In 2010, we invited patients of more than 100 primary care doctors from three diverse medical institutions to read their doctors’ notes online. Our overall goal is to help patients become more actively involved in their care and to draw patients and their healthcare team closer together.
To do that, we need to foster meaningful, open and efficient communication. We have long felt that fully transparent, open medical records will help not only help patients and their families, but also their doctors, nurses, physician assistants, social workers, physical or occupational therapists, and anyone who provides or receives care.
Open notes is simple. We invite patients to review their providers’ notes written after a visit. Drawing on our early experience, we anticipate that weaving fully open medical records into standard practice will bring enormous benefits.
We know that such a change also carries risks; but in the same way that we assess a promising new medicine, we expect that for most people, whether patients or health care providers, the benefits will prove far greater than the risks.
We urge you to read about our experiences and to give open notes a try:
If you are a patient, ask your doctor or nurse for a copy of his or her notes.
If you are a provider, share your note with your patients.
Sharing notes does not depend on a computer. Although the Internet may facilitate record-sharing, doctors can also mail a copy of records to patients after a visit.
Finally, we need your help. We are in the early stages of what we hope will become a new standard of practice, and, as we move forward, we need to learn what works well, and what doesn’t. Do open notes make care safer? Does it improve the course of a chronic illness? Might it make care more efficient and save money?
We are working with colleagues around the world, and we would love to have you join us. We know two things: all of us have a lot to learn, and the voyage will not be boring!
Tom Delbanco, MD and Jan Walker, RN, MBA
On behalf of the OpenNotes team