The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has dedicated $1.5 million to find out whether giving 25,000 patients access to the notes written by their 100 primary care physicians is a good thing. I can offer some perspective on this subject – for free – based on around 125,000 patient encounters over 25 years by one primary care physician.
First, some background
As a first-year medical student, I took a required course called “clinical process.” It introduced us to the art and science of treating live patients, as opposed to the cadavers that were our frequent companions. I’m sure I learned a lot from the experience, but selective memory being what it is, I only remember three things. Two of them were wrong.
The one right thing was that the patient’s history was far, far more important than the physical exam. That astounded me at the time, but I was pretty naive. (I thought that whether one’s belly button was an “innie” or an “outie” depended on how it was tied.) Our professor, a renowned internist, long since dead, taught us correctly that “If you listen to the patient, he’ll tell you what’s wrong.”
Read Dr. Douglas Iliff’s full article here.