Transparency, until recently, was rarely associated with health care. Not anymore. For better and sometimes worse, there is a revolutionary movement toward transparency in all facets of health care: transparency of costs, outcomes, quality, service, and reputation. Full transparency now has come to medical records in the form of OpenNotes. This is a patient-centered initiative that allows patients full access to their chart including all their providers’ notes.
Patients always have had the right to see their record. Ordinarily though, they would be required to go to the medical records office, fill out paperwork, and request copies of their chart. They would have to supply a reason and often pay a fee. OpenNotes changes that. Open patient charts are free and easy to access, usually digitally. OpenNotes programs are still rare, and before we go any further, it’s important to examine what we’ve learned about them.
In 2010, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania, and Harborview Medical Center in Seattle invited 105 primary care physicians to open their notes to nearly 14,000 patients. The results were overwhelmingly (and to me, surprisingly) positive: More than 85% of patients accessed their notes at least once. Nearly 100% of patients wanted the program to continue. Patients reported a better understanding of their medical issues, better medication adherence, increased adoption of healthy habits, and less anxiety about their health. I would have expected more confusion and anxiety among the patients.
Read Dr. Jeffrey Benabio’s full article here!