts access to notes. This can help parents help their children, especially those with complex health concerns, feel empowered and more in control of their health.

If your child receives care at Boston Children’s Hospital, you can use MyChildren’s Patient Portal to access your doctor’s notes. If you receive your care elsewhere, it’s okay to ask your doctor for your child’s notes and let him or her know you’d like online access.

Dr. Bourgeois is a pediatric hospitalist and the Medical Director of Patient-Facing Applications at Boston Children’s Hospital.

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