Should Patients Read Their Progress Notes?
Patients once had to file a subpoena to see their own medical records. Even today, the logistics for patients to acquire their charts are cumbersome enough that fewer than 1% of patients have done it. Calls for more seamless access resulted in the OpenNotes program, launched in 2010 at a handful of hospitals. It gives patients easy access to their medical records, including notes that clinicians write about their patients’ progress.
The founders of OpenNotes believed that improving accessibility—through either secure online portals or simple printouts—would encourage patients to be more active in their own care. As the program expands to its target goal of 50 million patients in the next three years, critics are voicing concerns. Letting patients see clinicians’ notes could cause confusion, they say, and ultimately do more harm than good. Here, two experts offer their takes.
Yes. How can patients become active partners in their care if they cannot see what clinicians see? asks Jan Walker, co-founder of OpenNotes and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.
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