BOSTON — OpenNotes announced today that more than 40 million patients using secure online patient portals can now access the notes written by their clinicians at 200 health systems across the U.S. and Canada.
As the OpenNotes movement continues to support the availability of fully transparent medical records, new studies show positive effects on diverse aspects of care, including communication, engagement, the use of medications, safety, and overall quality.
“Our most recent research, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, shows that patients, particularly those from underserved populations, feel more engaged in their care and gain greater benefit from reading the notes their clinicians write,” said Catherine DesRoches, DrPH, Executive Director of OpenNotes, researcher in the Division of General Medicine at BIDMC and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “These are important and exciting findings because patients who read their notes report they are more likely to adhere to their treatment plans and medications, identify documentation errors, and follow through on tests and referrals.”
Helping OpenNotes reach the 200 health system mark, organizations recently offering patients access to their clinicians’ notes include: Yuma Regional Medical Center in Arizona, Asante in Oregon, Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin, Premier Medical Associates in Pennsylvania and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Ontario, Canada.
The overwhelming majority of patients with easy access to notes want such access to continue. “OpenNotes represents a significant paradigm shift for our system and for our providers,” said Lee David Milligan, MD, Senior VP and Chief Information Officer/Chief Medical Information Officer at Asante. “We now openly share clinical notes – including behavioral health notes – with patients in near real-time. Patients have expressed gratitude for being able to see their clinical assessment and plans of care. They have communicated that they appreciate being informed on issues central to their well-being.”
For decades, a growing number of health care advocates have asserted that shared medical notes can improve the processes and outcomes of care. Now, changes in technology have made sharing such information with patients faster and simpler. Making clinical notes available on secure patient portals is technologically easy with most Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems. Opening notes involves minimal risk of disruption to clinical practice while offering much to patients.
“Note sharing seems like a relatively simple intervention, but it requires a culture shift in medicine, and that’s not easy,” said OpenNotes co-founder Tom Delbanco, MD, MACP, John F. Keane & Family Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and BIDMC. “But patients love it and gain important clinical benefits, and clinicians learn quickly to build it into their practice. The evidence is growing that it’s a win-win all around.”
OpenNotes is the international movement that urges doctors, nurses, therapists, and others to invite patients to read the notes they write to describe a visit. These shared clinical notes, known increasingly as “open notes,” are spreading throughout the U.S. OpenNotes is based at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. To learn more, visit www.opennotes.org.
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 in the community with Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Needham, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth, Anna Jaques Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, Lawrence General Hospital, Signature Healthcare, Beth Israel Deaconess HealthCare, Community Care Alliance and Atrius Health. BIDMC is also clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and Hebrew Rehabilitation Center and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center and the Jackson Laboratory. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox. For more information, visit www.bidmc.org.
BIDMC is part of Beth Israel Lahey Health, a new health care system that brings together academic medical centers and teaching hospitals, community and specialty hospitals, more than 4,000 physicians and 35,000 employees in a shared mission to expand access to great care and advance the science and practice of medicine through groundbreaking research and education.