Candice Wolk, a patient in the OpenNotes study, presented testimony at the Clinical Documentation Hearing held in Washington, DC. Candice shared her personal story of how OpenNotes equipped her to be her own health-care advocate. Read Candice’s testimony below:
Dear Health IT Policy Committee members,
My name is Candice Wolk. I am humbled by the opportunity to present my story in front of you today and explain my meaningful experience with OpenNotes. Two years ago, when I was pregnant, I saw my doctor for a routine check-up. We talked mostly about my pregnancy and plans for child-birth. While I was there, she discovered a mole on my back that she said I should have my dermatologist look at it. Given my preoccupation with my pregnancy, I forgot about her advice to see the dermatologist. I was pregnant, my memory was not what it had been, and I was more concerned about my pregnancy than I was about myself. But a few weeks later, I had a nagging feeling. I remembered Dr. Fernandez telling me something, but I couldn’t remember what it was. That was the first time I went to OpenNotes to read the notes from my visit. And there it was, a detailed description of my visit, notes about our conversations, the reference to the mole on my back and her recommendation to see a dermatologist.
I did in fact see my dermatologist and had the mole cut out. On the one hand you may think of this as a routine example. It was a relatively minor item and simply remembering to see the dermatologist is easily addressed. But to me what was more important was that the experience enabled me to take an active role in my own healthcare. Even now, I routinely go to my OpenNotes file to make sure that what I truly want to convey to my clinicians is in fact what they interpret. It serves as a reminder to me to ask certain questions and play the role as my own health-care advocate. Something I could never do prior. I feel with OpenNotes, I am equipped to have an actual conversation with my doctor, to ask questions I have thought through prior to the visit, and to have a transparency between us that assures me we are on the same page.