Help us make open notes the standard of care for all patients.
You are at the center of your health care. Reading your notes can help you take more control of your health, and create a stronger, more trusting relationship with your care team. The notes are about you, and you have the legal right to review them. Read more in the Notes & You section.
Refer back to your notes any time you want to remember what was discussed with your health professional, and to remind yourself of follow up appointments, medication changes, and such. To prepare for an upcoming appointment, you can go over your past notes. And, you can choose to share your notes with family members or any other person involved in your care. Visit Our Stories page to see how patients use their notes.
By reviewing your note, you can play an important role in the safety of your care. Make sure that the information in your medical record is current and accurate. If you see something you don’t understand, or find a mistake, let your health care team know. To partner with patients more actively, some health systems are now offering a patient reporting tool that lets you send feedback easily when you have something new to discuss.
Some of us may be helping family members or friends to understand more about their condition, their medications, or assist with things like scheduling appointments. Sharing notes can help us manage the health and illnesses of the patients we support. You can find more information in the Caregiver Toolkit.
Don’t hesitate. It’s your health. Let your doctor or nurse know – in person, by email, by mail, or by phone – that you’re interested in accessing your notes. Remember, by law, you’re entitled to see them. The notes can be printed out or made available online. You can download a sample letter at the bottom of this page.
If your health care system uses an electronic health record and has a patient web portal, we recommend that you register for it. It’s an easy and secure way to engage with your health information, and there’s lots of evidence indicating that engaged patients get better health care. You can find links to patient portals on the map, as well.
Look at the map to see which health systems are already sharing notes. Know that we’re talking with institutions and doctors every day, encouraging them to share notes online. If you don’t find your institution, or if you do find your institution and your doctor is not yet sharing notes, it’s still okay to ask for them. It lets your medical team know you’re interested in being a partner in your care.
We’d love to hear from you about how you’re managing your health information – successes, obstacles, concerns…we’d like to hear it all. Use the Connect & Contact page to send us a message.
(Sample Letter to Your Doctor/Nurse)
Here’s a letter you can use to ask your doctor for open notes. You can also download it here.
Dear (name of your doctor, nurse, or other health care professional),
I’m writing to ask for online access to my full medical record, including the notes you write about our conversation after an appointment. I believe that having access to my notes will help me understand my health and health care better and help me partner with you in managing my health.
(Feel free to personalize your note. To get you started, here’s a list of some reasons patients want access to their notes.)
- I don’t always remember everything we discussed or the things I’m supposed to do between visits, and I think revisiting my notes will help.
- I think reading my notes will help me take better care of myself.
- I want to have a full account of all parts of my medical life.
- I want to make sure I’m on the same page with you for all aspects of my care.
- I would like to share my notes with someone who helps me manage my care.
There’s a lot more information on the subject, including research, at www.opennotes.org.
Thank you for helping us make open notes the standard of care for all patients.
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