The federal government’s new rule on “Interoperability and Information Blocking” requires doctors to give patients access to their notes and takes effect April 5. Some experts, however, said the goal for physicians should be to go beyond mere compliance with the rule and to use this as an opportunity to help patients take greater involvement in their health.
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According to OpenNotes, a Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center-based organization that describes itself as an “international movement promoting and studying transparent communication in health care,” more than 55 million patients already have access to their notes—including 10.4 million who gained access last year.
“We want transparency to become part of the culture of medicine—it’s good for patients,” said Catherine DesRoches, DrPH, executive director of OpenNotes. “The health care system increasingly wants patients to take ownership of their care, and we see that through insurance plan designs and rhetoric about patient-centered care. But patients can’t do that unless they have the information they need.”
Research has shown that when patients have access to the information in their record, they become more engaged in their care. That, in turn, enables patients to better understand what they need to do next regarding follow-up care and being safe, said DesRoches, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.