By Jerry Berger
Eileen Hughes has a long list of ailments that include Type 1 diabetes and a rare autoimmune disorder that has sent her to five different specialists. But she feels confident about her health, for one simple reason: She can read and study the notes her clinicians write after each visit.
Hughes is a program manager at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, one of the early adopters of OpenNotes — a pioneering patient engagement program, based on the concept that patients should see precisely what their doctors write during each visit.
OpenNotes was launched in 2010, as a pilot project among 105 primary care physicians and 13,564 patients at Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston, Geisinger Health Systems in Pennsylvania, and Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Now, it’s available to approximately 7 million patients at more than 25 healthcare systems, many of which have expanded the program to specialists and behavioral health providers.
And as more health systems embrace population health — and the notion that patients need to be active participants in their own care — the once-controversial program is gaining new adherents.
OpenNotes for a health system
The communication demands on a large healthcare system, serving 43 hospitals and 250 clinics in nine states, was part of the reason South Dakota-based Sanford Health joined OpenNotes upon the launch of an upgraded patient portal.
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