Virtually all patients have the legal right to read a doctor’s notes after an appointment, yet few do so. Advocates argue that if patients reviewed such notes, they would be better informed and more involved in their health care. But some doctors worry that the practice would disrupt their workflow and potentially scare patients.
Now, a five-year review of the benefits and risks of sharing notes suggests that the experience enhances patient safety and places little burden on physicians.
“There’s a growing movement that patients want to be involved,” says Sigall Bell, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and lead author on the new study, published in the August edition of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. “It could profoundly change health care delivery.”
In 2010, two Harvard clinicians initiated OpenNotes, an effort to make doctors’ notes easily available to patients. OpenNotes is not a single software or tool, but rather a “philosophy and commitment to transparency,” Bell says. Many electronic health record portals are developing options for doctors to share notes with patients online, but the process can be as simple as copying or printing out a physician’s remarks after an appointment.
Read Megan Scudellari’s full article on the Boston Globe website!