BOSTON, August 17, 2023—OpenNotes is pleased to announce the launch of a new patient-facing resource, How to Use Open Notes. How To Use Open Notes aims to fulfill needs expressed by healthcare professionals for tools that facilitate discussions among patients, their families and clinicians about notes written in medical records (“open notes”).
How To Use Open Notes offers patients and their families information about open notes in a convenient and easy-to-navigate format. Created by health communications professionals, patient advocates, physicians and mental health specialists, it is written at a 5th-8th grade reading level, making it accessible to a wide range of individuals. The web-based resource is currently available in English and Spanish, with a goal of adding additional languages in the future.
“In the United States patients now have the right to access all of their electronic health information,” said Catherine M. DesRoches, DrPH, Executive Director of OpenNotes, and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “We created How to Use Open Notes to make it easier for patients and care partners to take advantage of this recent change in practice. They can now take a more active role in their healthcare, fostering stronger communication and collaboration with their clinicians.”
In order to help patients and care partners better understand the benefits of reading and using clinical notes, clinicians, health systems, and patient advocacy organizations are encouraged to adopt and adapt information from How To Use Open Notes. Except where otherwise noted, content featured on How To Use Open Notes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License and can be copied and redistributed freely in any medium or format, as well as remixed, transformed, and built upon for any purpose, whether not-for-profit or commercial.
How To Use Open Notes was made possible through grants from the New York Health Foundation (NYHealth), a private, statewide foundation dedicated to improving the health of all New Yorkers, especially people of color and others who have been historically marginalized. Since 2017, NYHealth has supported efforts to adopt open notes by 36 hospitals and non-hospital systems in New York State.
“Patients should have easy access to notes written by their providers—and patients want them,” said David Sandman, PhD, President and CEO of NYHealth. “True consumer empowerment occurs when patients have access to the information they need to talk to their health care providers, share information, and develop a trusted relationship.”
How To Use Open Notes builds upon research and patient-facing resources originally supported by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The evidence base on how patients and care partners benefit from reading clinical notes is extensive. Multiple studies show patients who read what is written about them by clinicians feel more involved in and knowledgeable about their care, feel better prepared for visits, and report being more likely to follow their clinicians’ advice. These results are consistent across ethnic groups, gender, socioeconomic status, and education, and the same benefits accrue to family caregivers. More than one hundred studies and commentaries have been published in the academic literature about open notes around the world.
OpenNotes is an international movement spreading, studying, and teaching about transparent communication among patients, families, and clinicians. When clinical notes are shared with patients, we call these ‘open notes.’ We are motivated by evidence indicating that when health professionals offer patients and families ready access to clinical notes, the quality and safety of care improves. OpenNotes is not-for-profit and is funded entirely by federal and philanthropic grants and gifts. Based at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a major Harvard Medical School teaching hospital, OpenNotes does not develop software and is not a technology company.
About Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School and consistently ranks as a national leader among independent hospitals in National Institutes of Health funding. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a part of Beth Israel Lahey Health, a health care system that brings together academic medical centers and teaching hospitals, community and specialty hospitals, more than 4,800 physicians and 36,000 employees in a shared mission to expand access to great care and advance the science and practice of medicine through groundbreaking research and education.