The OpenNotes project, now with more than 5 million participants, has proven highly successful in engaging and satisfying patients. Based on early research presented Monday at the American Medical Informatics Association annual symposium in San Francisco, providing patients with full access to their medical records seems to work pretty well in inpatient environments, too. And, as with…
American Medical Informatics Association
Objective To explore the experience of early patient adopters who accessed their clinical notes online using the Blue Button feature of the My HealtheVet portal.
Methods A web-based survey of VA patient portal users from June 22 to September 15, 2013.
Results 33.5% of respondents knew that clinical notes could be viewed, and nearly one in four (23.5%) said that they had viewed their notes at least once. The majority of VA Notes users agreed that accessing their notes will help them to do a better job of taking medications as prescribed (80.1%) and be better prepared for clinic visits (88.6%). Nine out of 10 users agreed that use of visit notes will help them understand their conditions better (91.8%), and better remember the plan for their care (91.9%). In contrast, 87% disagreed that VA Notes will make them worry more, and 88.4% disagreed that access to VA Notes will be more confusing than helpful. Users who had either contacted their provider or healthcare team (11.9%) or planned to (13.5%) primarily wanted to learn more about a health issue, medication, or test results (53.7%).
Conclusions Initial assessment of the patient experience within the first 9 months of availability provides evidence that patients both value and benefit from online access to clinical notes. These findings are congruent with OpenNotes study findings on a broader scale. Additional outreach and education is needed to enhance patient awareness. Healthcare professionals should author notes keeping in mind the opportunity patient access presents for enhanced communication.