As the OpenNotes movement spreads, it offers important opportunities to learn from many health care professionals and health systems, as well as millions of patients. We’re collaborating closely with researchers across the country and around the world to understand the effects of fully transparent medical care on communication, engagement, safety, costs, and the overall quality of care.
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Patients overwhelmingly report understanding their visit notes and usually find them accurate, with few disparities according to sociodemographic or health characteristics. They have many suggestions for improving their quality, and if they understand a note poorly or find inaccuracies, they often have less confidence in their clinicians.
As health information transparency increases, patients may perceive important errors in their visit notes, and inviting them to report mistakes that they believe are very serious may be associated with improved record accuracy and patient engagement in safety.
Over the past decade, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has been committed to sharing clinical notes with its patients. Now, as the Covid-19 pandemic is accelerating the adoption of telemedicine, the hospital’s primary care practice is implementing an initiative called OurNotes. In addition to inviting patients to review notes before and after a visit, this effort also engages patients before the telemedicine visit by soliciting important prework information through an electronic form, and by enabling coproduction of the visit note.
Care partners value having access to their loved one’s information. The patient portal is a convenient way to access test results and clinical notes, communicate with health care practitioners, and link care partners to the clinical team, making it a powerful tool for realizing the goals of care.
Evidence suggests that the practice of sharing clinicians’ notes with patients via online patient portals may increase patient engagement and improve patient–clinician relationships while requiring little change in providers’ workflow. Authors examined clinical social workers’ experiences and attitudes related to open psychotherapy notes using focus groups and telephone interviews.
In this web-based survey study of 1628 clinicians, most viewed note sharing positively (74% agreed that it is a good idea and 74% viewed shared notes as useful for engaging patients in their care), and 37% of physicians surveyed reported spending more time in documentation. Physicians with more years in practice and fewer hours spent in patient care had more positive opinions overall.
Patients who read their clinical notes via online patient portals (‘open notes’) report that doing so engages them actively in their care, improves their sense of control over their health and enhances safety. In several surveys, patients who are older, less educated, non-white or whose first language is not English report even greater benefits than do their counterparts. However, for many reasons, persons from these demographic groups are less likely to use health portals than other patient populations.
Dermatopathologists’ Experience With and Perceptions of Patient Online Access to Pathologic Test Result Reports
In this survey study of 160 dermatopathologists, 57% reported that they have been contacted by patients about their pathologic test result reports.
Embracing the new age of transparency: mental health patients reading their psychotherapy notes online
Our pilot findings indicate that most patients who read open therapy notes find them valuable for understanding and engaging in their mental health care, with minimal adverse effects.
The international movement pushing to increase transparency by giving patients easy access to their health information parallels a broader shift in healthcare towards increased patient empowerment and participation.