Due to a growing number of questions resulting from a U.S. mandate requiring clinicians to share progress notes with patients (including mental health notes), OpenNotes hosted two…
In the past decade, health institutions in over ten countries—including Australia, Canada, Sweden, and the USA—have begun to provide patients with access to their clinical records via secure online portals. So far, however, few health organisations have chosen to share clinical notes written by mental health professionals. Clinicians, especially those working in psychiatric settings, remain concerned that patients could become anxious, confused, or offended by what they read, and that sharing notes will create an extra work burden for mental health professionals.
This is the first study to implement and assess the impact of patients’ access to psychiatric records in an outpatient setting. Although many questions remain to be studied and a more diverse sample is needed for future research, the potential impact to enhance mental health treatment and the patient-clinician relationship is suggested for selected psychiatric patients. Policy around providing psychiatry patients access to their notes can be informed by reactions of both clinicians and patients.
Should we health professionals encourage patients with mental illness to read their medical record notes? As electronic medical records and secure online portals proliferate, patients are gaining ready access not only to laboratory findings but also to clinicians’ notes. Primary care patients report that reading their doctors’ notes brings many benefits including greater control over their health care, and their doctors experience surprisingly few changes in workflow. While patients worry about electronic records and potential loss of privacy, they vote resoundingly for making their records more available to them and often to their families.