In a classic “Seinfeld” moment from 1996, the character Elaine is waiting in the doctor’s office and peeks inside her medical chart, only to find that someone had written that she was “difficult.” The doctor walks in, grabs the file and tells Elaine, “You shouldn’t be reading that.” She questions him about that notation and subsequently is unable to get proper treatment for a rash.
That long has been the attitude healthcare professionals have had toward patients reading clinical notes, but some well-known institutions are demonstrating that patients are happier and have better medical outcomes when they are able to see everything in their own medical records. Since 2010, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Geisinger Health System, based in rural Danville, Pa., and Harborview Medical Center in inner-city Seattle have been giving many patients online access to their entire ambulatory medical records—not just summaries—including clinician notes. The results of this initiative, dubbed “OpenNotes,” have been resoundingly positive.
In a yearlong study at the three organizations, 99 percent of participating patients said they wanted to continue seeing their full charts, and 85 percent said that records access would be a factor in selecting future care providers, according to results published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2012. About two-thirds were more likely to take medications as prescribed after a year of OpenNotes.
Read Neil Versel’s complete article on the US News & World Report website.