Editor’s note: Dr. Bell is Director of Patient Safety and Discovery at OpenNotes, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Her research focuses on transparency in health care delivery systems and partnering with patients to improve health care. We spoke with her about patient engagement and her experience with the OpenNotes project.
Dr. Robert M. Wachter: Tell us a little bit about your background and how it led to your work.
Dr. Sigall K. Bell: Over a decade ago, Tom Delbanco, asked me to help write a facilitator guide for a film about patient and family experiences with medical error. I watched the film and was shocked by how patients and families harmed by health care described their experiences. I started thinking about how to improve communication when things go wrong, co-wrote the facilitator’s guide, started teaching with it, and then did some research in that space. I started working with Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFACs), clinicians, and health care systems through research looking at transparency, open and honest communication and organizational culture to help patients and families when things go wrong. The natural next step was thinking about how to enable effective partnerships with patients and families to ensure that things go right. That was the basis for my work in OpenNotes.
Listen to the entire interview or read the transcript here.